The word Father is used most often as a noun, as in Ralph is my father. It is also used in religious references. However, the word is most interesting to me when used as a verb, as in I will father my children. It also can be used in a participle, as in “To father a child is a joy, but it requires commitment.
On this Friday before the celebrated day of Father’s Day, I think of my experience as a father of five children, and, while I was active in the noun usage of the word, I missed much in the verb usage. As I examine my role all those years ago as a father, I see my presence, but not my participation. Yes, I performed all the standard tasks of fatherhood—I worked and provided the necessary material things for them. But I was more like a shadow in their lives. I could be seen, but I had little substance.
I will not delve into the reasons for how I fathered my children, but I ask each of them, who are now parents, to learn from my wrongs. Here are a few thoughts: Share time with your children because it and love are what you can readily give them; Keep external pressures away from your fathering; Being an example is being the best guide; Find a safe escape away from your children for anger and frustration; Understand that your children may not remember your words, but will remember how they made them feel; When they talk, listen as if everything depends on it; To guide is better than to push; Make their home a safe place.
Father as a verb, not a stale noun.