The daylight is waning on Father’s day, and as I have interacted with many dads today it was brought to my attention that only a ‘man’ can father a child. What does this mean? Several things came into my mind when I heard the phrase. The first is a clear distinction between a ‘man’ and a ‘guy’ in terms of behavior, personal responsibility and perspective on life. The second is that no matter if a woman is the only only parent available to a child, she can never truly fill the role of ‘father’ the way a man can.
Guy verses Man
You all know ‘guys’, their behavior is still reminiscent of high school or college, self-ish whims are more important than ‘responsibility’ and the way they treat women leaves something to be desired, including the fact that they will still refer to women as ‘girls’ even when that ‘girl’ is 40. Men are different. It seems they are harder and harder to find these days, but when you see one, you know you do. Men are strong, sensitive, hard working gentlemen who have clearly gone through some sort of ‘rite of passage’ or ‘dark night of the soul’ which has caused them to face their demons and come out the other side with less arrogance, more compassion and the ability to really SEE women. Men are not afraid of commitment, spirituality or being emotional. Men see responsibility as an opportunity rather than something to fear and real men see their children as the most amazing gift life has ever granted them.
Guys, on the other hand, shirk responsibility thinking it is not theirs to do, but someone else’s. Guys don’t believe in hard work, only working when it fits in with their mood and personal inclination. Guys fear parenthood and try to pretend they are still single even when family life so clearly needs them to be present and participate in the unfolding miracle. Guys are afraid to commit and think it threatens their so called freedom. Men know that commitment opens them to a level of freedom never before known.
Fathers are Men
Standing in a spiritual center today it was asked that all the fathers stand so they could be recognized. The minister, while wanting to be inclusive, and he himself having grown up with no father, asked any of the women who also filled in as the ‘father’ in their child’s (or any child’s) experience to go ahead and stand as well. Though one could see where he was coming from, and even had to hand it to him for stretching the cultural ‘norm’ on the celebration and honoring of fathers today, it seemed that all the men were not so sure. Later on, comments were made that made me consider what had occurred in those brief few moments of standing or not standing men and women. Some of the men actually felt slighted, even less appreciated and seen for having women stand with them on ‘their day.’
Now, some would say, these men ought to get over it and let bygones be bygones. What’s done is done, there’s no use in worrying about it, right? As the question was pursued it became obvious to me that there was delicate ground being trod here. Being a single parent myself and having experienced the lack of a father figure at times with my little one, I had to admit that in no moment of my single parenting did I ever feel that I could fill the shoes of ‘dad.’ In fact, I have acknowledged on various occasions the critical role that a man plays in the life of a child, whether a biological or adopted father or another ‘father figure’ in the various ways that can show up. Masculine influence has an important place indeed, I dare say – especially in the life of a young boy. A woman can never give a child that, no matter how much masculinity she embodies. To this I will agree. Only a man can father a child.
Giving back the spotlight
On this day where we are honoring fathers and the essence of fathers, I want to take a moment and acknowledge the men who have stepped so bravely and honorably into the position of dad and role model. I want to thank, on behalf of all mothers, women and children, the MEN who have said yes to the responsibility that comes with their courageous act. These men, I know, would say that it was their pleasure and gift to have such a blessing bestowed upon them, as to be in these children’s lives and be loved as they are. This is another reason why these men are men and deserve our praise.
To the guys I offer encouragement, as it is never too late to shift into your manhood – it can happen right in this moment. All of society thanks you for considering the move from guy to man. Other men will respect you and welcome you into the tribe that is bulging with pride without ego. Men hold the door open to you, silently waiting your decision to arrive and join them.
To the women who have been there for children when no man could, we do not belittle you or disgrace you, but simply say thank you for what you have been and are. We also encourage the recognition of the masculine energy as being an important influence on the blossoming consciousness of any young person. Often women cannot find suitable men to be around their children, knowing the impressionable state they are in at young ages. May we pull together on behalf of these women and may the men step forward and embrace all the children in their communities as they would their own. It truly takes a community to raise children.
On this Father’s day, as the sun sets, I would like to sing praises to the men and recognize them yet again. As the sentiment ‘only a man can father a child’ rings through the evening air, let us begin to see these men more clearly as they step from the shadows into the light of taking care of our children, strong in the resolve to be the caring yet tough influence our kids need. Happy Father’s Day Dads!
Written by: Stasia Bliss