Note: I first posted this in June 2011 on my personal blog. I think it’s an important reminded to dads about how they affect their children. Happy Father’s Day.
I’ve thought a lot about being a dad this June more than past. As Moriah graduates and prepares to move on, I’ve had opportunity to reflect on my own fathering and also on the relationship I have with my father. Fortunately, for me, I’ve enjoyed both.
As I’ve reflected, I’ve come across a trend. I believe that moms are the most important person for teaching us to live and to love, but this trend has reinforced in me the crucial role that fathers play in the lives of their children. It comes from the world of music.
While listening to the live version of U2’s Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own, I learned that Bono wrote this song to his father.
I also Bono’s song took me back a few year to Dan Fogelberg and his song, Leader of the Band. Both artist connect their music to what their fathers taught them. Bono acknowledges his father singing “you’re the reason why the opera is in me.” Fogelberg calls himself the “living legacy to the leader of the band.”
Peter Gabriel wrote a song to his dad called Father-Son. Gabriel sings, “I first found my courage knowing daddy could save.” While not about his music specifically, Gabriel acknowledge his father for his strength. That strength certainly led to a long successful musical career.
There is something else in common with these father songs and some other songs about fathers, (i.e., Paul Simon’s Father and Daughter and John Mayer’s Daughters). It is that they all tend to be full of tension. Bono notes “we fight, all the time.” Dan Fogelberg’s dad has a “thundering velvet hand.” John Mayer sees a poor father resulting in the next generation having to “clean up the mess he made.” Gabriel’s tension of learning to trust his father comes through fear of water and learning to swim.
These songs all lead me to a last song that I’ve been thinking about. Rich Mullins wrote a great song called Growing Young. It is about a father, but not necessarily Mullins’ father. It’s a story about the prodigal son. The story that Jesus tells is a great story of the love of a father filled with great tension.
I saw a story on ABC News this week that talked about a study that showed that a father’s rough housing is important to development of children. With rough housing fathers demonstrate to their children appropriate measure of winning and losing. From rough play with dad, children learn to test their limits; they learn to discover their identity.
I learned something through this musical reflection. I learned that while it is from our mothers that we learn how to love, it is from our fathers that people gain their identity. More importantly, it is from God the Father that we gain the fullness of our identity as he allows us the right measures of winning and losing in this life.
We need fathers. We need strong, Christian fathers who are involved with their children, and let their children win; and let their children lose. We need fathers that discipline and teach our children the things like swimming that require trust. We need fathers who treat their daughters with grace and give their children a love for culture.
I’ve had a father that gave me this example. I hope that I’m that example to my children, especially now as Moriah will be moving to the next step of her life. As Paul Simon says, “as much as one and one is two, there can never be a father who loves his daughter as much as you.”