I was on a plane a couple of weeks ago and our plan for plane rides has been for Julie and Olivia to sit in one part of the plane and Haynes and I in another. This seems to eliminate some of the distractions for his three-year old mind and any temptation that he has to whine because of mommy’s proximity to a minimum. It’s worked pretty well on several flights now and this particular flight was no exception. He was pretty good, stretching his boundaries only a few times but overall very pleasant to me and those around us. We played a little, looked out the window, ate, etc. to pass the time. Towards the end of the flight a lady sitting across the aisle told me that I was a “great dad.” Wow, really?
This comment caught me off guard as I don’t typically think of myself like that. In fact, I tend to focus on areas that I drop the ball more than those where I may be doing well. I was glad she told me that and encouraged that a stranger on a three-hour flight was impressed enough to compliment me like that. It encouraged me . . . that is, it gave me courage. I felt like a great(er) dad simply because she said it. Even if I’m not, it helps me to be.
I wrote the other day about one aspect of what a father looks like. The presence of a father is powerful and affirming to sons (and daughters). Strong fathers create strong fathers but those aspiring 2nd (or 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc.) fathers must first be willing to be sons in order to be fully equipped to father the subsequent generations. Being a great father means that somewhere along the way we accepted our sonship. This will be hard to accept if there was a difficult father relationship and I’m not going to say that there are any absolutes but I will maintain that acceptance of sonship can include finding peace and receiving healing for the hard father-son relationship. Ultimately, the best thing that can happen is a transfer of authority from father to Father which is the design for the family model to begin with.
This matters more than I can fully explain in the day-to-day dealings of the criminal justice system which I deal with. The numbers of single family parents without a dad and how those situations align with addiction, crime and poverty are staggering. The cause and effect reach far beyond the inner city to effect the suburbs and affluent areas with addiction, depression, suicide and dysfunction settling into situations where sons can’t be sons.
When sons can be watched over and accepted, knowing that there is a place to land no matter what, then they are prepared to walk in their purpose and destiny as fathers. When that happens, the Father can be the constant Force in the generational transfer of affirmation and equipping.