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Late in June, we celebrate Father’s Day once again in modern America.
To those who have fathers who are still living, who know who their father is, who remain on good speaking terms with their father, or who think it is important enough to communicate in a special way on this special day, Father’s Day can be a truly meaningful relational investment. Both with my natural father while he was living, and with my father-in-law, I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to honor them for the tremendous value they brought to our family. But then again, I’m “old school,” and a very early baby-boomer who grew up in what the liberals like to call the “fantasy days” of the healthy American family in the 1940s and 1950s.
Raised in post World War II Seattle, I went all through grammar school and graduated from high school with the same kids. To my knowledge, none of the kids had divorced parents and the “traditional family” was not a myth, contrary to what the revisionist pundits and social workers want us to believe.
We knew virtually all our neighbors for blocks around by name, and most of them also knew us and our parents. Both fathers and mothers garnered common respect from their children. I don’t remember any of my friends bad-mouthing their parents beyond their fears that their Dad “might kill them” if he found out they’d been smoking or some other “really bad thing” like that. Through high school, that really was the world in which most of the five hundred-plus graduating kids of my school lived. I’m sure there were some truly negative home situations, but that kind of business seldom made it to the streets.
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day were prominent events noted by the newspapers, media, schools, and obviously the town merchants. Picnics and BBQs were common, gifts assumed. Fathers, in particular, still carried the role of rule-setters and enforcers of the parental standards, and talking back to a father was not only viewed as “uncool” by the youth, but sometimes even dangerous in terms of going on “restriction” or getting your face slapped. Moms, though strict, were nurturers; dads carried the executive role which the modern media and culture have done so much to ridicule, deny, and make go away in so many areas of our culture.
All of this may sound naïve or simply nostalgic when spoken into a modern America where nearly fifty percent of the families are “broken” or disconnected by divorce, or even multiple divorce. Seven out of ten African-Americans are born without lawfully married fathers, and the Anglo world is on a similar trajectory. However, there are still some real life “Cosby Family” and “Ozzie and Harriet” types in spite of these dismal statistics.
Pendulums sometimes swing before the social fabric of cultures implodes. America may be graced with such good fortune. There are still a goodly number of us “dinosaurs” left to model the old ways. In truth, I believe it all begins by honoring the Fatherhood of God, and in every really important way, that is……the bottom line.