Bob Tamasy: Fathers And Failures

Thursday, June 6, 2013 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

With Father’s Day approaching, I fear things aren’t all that great in the world of fathering.

You might not be old enough to remember, but in the 1950s and ‘60s, fathers carried more respect. Maybe the dads’ segment of the population just had better PR. I recall many of the TV fathers – guys like Robert Young of “Father Knows Best,” Fred MacMurray of “My Three Sons,” Andy Griffith and Bill Cosby on their own shows.

These were solid, stand-up guys. When they spoke, people listened – even their kids. They could solve any problem, tiny or huge, within their 30-minute time slots. As the late Jean Stapleton, who portrayed Edith Bunker on “All in the Family,” used to sing with TV husband (and dad) Archie, “Those were the days.”

The Ozzie Nelsons and Ward Cleavers weren’t perfect, but seemed to love their wives, care for their kids, and approached life with wisdom and common sense.

Compare them to the TV “dads” of today, Homer Simpson of “The Simpsons” probably being the standard bearer. Fathers depicted in popular culture are confused at best, blithering idiots at worst. If they’re present at all. Many shows have eliminated “TV dad.” Moms carry on without them just fine.

Even on my favorite show, “NCIS,” most of the key characters – Gibbs, DiNozzo, Ziva and McGee – have had troubled relationships with dear old dad. And come to think of it, when was the last time you watched a college football game and an athlete on the sidelines turned to the camera and said, “Hi, Dad!”?

As much as I’d like to attribute the current plight of fathers on the media (can’t we blame them for everything?), I don’t think we can. Wounds suffered by members of the once-revered office of fatherhood are largely self-inflicted.

A 2010 government study revealed more than 70 percent of African-American children were born to unwed mothers, and statistics for other races and ethnicities weren’t much better. Apparently, a large proportion of young men believe their “fatherhood” responsibilities begin and end with impregnating young women.

Similarly, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, less than half of custodial mothers got all of the child support they were legally entitled to receive. Many biological fathers seem unbothered about the responsibilities of providing for their offspring’s material needs.

Often, even dads that are at home become too consumed with work – or hobbies – to spend ample, quality time with their children. I’ve been guilty of that myself at times.

As I wrote in an earlier post, I greatly admire mothers and the tremendous job they do in juggling work, household duties, caring for their kids, and somehow trying to still manage some personal time. I don’t know how they do it. But we’re too quick to dismiss the consequences of absent or inattentive fathers.

Men, for the most part, don’t cry much. Maybe we’ve been socialized that way. But I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen men tear up while talking about their dads. As much as “experts” might argue to the contrary, a man’s relationship with his father – or lack of one – is a powerful force in his life. And for many of us, it remains so until we die.

That’s why the Bible’s perspective on fathers speaks so powerfully. It refers to God as our heavenly Father, but perhaps for many having had bad relationships with their earthly fathers, that might not seem helpful. But the apostle Paul takes a positive, affirming stance: “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God…” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12).

Elsewhere the apostle points out one of the best ways a father can communicate love for his children: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…. Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 5:25-6:4).

By demonstrating genuine, sacrificial love and commitment to their mother, a father shows his children a love willing to die to self for the benefit of others. And by being patient and compassionate, rather than responding in haste or anger, fathers can set the example of what a godly life should look like.

Women tend to be more naturally relational than men; men tend to focus more on tasks and outcomes. So the business of fathering, for most of us, is hard, arduous work. When you’ve met a work deadline, you simply cross that off your list and move to the next project. But being a father is a job that’s never done – even when the kids move out of the house. When you’re a dad, you can never say, “Well, I’ve finished that,” and check it off the list.

But the effort, if we’re willing to undertake it, is well worth it. If we want to know what kind of legacy we’ll leave after departing from this life, all we need to ask is, “How am I doing as a dad?”

---

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.


Union Gospel Mission Has Community Christmas Dinner Dec. 23

The Union Gospel Mission of Chattanooga will host its Annual Community Christmas Dinner on Friday, Dec. 23, from 12-2 p.m. (or until the food runs out.) The event will be held at Miller Park, downtown Chattanooga, across from the main Post Office.  The Union Gospel Mission will be providing a free Christmas meal consisting of turkey, ham, potatoes, green beans, corn, ... (click for more)

"A Baby Brings Peace" Is Sunday's Topic At Middle Valley

Middle Valley Church of God announces that Pastor Mitch McClure will speak on the topic, 'A Baby Brings Peace '  in the  10:30 a.m.  service this  Sunday .  This is part of a sermon series titled 'Advent, A Time Of Hope.'  This new sermon series will focus on the advent of the Christ child at Christmas with the hope ... (click for more)

Cleveland High School On Lockdown After Veiled Threats Made On Social Media Thursday Morning; Lockdown Later Lifted

A Cleveland High School student was suspended from school on Wednesday .     On Thursday  morning, a social media post was found that made veiled threats against school personnel.  As a precautionary measure, extra police presence was ordered at the school, and a lock down was underway restricting hallway access and entrance/exit to the building.  ... (click for more)

Walker County Will No Longer Have Full-Time County Attorney Under Whitfield Tenure; Will Add Full-Time Communications Director

Incoming Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield said under his administration there will no longer be a full-time county attorney. "We will outsource this service on a fee basis," he said. Mr. Whitfield said he has begun interviewing attorneys who might be able to help out the county from time to time. Don Oliver has long been the county attorney for Walker County ... (click for more)

Vehicle Emissions Testing Causes More Pollution Than It Prevents - And Response

While a noble cause to make sure vehicles are operating efficiently with the minimum amount of pollutants, a simple analysis makes it somewhat evident the VET program in Chattanooga causes more pollution that it prevents.  Though I don't know how many vehicles are tested on an annual basis, if you assume an average round trip of 10 miles to the nearest testing station (five ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Cost Of No Discipline

At the start of the current school year, state education officials gathered at some “state testing task force” when disciplinary records from across Tennessee happened to be revealed. You probably are unaware of this, as it seems to have been kept on the “down low,” but statewide a full 20 percent of the black males in our public schools were suspended at least once during the 2014-2015 ... (click for more)