“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”– Billy Graham
In recent years, the notion of what constitutes a “family” has indeed shifted drastically, and sometimes, the role of father or mother may seem unnecessary and irrelevant – all in the name of love and freedom. Yet, what would the world be without fathers who lovingly and courageously raise the next generation?
The truth is that the role of the father is often glossed over or underappreciated. Furthermore, the media tends to glorify and focus more on the role of the mother in the realm of parenting. Too often, we see the father’s role as merely one of breadwinner or disciplinarian, but a real dad is more – much more.
We’ve come up with a list of 5 things that many fathers do that may go unnoticed.
#1 He works hard for his family
When a man becomes a father, ambition and passion often take a back-seat to the need to provide for his family and eke out a decent living. For the man who has found a job that pays the bills and brings him joy, we say “Good for him!” But many fathers may not have the opportunity to land such a dream job.
They may not complain about their unrealized potential, but like every home-maker has given up certain dreams, they too have made a sacrifice that is largely unseen. And so, they soldier on, day after day, for the sake of their families. Thankfully, drudgery with a purpose may bring its own special brand of joy and satisfaction with it.
#2 He sets limits for the children
Granted, both parents can and should set healthy boundaries and limits for their children growing up, and these limits shift as kids grow from toddlerhood to adolescence. Yet there is something especially powerful about the limits set by Dad. When fathers set limits, clearly and confidently, you can be sure their children take note that this is something important.
During the teenage years, fathers face the challenges of setting limits for their recalcitrant children while not distancing them. Teenage children can be volatile, emotional and/or very hard to read. To strike that balance between showing love and grace, and speaking truth and caution, is a tricky one indeed. We are thankful for the many dads that choose to step up to the plate gamely, even though they themselves may still be figuring out how the game is played.
#3 He looks for solutions
Most men are problem solvers by nature, and the family knows it. Whether it’s something gone wrong with the oven, or a light-bulb blown, everyone’s gut reaction is often “ask Daddy”. But this means that fathers are constantly having to come to the rescue of their family members 24/7. Sometimes, they may even think two steps ahead of their family’s moves, so as to pre-empt possible scenarios and solutions. While they may be glad to do so for the ones they love, such behind-the-scenes work often goes unthanked and unappreciated.
#4 He leads by example and makes his family feel secure
There’s no place like a father’s embrace. For the wife who has had a long day at work or a tough time disciplining the kids. For the son who didn’t get picked for the soccer team. For the daughter whose favourite doll was broken.
There’s a saying that goes “Dad: A son’s first hero; a daughter’s first love.” Whether he knows or likes it or not, a father is that first picture of manhood and leadership that his young son receives, and the first male model of love and care that his daughter experiences.
#5 He encourages his children to take risks
Visit any park or playground in Singapore, and you’re sure to hear concerned mothers and helpers shouting to their children to “You will fall!” or “Too dangerous! Come down!” Interestingly, many fathers have a different take on rough play.
“You can do it.” is what you are more likely to hear. “Don’t sit there and cry. Come on, get up and try again. It’s not that hard.” And before you know it, Junior has scaled the rope wall. Our children need this balance, from their mums and dads – the caution to be mindful of danger and thoughtful about consequences, but also the courage to take risks and the resilience to try again.
To all the fathers in our lives, for all the many things you do unappreciated every day, big and small, Thank you!
By Dorothea Chow
This was first published in The New Age Parents e-magazine