June 13, 2014

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

This is a celebration of fathers, the really genuine kind

Cynthia DewesDespite the apparent trends in our culture lately, real fathers are not mere sperm donors. Nor are they sitcom idiots or domineering tyrants a la horror movies. They do not flit from flower to flower, as it were, spreading their pollen indiscriminately and leaving the consequences to others to deal with. Rather, they look forward to raising kids with their beloved spouse.

That’s because real fathers, the genuine kind, are lovers. They love their girlfriends enough to commit to them, to marry them and plan their future around them. If they are really in love enough to marry, they’re not deterred by debt or an income too small to buy a house, a second car, a boat, or whatever. Instead, they look forward to facing current problems and working toward future success with the loving support of their spouse.

They also love the idea of having children, followed by the realization that parental love includes responsibilities. Some of these are to provide material and emotional support to their kids, as well as discipline. They know they must set a good example because from them their sons will learn to be good men, and their daughters will learn how to relate to men with love and respect. As a result, their children will know how to function correctly as spouses and parents.

Such fathers also know how to love their parents and other relatives, their friends and neighbors and colleagues. They can “be there” for others without becoming either controlling or a doormat. In positions of authority and professional dealings, their fatherly gifts will serve them well. Real dads will prove to be real assets as teachers, managers, doctors, foremen, mentors, or in whatever job they hold.

Naturally, most men will not intellectualize their relationships with women in this way. But they will act out of the right motives using care to choose their partner well. The initial demands of passion are always present, of course, but they shouldn’t dominate or get in the way of commitment. Real fathers know that instinctively.

As I’ve said many times before, I think that if one has a real father here on Earth, it’s natural for him or her to think of God the heavenly father with trusting love. Just as we can expect our good dad to protect us, teach us and love us unconditionally, so we can believe that God will do the same. That doesn’t mean we will achieve wealth or fame or political advantage or some other relatively romantic goal. It does mean we’ll face life and all its joys and problems with confidence and hope.

Real fathers sometimes go even beyond their own families to share their loving support with others. We think of someone like George Washington, “the father of our country,” or fathers of useful inventions like Thomas Edison or Eli Whitney or Alexander Graham Bell. We can point to the other kind of fathers, too, like Stalin the dictator, or the Nazi killer, Josef Goebbels. But even they probably began with worthy intentions which turned bad because of human sin.

And that’s the thing about real fathers. They persevere in pursuit of good things. Things like happy relationships, children to be proud of, work well done. They love, therefore they’re the real article. Those are the fathers we celebrate on Father’s Day, whether they are here with us in person or in spirit. God bless them.

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

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