Responding to Fatherhood

Armodoxy for Today: Responding to Fatherhood

Father’s Day gives us an opportunity to thank and honor our fathers. Fathers, just as mothers, are no longer confined to a gender. We all know mothers who, because of life circumstances, have had to be both mother and father to their children, just as we know fathers who, because of life circumstances, have had to be both father and mother to their children. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are about the responsibility that goes with parenting.

The family unit has gone through many changes over the last century. A quick glance at television programming will remind us of just how much the image of the family has changed from Father Knows Best in the 50s, to Married with Children in the 90’s, to programs we’d be better off not remembering today. Like it or not, these are the images that came across our TV screens and have their impact on patterns of thought. They come into our living rooms and our homes, sometimes subtly, but most of the times as a reminder of where our society is at this point in time.

I’m not calling for a step back in time. But I am calling upon the teachings of the Church as articulated by our Lord Jesus Christ. He showed us a life of simplicity and personal responsibility. And pay attention to the order: a simpler life means much greater ability to take responsibility.

We fall into the materialism trap. We defend our actions by saying that we are working hard so that our children can enjoy the things we never had. We provide for our children but often don’t realize that the cost of providing is not measured in dollars. We lose sight of the goal of life. Responsibility to children means securing them with love, compassion and belonging.

Once, during a class with Junior High students, I asked them who their favorite hero was, expecting to hear the names Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Black Panther or Spiderman. Would you believe that the fantasy heroes did not even surface on their lists. Their heroes? Their parents!

On Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, I ask fathers and mothers to own up to the responsibilities entrusted to you as parents. Your children need you. Your children will mimic and become the person you teach them to be.  Working so that they may have more money and things are not the gifts your children need. Your children need your time. Your children need your love. Your children need your support.

We conclude today with a passage where Jesus talks about his parents and family. From the Gospel of Matthew (12): While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”  But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”  And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

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