Father or Friend?

Father’s Day.  We give Dad something like a pocket knife or a round of golf.  We remind him that we appreciate his work and that his role is valuable.  It’s a worthwhile holiday, even if it’s a bit underwhelming sometimes.  Nonetheless, a good dad is priceless, which is worth celebrating.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who are deeply-saddened on Father’s Day.  It’s a painful reminder of what could have been, or once was.  There are so many who would give anything to have a father to celebrate.  So many men wish they could go back in time and do it over again.  So many had a terrific dad, only to lose him.  For too many, Father’s Day is a reminder of disappointment or tragedy: car accident, cancer, divorce, abandonment, infertility, suicide, or decades of emotional distance.  Let this be a reminder that fatherhood should not be taken for granted.

Fortunately, there are many men who have enjoyed the privilege of fatherhood for decades and have taken the responsibility very seriously.  They are fortunate, indeed, as are their children.

An old college buddy of mine wrote on his FaceBook wall the following tribute to his dad.  Growing up, he never was distracted by trying to get me to like him – probably the most impressive thing about his love for me. I see parents all the time that try to get their kids to like them so THEY can feel good. It takes a takes a hell of a lot of vision, self-confidence, and faith to be a great parent.”

It’s such a tough job, being a parent. It’s one thing or another, an uphill journey with no end.  It’s my firm belief that the price of being a loving parent is high, one way or another.  You pay now, or pay later.  But the highest price is the paid along the path of least resistance. Those who take the easy road parenting end up in the worst destinations.  But those who choose to sacrifice, serve, teach, discipline, encourage, and love their kids daily, making their kids’ needs (not wants) their top priority, will have a tough time of it too.  Later, however, they will enjoy the sweet fruits of their work, in the form of beautiful, powerful relationships – full of respect and affection.

Unfortunately, the norm seems to be that parents are giving up the hard role of being a parent and taking on the fun role of just being a friend.  So many kids are raising themselves – ineffectively.  They are figuring things out the hard way, or not figuring things out in any way.  And that is one of society’s biggest problems.  This is largely due to parents making deals with their kids to make them happy, rather than making the tough choices that lead to good character.

So, choose to be the adult in your relationship with your child.  And encourage others (tactfully, of course) to be the parent, not just a friend.  Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.”  Training is tough, but it pays off.  Ask any athlete, soldier, or dog owner.

Be the adult, the teacher, the leader, the protector, the provider, the encourager — and yes, the friend.  The payoff will be immense.

Author: Andy Kerckhoff

I'm a husband, father, teacher. I'm doing my best, wishing I could do better, and trying to help others to effectively lead kids through early adolescence.

2 thoughts on “Father or Friend?”

  1. Father’s Day is a very tough day for my daughter, as her father has been pretty absent most of her life. She wants so badly to have a daddy who loves her. I have raised her alone from day one. I try to play both roles, but can never be a dad. I go to every athletic event, every piano recital, every awards ceremony. I support, encourage, and cheer her on through every aspect of her life. I am also a strong disciplinarian. I run a tight ship and expect respect and manners to be a constant. We have an amazing relationship. She knows I’m strict, but has seen the alternative, and knows I am because I love her. She likes it that way and always hopes for a teacher that is strict, as well.
    I agree that too many parents just want to be their child’s friend and don’t do enough parenting. What they need to realize, is that by parenting properly, you develop a very strong bond with your child. There will always be difficult and challenging times as a parent, but what else is to be expected from the toughest job in the world-raising a decent human being.

    1. Shannon, Thank you for your comments. Keep up the good fight. I was raised well by a single mom, so I know how hard it is. Blessings to your and your family.

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