Father’s Day this year has been cause to reflect on ‘what makes a great Dad?’
The answer is simply I don’t know. I don’t know that there is one thing alone. I am sure there are a lot of little things that combine to make someone a great Dad; but all too often we know the characteristics of a Dad who is not great. One characteristic that comes to mind is a Dad who is not safe.
A Dad who hurts you, maligns you, or ignores you. A Dad who doesn’t seem interested in you. Maybe you know the sort of Dad I am talking about. Perhaps, sadly, you had that sort of a Dad. A Dad who was not safe or trustworthy.
In his book “No Perfect People Allowed”, author John Burke describes trust as the cornerstone of faith, before making this insightful observation, ‘Trust comes from a deep conviction that I matter, that I can trust the other person because he has a genuine concern for my well being. The ability to trust often get’s established or destroyed early in childhood. Trust often eludes a large number of Americans who had to be weaned from trusting Mom and Dad at a young age. The impact of this on their ability to trust others, trust religious leaders, and even to trust God severely hampers their life and faith.’
Burke, in this midst of a broader discussion on trust reminds us of the critical role a parent has to play in fostering or stymying a child’s capacity to trust. This doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, but as often as you can, remind a child, your child if you are a parent, that they matter. Most likely they have others in the school yard who are pointing out every flaw, ignoring them, and telling them they are insignificant.
This is not the way God’s views them or any of us. A verse I love whispering in my kids ears is Psalm 139: 14, where I remind them that God made them and they are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’ This is more than rhetoric, I believe this, and I want them to know it. Like any child, they need to know it.
Whether your Dad was a great Dad or not, maybe today can be the catalyst for you to do something great for a child. Be someone who is safe. Be someone who has a genuine concern for them, and their sense of worth. Let them know that God loves them and they are fearfully and wonderfully made.
It may not be all there is to being a great Dad, Mum, Uncle, Aunt, Grandparent or Guardian, but I would suggest it’s not a bad place to start.