Father's Day is coming up this Sunday! Last month we wrote about characteristics of a healthy mother, so now it is time to do the same for fathers. I know this day can be exciting for some as they celebrate fatherhood, while for others it can be painful due to loss of a father, having a difficult relationship with a father, or having difficulty because you haven't become a dad.
Regardless of your feelings on Father's Day, we thought it would be helpful to write about traits to help you understand what a healthy dad looks like. We know this can bring up mixed feelings of gratitude or heartache depending on your relationship with your own father, and/ or how you have parented your own kids. We hope this will offer direction and hope in all of your relationships!
Characteristic #1: A Healthy Father Is Engaged and Present
Our society gives too much opportunity for distraction and pressure for men to be torn away from family. High demanding jobs that require extra work from home, technology that sucks you in, and difficulty balancing time in all areas of life can make it hard to be an engaging dad.
A healthy father, even if he is busy, sets aside time to be engaged with his family. When he is there, he is present. His attention is on his family by playing, talking, making eye contact, and asking questions. He makes the most of the little time he might get at home to be fully there when he is.
Healthy fathers get involved. They take initiative to be at events or part of them. They know what is going on and aren't always left in the dark with what is happening in their children's lives.
He embraces the tiny slices of time he gets with his kids because he knows that he could miss an opportunity as time flies by. Steven Curtis Chapman sings about this in his song "Cinderella" (which makes me cry every time I hear it!). In the song he gives examples throughout the life of his daughter's life when she has asked him to dance, and he's stopped to do it. Here's the first verse and chorus:
"She spins and she sways to whatever song plays without a care in the world And I'm sitting here wearing the weight of the world on my shoulders
It's been a long day and there's still work to do She's pulling at me saying "Dad, I need you there's a ball at the castle And I've been invited and I need to practice my dancing Oh, please, Daddy, please?"
So I will dance with Cinderella while she is here in my arms 'Cause I know something the prince never knew Oh, I will dance with Cinderella I don't want to miss even one song 'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight And she'll be gone..."
No matter what the distractions in life, a healthy father takes a moment to put it all aside and connect with his children. He makes his family a priority and shows it by being engaged and present at any chance he gets.
Check in all week for more great examples of healthy fathers and Happy Father's Day to all of you dad's out there!
Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC
Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.