Wednesday, June 13, 2007
A Song For Fathers
In preparation for Father's Day, I began scrolling through my mind for some songs we might use for a church PowerPoint presentation highlighting good fathers and godly manhood. I was somewhat surprised when the songs at the forefront of my mind that related to fatherhood all pointed out the downside of "Dear ol' Dad." The Temptations "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" jumped into my mind first about a father who never met the responsibilities of his household but instead, spent his life hustling and occupying different beds for his own gratification. I then thought of Gladys Knight and the Pips song, "Daddy Could Swear, I Declare!" about a sharp-tongued father who was never at a loss for words or venom to accompany his words as he let his tongue fly with reckless abandon. I finally thought of Harry Chapin's working man's lament, "The Cat's In the Cradle" which tells the sad and oft repeated tale of a dad so engaged in his work that he fails to engage his family, thus unintentionally modeling a lifestyle of family alienation that his son will emulate to perfection.
It bothers me that I can't think of many good songs about dads from the top of my head, and that these snapshots of problematic fatherly examples were readily available in the forefront of my mind. As a son who has reached adulthood with my own children - two grown, one in adolescence and one toddler, I have many thoughts about fatherhood from a parental and child's perspective. I have found in my own life that it is easy to criticize your dad. As young children, we place our dad's on such a high pedestal - a near super-hero status - only to learn of their humanity as we grow more mature and sometimes, we continue to hold them to superhuman standards, not giving them the understanding and compassion that they truly need, especially as they get older. I think that as a dad who is oh so human, it has helped me give my dad a very precious gift that I hope my children will also give to me - Some Slack.
A year or so ago, I heard an interview with Bruce Springsteen in which the legendary rocker reflected on his evaluation of his father. "The Boss" very wisely commented that many of his teen-aged and young adult evaluations of his father were terribly inadequate, because he didn't have an appropriate context from which to see the problems his father dealt with and the complications that made his father's struggle and day to day survival a truly remarkable feat, though it went totally unappreciated by Bruce. Bruce's wise words gave me a greater appreciation of him as a person and challenged me to re-evaluate how I judged my own father in some of his failures and struggles.
So, as I continue to search my brain for songs that exalt the virtues of fatherhood, I will also make it a point to remember the good things my father has done for me over the years. I will celebrate his victories more than I criticize his failures and remember to give him praise for modeling fatherhood to the best of his ability. My dad wasn't perfect and still isn't, but he sure is great and I am thankful for the role he has played in helping to understand the importance and impact of being a good father. I encourage you to praise your father if you can, and if you've had a difficult relationship with a father who has been less than stellar, I encourage you to pray for him and ask the Lord to touch your father's heart and transform your father's life as only God can. Never forget that God is in the business of transforming lives, even when it seems hopeless. Here's to fatherhood. May the Lord give us more Father's with His heart and some new songs to sing to their example and to His glory. Until next time,