As a young boy I never knew what it was like to have a father present. Like any other child, I longed for a man to be in my life. However, at the age of 10 my world was shattered when the man that I knew to be my father denied me because he was angry.
Growing up in a single-parent female household was challenging at times. My mother did her best to educate me about the challenges that I would face as a man, but she could not educate me about the role of a father.
As I ventured through childhood I found it difficult to respect and connect with men. I had a father, but did not know anything about him. He would come around on the weekends and drop off a few dollars. By giving me a few bucks he felt that he earned the right to be called my father.
Whenever someone would ask me if I had a father, I would tell them that I was conceived by a man who donated sperm to my mother. This was hard for many to hear, especially my “father”. My brothers and uncles served as role models, but they could not give me the attention that I needed as a young boy because they had sons of their own.
For many years I searched high and low to find the answer to one fundamental question: What Makes a Man a Father?
Here are 6 observations I have learned about What Makes a Man a Father:
1. A man becomes a Father when he takes responsibility for raising his children.
Any man can create a child, but a Father will not forsake his child. A man becomes a Father when he not only clams his child, but also takes care of his child. Any man can donate sperm, but fathers nurture and raise their seed.
2. A man becomes a Father when he connects with his children.
Children, especially young boys need male role models with whom they can share their feelings with and learn from. Feeling connected is a basic human need. It is difficult to show affection when one does not feel connected. Fathers enjoy the time they spend with their children. They eat together, play together, and pray together.
3. A man becomes a Father when he learns to feed his children before he eats.
This fundamental lesson is critical to help young boys and girls understand the importance of engaging in selfless behavior. Young boys will also come to understand that they will be expected to provide as they journey into manhood. Young girls will come to understand the importance of giving their hearts to men who are family oriented.
4. A man becomes a Father when he leads by word and example.
A father understands that he must command wisely in order to be obeyed cheerfully. He realizes that he sets the tempo for his children. He strives to be optimistic, empathic, resilient and inspirational. A man will demand respect, but a Father will demonstrate respect. A man will tell you how to live, but a Father will show you. A man will tell you what to do, but a Father will guide you.
5. A man becomes a Father when he demonstrates affection toward his children.
A father looks for the good in his children and openly acknowledges it when it is found. He celebrates their successes and communicates in a positive and nurturing manner. Hugs and kisses are given in addition to words of encouragement.
6. A man becomes a Father when he respects the mother of his children.
A father is committed to helping the mother of his children succeed and there is an attitude of “one for all, and all for one.” In short there is allegiance to the children and family life is a priority.
When asked, “What makes a Man a Father?” I often remind people that a father is a man who raises a child. He acknowledges responsibility for his seed. With this in mind, I would like to say “Happy Father’s Day” to all the men who step up to the plate on a daily basis and give all that you have to your children.
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Happy Father’s Day!