Father’s Day is a time to celebrate those fathers who sacrifice throughout the year for their families. It is also a time to revisit the challenges we face with absentee fathers especially as it relates to how their daughters are affected.
Absentee fathers not only include those who aren’t physically present but those who aren’t emotionally invested as well. Art is even imitating life. Only 4% of Prime Time TV shows provide an accurate portrayal of true fatherhood. No longer do we see TV dads such as Cliff Huxtable, Charles Ingalls, Howard Cunningham, or James Evans. They have been slowly replaced by characters like Al Bundy, Peter Griffin, and Homer Simpson where they are often made out to be bumbling mishaps or men who suffer from the Peter pan syndrome refusing to grow up. Many shows fail to even feature a father as part of the storyline.
I would like to paraphrase a passage from a book by Dr. Kevin Lemon entitled “A Difference a Daddy Makes”. He states “one of these days our little girl will grow up and go into the world. She will essentially take everything we have or haven’t provided her into society. Her marital satisfaction, ability to parent, sense of wellbeing, and acceptance will be something that she has achieved in spite of or in part because of you”.
I commend single women who are playing dual roles raising children on their own; however there are just certain things that only a father can provide especially as it relates to raising daughters. Men close your eyes and imagine for a second your daughter all grown up and coming home after a busy day from work. She is cleaning up a dirty house, changing the baby’s diaper, and cooking dinner all while her husband is flicking the remote watching ESPN. The thought of this probably makes you a little uneasy; however we must first ask ourselves are we modeling this at home? Am I honoring my marriage, being a servant in my home, and showing love to my family? For daughters this is crucial because it enables them to distinguish between a healthy relationship and one of dysfunction.
The other element to emotional involvement is affirmation. Daughters love to be affirmed by their fathers. One of my favorite father and daughter moments in TV History centered on Rudy and Cliff Huxtable. I reflect on one episode when Cliff gave Rudy a big sloppy kiss and called it a Zerbert. I have found myself using this word with my daughter when I place a kiss on her cheek and she finds it quite amusing. These little moments of affirmation are like building blocks and occur one moment and memory at a time.
Men we can break the cycle of absentee fatherhood, but first we must recognize there is a problem in our culture. The lack of a father can be a precursor to women who are clueless about selecting a quality mate, girls who become pregnant as teens, and girls who struggle with self-esteem issues. Being a protector and provider doesn’t just involve going to the gym to bulk up or making sure that we are depositing a check every first of the month. In essence being a protector means not allowing your family to become emotionally and spiritually vulnerable (Ephesians 5 22-33). We all have fallen short at some point in time in the fatherhood department. The good news is that God is one of guidance, grace, and patience. This Father’s Day let’s reminisce on “Old School” days when TV Fathers served as role models for their little girls. We play a play a key role in raising them to become well-adjusted women but it is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world.