These dads. The difference they make for mothers and for children.
A great father brings identity. The lack of a good father can steal it.
A study published in 2013 says that the absence of fathers in mice causes brain damage in offspring, in the part of the brain that controls social and cognitive behavior. The implication is that the same could be true for humans.
But, we already know that.
Children do not need scientists to tell them how much pain is caused by an indifferent or angry parent, how they question everything about who they are and why they were born when a parent is cruel or habitually careless. Or how much fun a Dad’s love can bring, and confidence, and courage.
The wonderful inverse of this fact is that the presence of healthy fathers encourages healthy brain development in children.
The good news is that, no matter the condition of our earthly fathers, each one of us has a devoted father in the form of Abba God. He made us and loves us and likes us, even in our brokenness and mess and mistakes.
And in that unconditional love, we get to see our worth. Our value.
When my husband came in to my life, he saw me for who I was. He saw my wounded and damaged heart. He saw my hopelessness in relationships. He saw my cynicism and my anger. And he promised to love and cherish me in spite of all of it. And he has done so, every day since.
I knew he was the one when he came over to paint my house.
I was in the middle of trying to fix up a horrible dump that I was renting in a terrible neighborhood. I was young enough to think that painting the brown walls a pale yellow would make up for the strange man that walked through my yard at night, whistling ballads from another time under my window.
That one act of kindness would have been enough to show me who he was, but then he showed up with a box of tools. And he went through the whole house fixing everything.
He worked two jobs during the week, and, on the weekends, he drove two hours to come to my city. When he wasn’t working on my house, he came to the mall and waited for me to finish my shift so he could take me to dinner. He walked the mall while I worked and bought me presents to pass the time.
He wasn’t flashy. He wasn’t a smooth talker.
He was good.
He was quiet. He was tall and tan. He was dark-haired, but there was such a golden glow about him that my mother always called him blond.
He was generous, and he was a caretaker. “He would make such a great dad.” I remember being surprised at the thought.
A great dad. That was one of the most important things to me that he could be.
I wasn’t even dating him at the time, and he still wanted to be around me, no agenda.
I felt safe with him. I didn’t feel that queasy twinge of regret, vaguely wondering why I was with him. I didn’t feel a mania either, but something different, something deep and sure.
He was unexpected. And yet, he felt like someone I had known all my life. He always says he wished we met and played in the sand box as kids. He wanted to share his whole life with me, even the moments that had already passed.
I was dating someone else, and once, just once, he told me, “I hate to see you with him. You deserve someone who treats you better.”
And then he waited. And he worked on my house.
And I came to my senses, and I left the other guy. And I went with him. And he treated me better. And we got married. And we had a bunch of kids. And he’s still treating me better, all the time.
And watching him be a great dad to our kids is one of the best gifts of this life.
So thankful for my good man and for all the good men.
You make a difference in this world just by doing your best, giving your all.
You can be so hard on yourself. Please know that just being here means you are helping us live our best lives. Even in situations where you can’t be there all the time, thanks for making yourself known with cards and calls and texts and gifts. Everything you do to reach out, we notice, and it has an impact. Nothing is wasted with a child, with relationships.
Early mornings and late nights at jobs that are sometimes boring and challenging and infuriating and uncertain. Trading your time to pay for football helmets and baby food and stuffed animals and college tuition. For the things a family needs, for houses and medicine and braces and cars. Thanks for fixing everything around here, for opening jar lids and for cleaning all the yucky messes.
Thanks for being generous with yourself. For giving your all and not giving up when women are moody and the kids are testing.
There is a song about the way the love of a good father influences his children. I love this line,
You’re a good, good father.
It’s who You are,
It’s who I am.
It’s who I am.
The love of a good father defines his children as good.
Thanks for your love and for all that it carries. Thanks for showing us that we are good.
Thank you for everything.