Celebrate today with your father

Biology alone does not create a father. Fatherhood is a matter of learning by experience. There is no owner’s manual, no instruction book, just gut feelings and a focus on making sure children are given the tools to grow and be safe in a wild world.

New fathers are nervous beings, worried literally about how to hold their babies. And as the child grows, fathers go through phases, reading to the child, trying to teach the basics of sports, supporting the growing child as he or she enters school.

Dad at this point is hero, teacher, security blanket and book of knowledge. He’s the smartest, most handsome, most capable man in the child’s life.

And then the teen years set in. Dad may no longer be the most welcome individual. He may become second fiddle, his advice not readily welcomed. Perhaps dad no longer is the smartest or most capable. Lucky dads get to hang onto the hero status for awhile, but it’s not long before that, too, may be gone.

As children grow into young men and women, a funny thing happens. Father becomes a needed person again, for advice, for a shoulder to lean on and for sharing stories of just how he got through all the child is going through now as an adult.

Father becomes friend.

That’s the normal progression in healthy families, and it’s a vital part of the life of stable, productive members of society.

It’s thus fitting that we honor father today, on Father’s Day.

The role of a good father is indescribably important. Without a clue that he’s doing it, a good father shapes a good child. The kid may wear his hair differently, get a tattoo or an earring, listen to different music or laugh at things the father just doesn’t get. But he’s helped form an individual who, at some level, generally shares the same basic values.

In our area, we’re lucky to have generations of examples of good fathers, who toiled hard in factories and mills and stuck by their families and children without complaint. Our area should be a case study for anyone who wants to understand the positive role fatherhood can play.

Today is not, at its most basic level, about dinners or fancy gifts, though dad surely appreciates those.

If you’re lucky enough to have your father alive today, visit him, call him, hug him, say thanks. No gift means more to a father than to know his children appreciate him.