Monday, November 10, 2014

Even Fathers Have Bad Hair Days

"By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness." (The Family Proclamation para. 7)
I think this is my favorite post in this blog so far. It is very meaningful to me because of the wonderful responses I received from so many friends. Each of us has had our own unique experiences with fathers; some we cherish, some that stretched us beyond what we knew we were capable because of very difficult father/child relationships. But what I hope the reader will take away is that regardless of our experience with our fathers, we can become what our Heavenly Father knows we can be..... a cherished child of God who can rise above the trials that come our way.

So let's start this post on a lighthearted note, with a short, cute video. Enjoy......

What little girls wouldn't love being able to do this with/for their dad? In just 62 seconds, this video demonstrated a father realizing what his priority was right in that moment. He comes home from work; tired, feeling like he should spend time bowling with his buddies, then sees the look on his daughters faces and knows what he should do. Time..... that's all most children want from their parents, and in particular, fathers. 

From the text Successful Marriages and Families, I came across this passage that I love:

"To father a child is to accept a divine calling, a moral stewardship, and a lasting commitment across generations...... First, fathers are directed to take upon themselves the responsibility of spiritual leadership in family life as part of a loving Eternal Father's plan for family functioning. Second, a father's responsibility to preside occupies the first and foremost duty among the varied obligations that rest upon men in family life. Third, the manner in which a father is to exercise spiritual guidance among family members is explicitly articulated: 'in love and righteousness'" (pg. 140-141)

I asked some friends what attribute about their father made an impact on them. These are their responses:

* Hard working.

* My Papa was nonjudgmental, he made friends with anyone and everyone.

* He is brilliant, hard-working, loves the Lord passionately and is always learning.

* My dad is not quick to anger at all. I don't know that I have ever heard him yell.  

 * My dad will drop everything to help someone, and never complains about it.

* My father was persistent, he never gave up when asked to accomplish something.

* His commitment to the gospel and family.

* Loves us enough to apologize and ask forgiveness when he has been in the wrong.

* My father is the BEST example of giving service regardless of time of day or weather. He also is the kindest man and can make friends with ANYONE!!!!   

* Patient and loving, overall calm demeanor.

* A man who knew how to get it done, and if he didn't, he found a way.

* Hard working man who always provided for our family.

* Tender-hearted and humble.

* (And this from a friend whose father died when she was a baby) I'm told and I believe he was a great man with a lot of patience.
Time for a commercial interruption..... enjoy!

That was the cutest thing ever! I look at the little girls above, and this little boy in the video..... they just want to spend time with dad! When I think about all the responsibilities fathers have as husband, father, provider, to preside, to protect..... they have a lot on their plate!
"....a father's leadership in family life requires both quantity and quality time and that fathers give their time and presence in their social, educational, and spiritual activities and responsibilities." (pg.144)
Now let's jump to a more serious discussion about the less than ideal situations with fathers. In a world where you hear more and more of fathers not being a part of their children's lives for one reason or another, it makes me sad not only for what the children are missing, but the father as well. The ties that bind our families together include all participants in the family: the father, mother, children, extended family members. Without any one of them, the bind isn't as strong. We need each one, and the father holds a special part that cannot entirely be replaced by anyone else. I had some friends, however, who told me some less than ideal attributes about their father, and to be authentic in this post, I wanted to add them:
* Self loathing, greedy, liar, con artist, user, adulterer, cheating, backstabbing, rapist, child abuser, he is useless.
* Selfish

I asked these friends if they would share what they learned from their experience with their father. One person told me this, and said I could share with you:
As much as I despise my father, he is still my father, and he showed me what kind of father not to be. This man showed me more than a child should ever experience and taught me in the criminal ways, and did all manner of cruel things to us, even abandonment. Shelley, I said those things because I witnessed them and experienced them. I know what it's like to live life on the streets in the poorest of poor conditions, living around drugs, violence, and abuse. I will NEVER allow my kids to experience this. And that is what I learned, but in a very hard way. We may not have much financially but my children and wife have me, my experience to survive off of, and we do it by placing God first in our lives. It's the only way we make it. 

Another friend of mine responded with this beautiful message, of which she gave me permission to post here on the blog. 
  I wanted to share briefly how my dad and his choices affected me. Due to horrible choices his father made he was exposed to horrible things as a child, things no one should ever have to see. As a result, he has struggled his whole life with destructive addictions. He was a great provider, but emotionally absent in our family the whole time I was growing up. Looking back now, it impacted my life in profound ways. I call it looking for love in all the wrong places. Because I had no relationship with my dad, looking back I was willing to do some pretty stupid things to have a boyfriend. Thankfully I never followed through with some of those things, but I do remember I was willing.
Ultimately, I married the first guy that proposed, and the reason? I thought it was my only chance. I distinctly remember feeling like if I didn't marry him no one would ever marry me. What does this have to do with my dad? I've watched girls who have a loving healthy relationship with their dad. It seems they are full of confidence, and they know who they are and their precious worth. It took me YEARS of heartache and precarious situations before I found that. I will say, however, that a lack of relationship with my father during formative years caused me to search out a relationship with my Father in Heaven, though, unfortunately, not until my adult years. But when I did that, and began to comprehend who I really was, and my worth in His sight, everything changed for me.
I love my dad, and we have been able to build a loving relationship over the years as he has been honest with us and working to overcome his addiction. Because of his struggles I feel like I am a more compassionate person towards those who struggle. He is a good man, with a gentle heart, who is doing the best he can based on his life's experiences. His actions have profoundly affected who I am today. And while those actions were less than ideal, they have not destroyed me but rather caused growth, strength, and great love towards him within me.

I felt these were important to share, and I am so grateful these individuals allowed me to share them with you. They are shining testimonies to us all that even though they grew up in circumstances that are not ideal, they pulled through and became stronger because of it.

Fathers can be the best example to their children as they model righteous behavior and lead in a way that exhibits their love for Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. 

I would challenge you to consider the ways your father has made an impact on your life, and tell him! If you are a father, think of ways you can stretch yourself to give a little more time in your family, knowing that you provide a very important example of a provider, protector and one who presides.  If your father has made choices that have had a negative affect on your life or in your relationship with him, I would suggest doing what my friends above did, and seek for the precious relationship you DO have with your Father in Heaven. Only He and the Savior can help heal wounds and bring peace.
The following Mormon Message is my husband's favorite. He watches it all the time. It describes exactly how he feels as a husband and father. I am grateful for my father, the example he was and still his to his children, leading our home in righteousness. And I am grateful for my husband who works so hard in his role as father to our 5 children.



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