Everyday Spirituality

You can say I’m in denial, but I don’t think the cancer killed my Dad. He is still alive to me. And, I think of Dad more often than on Father’s Day.

Don’t get me wrong. My experience is not always pleasant. But it is thought provoking.

Dad could be intimidating when I was growing up in the 1960-1970s. He fulfilled the model of breadwinner-who-never-helped-with-housework.

A 2017 Pew Research poll reported, “Fatherhood in America is changing in important and sometimes surprising ways. Today, fathers who live with their children are taking a more active role in caring for them and helping out around the house.”

Dad and I added to those changes. Directly and indirectly.

After I married in the 1980s, I made sure my husband helped in the house, because Dad indirectly taught me that not to help was unsustainable.

My husband grew up lacking the knowledge so my strategy took time and a mountain of patience. I only made myself angry when I expected my husband to remember not to wash the red shirt with whites.

I had to remind myself he was inexperienced and remind him not to wash the red shirt with whites. We may be adults, but some things still need practice. And practice is needed to change for the better.

But one thing remained unchanged from my childhood. Dad’s tradition of weekly church attendance. Therefore, my husband and I took our children to church. It gave me a reference, to rectify fatherhood with, when I was a teen.

Fatherhood isn’t only about providing the sperm or bringing home the paycheck or cleaning the potty. It’s about growing compassion, strength, and courage. It’s about teamwork and respect.

My dad overbalanced his lack of helping in the house with respect for me. Despite the fact I was a girl, he taught me how to operate and maintain machinery on the family farm. He taught me to nurture the crops of awareness and perseverance.

Speaking of children as “little ones” Christ Jesus told his disciples, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)

In the Greek, despise is defined as, to think down upon or against anyone.

I never felt despised by Dad because he despised anything that would set me back. He despised self-centeredness, idleness, and dishonesty. He despised the ideology of blaming others for failure.

If something needed to be done for success, do it.

I believe Dad’s attitude contributed to the social changes being made today even if he didn’t contribute to the housework. Dad showed us children we were valuable.

The Pew report mentioned above said, “Dads are just as likely as moms to say that parenting is extremely important to their identity.”

Today, fatherhood is being cultivated at many levels.

Fatherhood programs are initiated and developed at federal, state and local levels to support children and families.

Weeklong or weekend Fatherhood Retreats are popular, many of them faith based.

Books are found and studied to improve fatherhood.

And, what are some of the results when we cherish the spirit of fatherhood?

The Child and Family Research Center at the LBJ School in Texas reports that children who grow up with involved fathers are 60% less likely to be suspended or expelled from school, 75% less likely to have teen birth, and two-times as likely to go to college and find stable employment after high school.”


Bio: Cheryl Petersen is the Everyday Spirituality Columnist. Her books are, 21st Century Science and Health, from science & religion to God, I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter.

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