So, dad, how did you do on Mother’s Day? Did you honor your bride? Did you remember to nudge your kids so they honored their mom? Did you honor your own mom?
If you dropped the ball, I’m definitely not going to beat you up. That’s not my style. But I am going to give you an opportunity for a kind of do-over. Stay with me now.
When it comes to celebrating Mother’s Day, every family and every year is different. Traditions, expectations, and circumstance all need to be considered. Some moms got breakfast in bed and were treated like a queen for the entire day. Some spent Mother’s Day 2015 sitting in bleachers at softball, baseball, or soccer tournaments. For some families it was a graduation weekend and the accomplishments of a son or daughter overshadowed Mother’s Day.
In our family, the jam-packed weekend included a double birthday celebration for my two grandsons—matching cousins Judah and Jack—who turned two years old on May 9 and May 13. Mother’s Day also happened to be my daughter-in-law Megan’s 30th birthday. It was also the first Mother’s Day for another daughter-in-law, Kaitlin, who gave us our first granddaughter just two weeks earlier. As a family, we also quietly celebrated my mom’s last Mother’s Day. She’s 88 and my siblings and I recently agreed to order hospice care for her final weeks (or months). No need to go into details.
Please don’t overanalyze that last paragraph. You will not be quizzed on the Payleitner family tree or any of our holiday activities. But don’t miss this point: The focus of Mother’s Day Weekend 2015 was NOT on my bride, Rita, who by the way is the best mom in the world and deserves to be the center of attention.
Which got me thinking. Maybe Father’s Day should not be about me. And just maybe it shouldn’t be about you either.
What if you and I made an intentional effort to reach out and be an encouragement to other dads in need this coming Father’s Day? Are you confident enough to do that? It really doesn’t take much.
You could probably list five men you know who are disconnected, overwhelmed, or even feeling discouraged as a dad. I’m thinking of guys who travel a lot. Or live across town from their kids. Or maybe have an addiction that has thrown up some walls. Maybe they just lost their job. Maybe they’re in prison. Or maybe they feel helpless because they’re trying to stay connected to a teenager making some bad decisions. New dads, stepdads, foster dads, father figures. The list goes on.Just by reading this blog, you’ve demonstrated that you care about fatherhood. Well, how about taking it a step further for those dads you know and care about?
In the days leading up to Father’s Day 2015, take one of those five dads to lunch. Or give each of them an upbeat phone call, text, or email. Let these guys know they’re not alone, and maybe even promise to pray for them. Invite one of those discouraged dads to be part of your small group, softball team, or game night. For those five men, go to your bookshelf and grab five slightly used books written for dads (or buy some new books) and give them away. Sign the inside front cover with a word of encouragement like, “From one dad to another,” or “Keep up the good work.”
This is especially important if you’re a grandfather. Your son or son-in-law needs to know that you have confidence in him. He needs to be told, “You can do this. You’re a wonderful father. Thank you for leading your family.”
So this Father’s Day … will you join me and be a dad who encourages other dads?
Just like Rita allowed the focus of “her” day to shift to her mother-in-law and her daughters-in-law, I am going to set aside “my” day to be an encourager for other dads. Together we can help this generation of dads pursue greatness as fathers and lead our families in a powerful way.
Just Make the Most of Father’s Day. Just Be Dad.
Jay Payleitner is a best-selling author of more than a dozen books on fathering and family life, as well as a speaker, radio producer and long-time friend and partner of the National Center for Fathering. His book 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad has sold more than 150,000 copies. His latest books, 52 Things to Pray for Your Kids and The Dad Book, are out just in time for Father’s Day. Jay and his wife, Rita, live near Chicago, where they’ve raised five great kids (and now have three grandkids) and have loved on ten foster babies.