Jun 16, 2013 0
Thinking about Father’s Day, there is someone in the news who, perversely, might be deemed “Father of The Year.” Not that he is a great role model, or has been honored by his children. Someone named Desmond Hatchett has fathered 30 children by 11 different women in the past few years.
Proud, not ashamed, of himself (“the wimmins just be lovin’ me”), Hatchet recently petitioned the courts to reduce or void his child support requirements. Although a previous court divided his financial responsibilities among the children he was found to have fathered (some of them slated to receive, thereby, $1.47 a month), he claims that chronic unemployment, partly due to his criminal record, prevents him from meeting the obligation.
In some American cities, unwed pregnancies account for 70 per cent of births, at least among certain ethnic groups. To discuss ethnicity in relation to such social maladies is virtually verboten in today’s politically correct culture. We will never “right the ship” in America unless honest debates return: it is just as wrong, for instance, to excuse a person due to race, as it is to condemn a person because of race. And that applies from reckless baby-makers to presidents. Nobody is immune from personal responsibilities, and nobody is immune from the responsibility to address social and spiritual crises.
Similarly, it is a mistake to exempt some citizens – that is to say, every citizen – from frank discussions. I take the news item about Daddy Hatchett as a take-off point for this essay. But illegitimacy, irresponsible parenting, crummy and absent fathers infest every group, every class, every race, and, yes, the church population too… almost in the same numbers as the overall population.
The courts can only go so far (except when they overturn deep traditions and voters’ referenda about, say homosexual marriage and legalized drugs), but it is a sad commentary how they address irresponsible fathers. Enforced employment? Prison? Sterilization? No, child support, alone, is the routine application of justice. Justice… to the children? And child support frequently goes unpaid, and often is scarcely sufficient, even on paper, to begin with.
But officially, when we are at a cultural crisis, the System’s official definition of Fatherhood is boiled down to “child support.” Spare change, and you’re done, dad.
To read other headlines, you would think that neglect, abuse, and all manner of dysfunction inhabit every home on Main Street, every apartment on Broadway, in contemporary America. To the extent this is true (and can we all generally agree we live in a flawed, corrupt, society?) let us fix things, starting with the nearest mirror we can find, and proceeding: our households, our larger families, our neighborhoods, our schools, our workplaces, our governments and courts, our nation.
It is proper to relate all those problems, and all these areas where solutions can be made, to Fatherhood.
Fathers are heads of households, or should be (I mean there should BE fathers present in family units). Fathers are role models. Mothers make physical sacrifices; fathers do, too, but must add to the qualities of nurture. Guidance and example, counsel and wisdom, integrity in the workplace and in relationships, forbearance and leadership, strength and tenderness. All in ways much different than mothers’ duties to their children. Not more or less important, but, certainly, different.
It is best to look beyond the statistics and the poor examples in our news and neighborhoods. Work to correct… but look beyond. We should even look beyond the great examples – surely we all have them! – of our own loving fathers, tender parents, grandfathers who dispensed wisdom. For those of us whose fathers were heroes, as I can say, and who miss them every day, even then, even on Father’s Days, we may look past them.
The example is our Heavenly Father. Almighty, Omnipotent, Giver of life and of laws, Who loves us so much that His Son gave Himself so that all His other children might be free of their sins and commune eternally with Him. Father. “Abba” in the Bible – it means “Daddy”!
There is a story that James Abram Garfield, 20th president of the US, once gave advice to a father who asked about the possibility of the man’s son’s short-cutting his training. “Certainly,” Garfield is supposed to have replied. “But it all depends on what you want to make of your boy. When God wants to make an oak tree, He takes a hundred years. When He wants to make a squash, He requires only two months.”
The story says a lot about the type of children we may produce in this country. But it also says a lot about the proper attitude of proper fathers in this country.
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One of the great sentimental songs about Daddy was written by Elsie McWilliams and Jimmie Rodgers, and recorded by Rodgers, the “Father of Country Music.” Elsie was Jimmie’s sister-in-law and wrote many of his hits. Here it is performed with feeling by Tanya Tucker, a tribute to her own dad.
Click: Daddy and Home