Happy Father's Day! Now Be a Better Dad

It's easy to forget about a responsibility that doesn't come with constant reminders.

About a month ago, your church was probably filled with flowers and moms who didn't normally attend. The service likely had a couple of extended applause times built-in, and the sermon was probably on Proverbs 31. In short, it was a celebration. Mothers were given a "good job" and a Cracker Barrel gift card and sent on their way.

Father's Day, on the other hand, is a different story. There are no flowers. In fact, the service doesn't look a whole lot different than any other Sunday--except for the sermon encouraging men to be better dads. It's a far cry from the pomp and circumstance of early May, and many men are fed up with it.

They're fed up with the inconsistency between to the two holidays.

They're fed up with how every sitcom paints the father as a bumbling buffoon.

They're sick of being disrespected, emasculated, and under-appreciated.

And they're dead wrong for feeling this way.

That's not to say that fathers shouldn't be appreciated or that they're any less important as parents than mothers. Rather, men need to realize that their role as a parent comes with a significantly greater degree of choice than women.

My daughter is almost a year-and-a-half now. She's never taken a bottle, she hasn't weened yet, and she still doesn't sleep through the night. Every once in a while, I'll get woken up in the middle of the night to rock an uncooperative, teething toddler; but in general, she is my wife's responsibility 24/7. Even our first Mother's Day got rained out by a fussy infant who only wanted mommy.

My wife often tells me that she wishes she could take a vacation day from being a mom. Just one day to actually get a real night's sleep and recharge from the unrelenting stress and unforgiving schedule that being a mother demands.

Which is funny because I can take a vacation day any time I want. In fact, I was away on business for an entire week last year. And even though I was working, having that time off from being a dad was refreshing. My patience cup was refilled and I felt like I could be a better dad because of it.

I have that luxury.

But my wife does not. Not only is that child still dependent on her, she bears physical reminders of her motherhood. While my body hasn't changed at all, she can't escape the responsibility etched into her skin.

I think that's why absent fathers are more common than absent mothers. It's harder to abandon a person who used to be a part of you. Women share an innate connection with their children that men will never know or understand, and that alone makes it all the more important for men to be more vigilant in their parenting.

Ironically, Scripture doesn't contain a single injunction to women on how to parent their children well. Men, on the other hand, are twice reminded by Paul to not exasperate them. Perhaps this was an oversight on his part to leave out the mothers, but like all of his letters, I think he was speaking to the needs of his churches. And if the men of the first century needed to be reminded of their fatherly duties, I haven't seen anything to indicate that men have changed much since then.

Of course, there are always exceptions. Plenty of women have walked away from their kids physically or emotionally and chosen to be bad moms. Likewise, there are lots of days when my wife will say that I'm a great dad. But I've had more bad days than I care to admit. I can always do better. And it's too easy to forget to try.

So no, it doesn't offend me that Father's Day sermons tend to be less celebratory than those on Mother's Day. Moms deserve all the accolades we can give them, because God bless them, they work so much harder than most dads. To the contrary, I need all the reminders I can get that I need to be a better dad. Because unlike my wife, I'm not reminded every time I look in the mirror.

photo credit: Fathers Day Scrabble via photopin (license)

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