Just a little past halfway through President Obama’s State of the Union address last night, he said a key phrase that probably went unnoticed by most viewers. Lost in the shuffle of partisan politics, general policy, standard rhetoric, and watching John Boehner act interested, a key phrase was issued. Those that are most impacted by it, and can wholly relate to it, were very cognizant of what was said. In fact, those in the ‘club’ had their ears perk up when it came out of his mouth. In the context of building families, Obama said…
“…do more to encourage fatherhood, because what makes you a man isn’t the ability to conceive a child, it’s having the courage to raise one.”
There are many ways to look at this statement. As a father that is fully engaged in the daily lives of my daughters, it makes me extremely proud to serve this role in their lives. I think back to when my oldest daughter was born. I was a young man then and was quite apprehensive about the whole situation. I remember my concern with being able to take care of a child and whether my wife and I were ‘ready’ for it. She told me then, in her infinite wisdom, ‘you’re never really ready for it, you just do it’. She was right. You can’t sit around and analyze and plan everything leading up to having a child. I also remember the great joy I experienced throughout the entire process. From attending the early doctor appointments, hearing the first heartbeat, buying all the alien items I had to buy at the store up to the point of being in the delivery room for the birth. It is an AMAZING process. Every day my love for my child and my family grew stronger and continues to flourish to this day. Yes, there is courage involved with being a father to your children. There are many things you don’t know, things you have to figure out along the way, and things you just don’t understand and probably won’t. There are decisions, sometimes tough, that need to be made. But, at the end of the day, you are their father and you are there for them no matter what.
That brings me to the other aspect to this phrase in the State of the Union and really a key question. Why does this phrase even need to be issued? It’s a sad commentary on the state of our culture today. The fact you need to specifically call out the need for someone to be a father to their children is depressing. I’m blown away by the fact men walk away from their kids. Forget about the responsibility angle. Just think of the pure relationship aspect of it. That is your child, a part of you. You created something wonderful and they are dependent on you for the rest of their lives. I don’t understand how a person could walk away from that. If you notice, I used the term ‘person’ as I agree with President Obama. Only real men are there for their kids.
For those fathers that may be struggling with the day to day and feel overwhelmed, stay courageous. You ARE making a difference in your kid’s life.