There’s not a lot said about absent Mothers. It seems fatherhood carries unique potential for a grand opt out. With fathers, no one assumes bonding with your children is a given.
Add to that the changing role and expectations of fatherhood over the years and it becomes tricky to define what makes a man a great father. In certain centuries, being a non-violent provider of food and shelter was enough to earn the “good job” label. In other generations, the man who worked long hours, came to dinner and played catch a day or two per week was modeling ideal fatherhood.
Now we expect Dad’s to be physically present and emotionally available, but fulfilling expectations is not greatness. So what is it then, that makes a Dad great? What is the modern job description of a exceptional Father?
Many say that he:
But perhaps the biggest gift of a father is his life itself. Great fathers, like all great parents, make great sacrifices. They reorient their lives around their families. A great Dad refocuses his energy from what he wants to what his children and family needs.
To see the truth in this, one needs only to look at Fathers who fail at the job. The common story arc of the failed Dad is a man who chooses his own desires to the detriment of his commitment to family.
In this way, willing selfless sacrifice, often defines our greatest fathers.
Take the case of the man whose daughter started Father’s Day. According this article at LiveScience, after William Jackson Smart’s wife died in childbirth at the turn of the 20th century, the custom of the day was for the widowed father of six to give the newborn to a relative and find a new wife to be the mother of his children. Instead, he chose to raise his six children, newborn included, by himself.
Modern day inspiration involves even more sacrifice. Take this story of a dedicated Father in China with a disabled son. 40-year-old Yu Xukang carried his son, 5 miles each way, to the only school that could accommodate the boy’s special physical needs.
According to the UK Daily Mail, “The father was separated from the boy's mother nine years ago when Xiao was three years old, and decided to raise him alone. He said he was determined that the boy would not suffer from being raised by a single parent and he wanted to give him the best opportunity.”
Now the child is at the top of his class. Why? Because his father believed in him and loved him enough to sacrifice. His Dad says, “I am proud of the fact that he is already top of his class and I know he will achieve great things. My dream is that he will go to college.”
We salute all the great Fathers out there doing their best for their families. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. We see your sacrifices and we thank you.