Father’s Day is a relatively modern construction. Cynics might say it’s merely a marketing device to help sell cards, ‘best dad in the world’ mugs, and Sunday lunches. Some parts of the established church might choose to highlight that, unlike Mothering Sunday, Father’s Day is not part of the church calendar. And some of the hurting in our society may raise their voice to point out that us men are a pretty feckless bunch, (or sometimes downright predatory), and don’t really deserve a special day.
But regardless of these issues, I personally have no doubt that a day set aside for celebrating fathers and fatherhood is a good thing, and here are my 5+ top reasons for thinking this:
1. Remembrance. A Facebook friend was recently flying over a football stadium and was reminded of when his dad used to take him there to watch his home-town club. My own father passed away in 2010, but recently my Mum, my brother and I had the opportunity to buy a memorial brick in a new pavilion being built at the Cricket Club where he used to play. This was somewhere I spent many enjoyable summers, being mentored in the mysteries of cricket and responsible drinking by dad’s team-mates. In our busy lives, we sometimes have to snatch moments to reflect on (and hopefully express thanks for) the fathers who are no longer with us. Father’s Day offers that opportunity and I’ll be taking a moment to say ‘thanks Dad’.
2. Inclusiveness. Father’s Day doesn’t need to exclude men who are not fathers themselves. A good friend of mine with a penchant for public speaking, has recently described himself as ‘the son of many fathers and a father to many sons’. I know what he means. As men, our journey to mature adulthood can be guided by many male role models, and we in turn can make a conscious effort to be a good father-figure to all the children we know, not just our own offspring.
3. Importance. Fathers are a threatened species. Today families come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and there is nothing wrong with that. However one consequence is that society has to redefine ‘family’, and some of those definitions have chosen to include the word ‘mother’, but exclude the word ‘father’. Father’s Day reminds us that we all have a biological father.
4. Community. Dads and father-figures are good for community. As national coordinator for Who Let The Dads Out?, part of my job is to promote the idea that bringing groups of dads together, with their children, can help family relationships, strengthen communities and create an opportunity to discuss values and beliefs. One simple way of doing this is to run a Saturday morning club for men and their kids and throw in a substantial quantity of breakfast butties. If you want to explore this idea further then visit www.wholetthedadsout.org.uk
5. A higher being. As a regular church-goer, I am used to the biblical imagery of God as our Heavenly Father. Having had a good father myself, I am comfortable with this imagery and it helps my faith to consider God in this way. I have friends whose experience is different, and I fully understand that this might influence whether they are able to believe in a Father God. Nevertheless, on Father’s Day I will be reminded of the parable of the prodigal son, and of the extravagant father who welcomed him home.
5+. My stomach. Finally, and probably most importantly, there is a good chance that I’ll get breakfast in bed!
So this Father’s Day, my family and I are planning to beg, borrow or steal hire some kayaks, and head for Lake Bala in North Wales to splash around on the water, have a real laugh and probably get very wet. In the midst of that we’ll try to take a few moments to give thanks to God for our fathers. What about you?
Who Let The Dads Out? National Coordinator