My Father’s Day18
My Father’s Day – David Hirsch, September 15, 2014
25 years ago today, my oldest son was born and I became a father, for the first time. That makes today My Father’s Day. Think about it. Your birthday actually represents the day your father became a father for the first, or perhaps a second, or third time, or more.
While our family celebrates today – and each September 15th – as young Dave’s birthday, I’m pausing to reflect on the profound change which began on My Father’s Day a quarter of a century ago when I added the title of “father” to my being. I was no longer just a man and a husband, but a father. It was, very simply, a life-changing event.
Like most, I had the better part of nine months to prepare, but it was virtually impossible to know what lied ahead. There were 101 questions. Am I ready to be a dad?.. Will I be a good dad?.. Will I be able to balance family and work?.. Will I have a good relationship with my child?.. Will I be able to handle the myriad of challenges – financial, physical, and emotional to name a few?.. At a very basic level, why even be a father? The questions went on and on.
Becoming a father helped me reflect on those who most influenced me. I’ve always thought you can learn from both good and bad role models - emulating those setting a good example and hopefully learning vicariously from those who made bad choices. For some it’s their father, a stepfather, a grandfather or some other male role models. While I inherited many of my positive character attributes from Sam Solomon, my maternal grandfather, I realize now so much of my fatherhood learning was done informally and in the company of other fathers whose children were many years older than mine. These slightly more “seasoned” fathers served as sort of a fathering GPS. I was able to see the road ahead, better anticipate hazards, and avoid certain obstacles.
25 years is plenty of time to reflect on the role of being a father and the role of fathers in society. From a personal perspective, I simply can’t imagine what my life would be like without being a father. Think George Bailey and his angel Clarence. From a societal perspective an estimated 4 of 10 - or 24,000,000 - children across America grow up in father absent homes. 41% of all children are born out of wedlock. These single parent (mostly mother head of) households are subject to higher levels of; poverty, teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, crime, incarceration and suicide. All because there are no dads.
I see very clearly legions of wounded souls, men and women, young and old, those with means and without, scared by the effects of father absence. Like mental illness, the scars of father absence lurk in the shadows of our lives undermining human potential.
I thank God for providing me with this opportunity to be a father. I thank Peggy, my wife of 31 years, for bearing our first son and his four siblings. I thank my children for the privilege of being their dad. And, I thank all those seasoned fathers – past and present - for their guidance and advice over the years.
If you’re dad is still alive, use your birthday to honor your dad by giving him a call or sending him a card with a note of thanks on His Father’s Day. If your father is no longer alive, do something in his honor that would make him proud. To all fathers, best wishes on Your Father’s Day. And lastly, happy birthday son. I’m proud to be your dad.
Click Here to submit your favorite photo in the Faces of Fatherhood promotion in one of the following categories:
- My Father’s Day (for dads) – a photo like the one above on the day you became a father,
- Father of My Child (for moms) – a photo of the father of your child with your child, and
- Me & My Dad (for all) – a favorite photo of you and your dad and short essay describing what your father means (or meant) to you.
All photos will be posted. One photo will be selected each week and the person who submitted the photo & essay will receive a complementary Great Dad Coin.