Here’s my column in today’s Greenville News.  Happy Father’s Day, dads!  Keep up the good work.

Fathers shaped and molded in the fires of love

And here’s the direct link, followed by the text


Happy Father’s Day!  I want to tell you all how proud I am of you, and what a great thing you are doing by being fathers.  Whether you’re holding a brand new model in your arms, and are filled with both terror and adoration, or an great-grandfather with the wisdom of the ages, you are to be celebrated.

I love being a father.  Thanks to the not insignificant contributions of my wife, I am father to four absolutely amazing young people, who are my constant delight.  Fatherhood changed me in ways I can barely articulate, taking me from a self-centered individual to a man in love with his wife and kids, and willing to put them first in everything.

While I find it hard to describe the emotions fatherhood caused in me, and while there is insufficient space to say how the process made me better, I can take a minute to revisit the roles of the father.  For new dads, this is a kind of ‘to do’ list.  For current and previous dads, well, think of it as a refresher, or a trip to the past.

Fatherhood asks us to be, and do, many things.  Almost all of them are delightful.  Some of them are difficult.  And every single one is ultimately integral to the place we fathers have in the lives of our children and wives.

We are:  providers of money which goes to food, shelter, clothing, education, vacation, gifts, gasoline, vehicles and all the rest.  More to the point, we are pipelines of money, typically funneling it directly from our employers to our wives and children with a brief diversion for our lunch money.

We are:  security and safety officers, whose job is to investigate noises in the night, odd animals treed by the dogs (personal experience), to answer the door when strangers knock, to lock the doors at night, check the weather report, keep the tires inflated, make the kids wear helmets on their bicycles, kill wasps, spiders, scorpions and centipedes (machetes work nicely) that invade our homes, relocate snakes from the pool, run interference with anyone and everyone who troubles our family and look scary when boys date our daughters.

We are:  educators, not only of facts but of culture and morals.  We teach the kids to be kind, but also be wary.  We teach the boys to respect the girls and the girls to understand the boys.  We wake up and go to work so that our kids understand that this is what men do when they love their families.  We model health and fitness, as well as Godliness and wisdom, patriotism and thrift.  We explain changing tires and breakups, electrical sockets and lawnmowers, interviews and applications, joy and grief.

We must be:  fools for our children, in a beautiful kind of way.  We dance with our daughters and wrestle with our sons; we teach them our hobbies and passions, whether car restoration or music, art or archery, fishing or. football.  We learn about what they love, and engage in it with them.  It matters little if we love video games; we share them with our kids who do.  I understand American girl dolls and X-Box games, I know the basic positions of ballet and how a bagpipe works.  All because of my children.  And they, in kind return, understand poetry and pocket knives, scripture and how to suture.

And oh so important:  we love their mothers.  We bless the marriages of our children by attending to our own, by showing them that it is not only important but joyous.  By modeling for them the passion and devotion of man and wife.  And if mom and dad aren’t together, well they can still love and respect one another, can’t they?

By now, young fathers will be wondering, ‘what about me?’  Fair enough.  You matter. But I warn you, love takes over.  Eventually, the things that matter most to each loving father diminish, and we find  find ourselves immersed in our children and their mothers.  And eventually, hopefully, we  realize that we were transformed into newer, better men, shaped and molded in the fire of love, until no sacrifice was, or is too great.

Interesting.  A love so great it became immersed in its children, made itself like them with a breathtaking love, and gave all to provide for them.

Sounds like a story we’ve heard somewhere else, doesn’t it?

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