Growing up, I marveled over my father’s puritan work ethic, deep commitment to our family and willingness to sacrifice for the greater good of our family. Watching my father navigate his fatherhood journey left an indelible mark on my psyche and afforded me essential tools that prepared me for my fatherhood journey. Over the years, I would hear that parenting does not come with a how-to manual. I would submit that watching my father provided me with the quintessential blueprint to being a great father and understanding the role fathers play in healthy family development.
My parenting journey has been a rich experience celebrating the power of intentional fatherhood and shaping a vision for my family. This vision began with my children creating simple yet impactful household traditions. One of our favorite household traditions was associated with bedtime and included bathing then selecting a book for story time and saying goodnight prayers before bed. These simple practices were creating a spiritual foundation and a love for learning that continue to nurture my children into young adulthood.
As a husband and father of three exceptional young adult children, I remember being in the labor and delivery room beaming with pride and optimism for each birth. I have always viewed fatherhood as a calling and one of the greatest expressions of humanity. Raising my children has been one of the single most extraordinary experiences of my life and my most significant contribution to society.
Witnessing the birth of one’s child is a unique human and spiritual experience that men share worldwide. Sadly, due to various circumstances, many men never realize the power of fatherhood and the ethical responsibilities associated with child-rearing. This phenomenon has created alarming challenges related to father absence and family instability. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18.4 million children, one in four, live without a biological father, stepfather or adoptive father in the home. These numbers translate into a host of mental health, social and
Given the challenges fathers face, focusing on strengths and resiliency ensures fathers better understand their role as parents and caregivers. Supporting fathers is one of the most important things we can do as a society to preserve families and enhance the quality-of-life indicators in communities. The journey can be an emotional roller coaster for fathers, filled with various highs and lows.
Have a conversation with an increasing number of fathers, and you will hear many stories highlighting challenges
with work-life balance and the provocative question “am I a good father?” Fathers ponder this existential question regardless of race and social-economic background. At the same time, many mothers may be surprised to realize that many fathers feel inadequate and frustrated along their fatherhood journey. Unfortunately, fathers are often marginalized using a broad brush that fails to acknowledge their daily contributions as fathers.
With Father’s Day fast approaching, I hope that fathers internalize the essence of fatherhood and understand the vital role fathers play in the socialization and maturation of their children. As a society, we need to show a greater appreciation for fathers and support them in the critical roles they play. Yet, it is up to us as fathers to become exemplary men and highlight the best of what it means to be a loving and engaged father.
Wishing all the fathers and father figures a fantastic Father’s Day and a prosperous fatherhood journey!
David C. Miller, M.Ed., facilitates fatherhood groups across the DMV and is a celebrated children’s book author living in Southeast Washington, D.C. His books include “Chef Toussaint,” “Winnie, the Wizard of Wall Street” and “Gabe & His Green Thumb.”