June 9, 2017

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Finding God through the love of our fathers

Cynthia DewesMother’s Day has past, and now we approach Father’s Day in a week or so. It seems that Mother’s Day gets a lot of attention, but Father’s Day barely grazes our consciousness. It’s chopped liver next to the Big M.

Why is this? Surely fathers are equally important as mothers, since it takes both to create a child. But probably since mothers carry the children in their bodies and can nourish them personally, they’re the dominant parent in that regard. And for many years, our culture reinforced that idea.

When women mostly stayed at home and raised the kids, the men’s job was to go out and provide for the family. They protected their wife and children from want, and were responsible for their general well-being. But now, most women work away from home.

Some of this is by necessity because living on one income has become too hard for many young families. In addition, we now have many single mothers in the work force. Divorce and the so-called sexual revolution have created a whole new class of female workers. Not only that, they fill many jobs formerly reserved for men, such as the military, firefighting, etc.

Some men may feel somewhat emasculated by this turn of events. While women continue their important role of bearing and nourishing children, it seems that men’s previous role as provider and protector is now threatened by having to share it with women.

But wait. The male authoritarian model is slowly adapting into a different sharing of family responsibility. Women whose jobs provide more income and fringe benefits than their husbands’ work are often the breadwinner now. And men share the household duties formerly reserved for their wives. They’re known to cook, watch the kids and (gasp!) clean house, and do them all well.

Of course, women are still the bearers and first nurturers of children. And men’s size and strength are still necessary in maintaining a household. It takes both kinds of abilities and skills, plus both kinds of sensibilities, to create a healthy family.

The interplay of male and female points of view, the differences in how they think, is also interesting and instructive for children to observe. As I’m fond of saying, men learn to be men and how to relate well to women from their dads. And girls learn to be women and how to relate well to men from their moms. And all children learn how to create their own healthy family when they’re grown when they’re part of one as kids.

The thing is, relationships between men and women should not be power struggles. And the work they each do should not be classified in a scale of status or power, but only competence. Men may not be able to have babies, but they can certainly deliver them as well as women, and women may not be able to lift the garage door, but they can take out an appendix as well as a man.

It seems to me that when we have a good father, we have no trouble believing in God the Father. We know that our dad will forgive us, love us and sustain us as much as possible throughout his life and ours. We’ll remember that on Father’s Day when we honor our dads, husbands, sons and the other men who exemplify God for us. Have a great Father’s Day!

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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