The Importance of Fathers

These are pictures of my husband, his brother and his dad, circa 1969. These always make me so sad to see, but with Fathers’s Day approaching, I wanted to show how important fathers are. In these photos, my husband’s father came to visit. His parents, teenagers when the boys were born, were divorced and visits from his dad were rare. His mother was remarried and his dad may have felt that it was better not to interfere, or that because his own life was in upheaval, the boys were better off without him. He hasn’t come to take them to the zoo, or an amusement park or even out to eat. He doesn’t have the money for these things. They play in the back of his old van with balloons and eat candy.
This man is young, broke, and not well mentally (he took his own life years later), but the joy he brings to these boys with just his presence alone is evident. He is far from perfect, he made some bad choices, he has nothing to offer monetarily, but these kids don’t care. They only know that dad has come to play with them, and that he loves and misses them. They miss him terribly when he is not around, and as months go by without a call or a birthday card, they wonder what they did to keep him away. They think that they are bad boys and maybe unlovable. They do not think to themselves that their dad is unstable, that he is an alcoholic or that maybe he is staying away because he thinks that the new dad is better for them than he is.
Fathers, you need to know that you are enough. Your children need you. Whatever your situation; divorced, separated, teenage dad, addict, alcoholic doesn’t matter. Your children love you unconditionally and need to know that you love them, and think about them.  Don’t ever, ever think that they are better off without you. Don’t give up and think that their stepfather is enough. He maybe be wonderful, but he can’t take your place. And if your child has two men that love and protect them? That is even better. Don’t let fear of rejection or shame, keep you from trying. Give every ounce of energy that you can to your children, and if you can’t be there, text, call, Facetime, do anything that you can to let them know that you are thinking of them and that you love them. It is never too late. They may be angry, they may say they don’t want to see you as they get older, but don’t give up. On this Father’s Day, don’t be upset if you don’t get a call, you be the one to reach out. They need to know that they are important enough to keep fighting for, and fathers, you need to know that you are important too and no one can take your place.