Over my lifetime, I have come to understand what a father is not.
A father does not brand a son as his own but recognizes the young person as a whole body, mind and spirit—a separate person from the father. Perhaps the child is even an electric guitar player like Santana where the father had played the soft strings of acoustic guitars like George Strait.
A father does not abandon the mother to raise up the children on her own but relishes days at the park, evening meetings with elementary teachers, diaper changing duties in the middle of the night, and most of all, provides monthly clothing support for all his children.
A father does not snuff out the spunky spirit of the daughter or her mother to sink a selfish win. But a father does encourage the daughter and the daughter’s mother to follow their dreams and scale the mountain, swim the pond, or stack up the degrees. He encourages them to take on skills that girls have been discouraged from like science, technology, engineering and math careers. A father encourages a child’s career choice even if it is drawing cartoons or painting theater scenes.
A father does not shake the baby in frustration at the crying; but the father does rock the baby to soothe away the teething pain or stomachache. A father is as tender to the infant as the mother he watches. Like her, he also gently holds the baby and rocks endlessly in the wicker rocker by the window.
A father does not yell out a sergeant’s drill when only a hug will do. A father does listen and offers suggestions along the child’s path to sustainability.
A father does not growl and grimace at a child’s missteps; but a father stands back ready to hug, talk and play along the ups and downs of learning boundaries and scaling hardships to success and thriving.
Most of all, a father does not abuse loved ones; but showers love verbally, and in reality, by planting flowers, driving the family for play dates at the fishing hole, and building a safe place called home.