Published Articles

The Importance of Being a Father
published in June 2005 issue of QC Family Focus

Anthony D. Rodriguez, MSW, LISW, LCSW, BCSA

I came home late from work tonight to find my 3-year old still up, resisting sleep. He ran up to me, “papa, papa.” Then he gave me a hug. I picked him up, held him tight, and kissed him. I carried him back to his room, where his older brother was asleep on the floor — apparently they were camping. To help my youngest fall asleep, I lay down between he and his brother and began to rub his back. At first he looked at me and then I found his gaze slowly fading. When he was finally asleep, I just lay there and thought how lucky I am to have two wonderful sons sleeping soundly next to me — it was a good feeling.

As my thoughts wandered I started thinking of all the adults, teens, and children that I worked with through the years. Unfortunately, most of them didn't have the type of relationship with their fathers that I have with my children. It saddens me because I know how much my father's presence and love enriched my life. It saddens me because a few kind words, hugs, and a simple “I love you” or “I'm proud of you” would have made a memorable difference for them.

Fathers today have difficulty finding time, or spending time, with their children. Some of us either bring work home or work around the house. There is always something to do, to accomplish, and to be on time for. The expectation of being “the bread winner” comes with a hidden cost because we lost sight of what we cherish most — our children. We miss out on their laughter, tears, stories, and jokes. We forfeit memories of their childhood.

There are those of us who want our children to have the benefits that we didn't have growing up. However in our noble attempt to make things better, we fall short on recognizing their needs and interests. Rather, our children are overshadowed by our own anxieties, failures, and disappointments. We try to “toughen” them up, but wind up weakening their spirit. Tragically, we fail to understand that generous “kind” words build confidence.

Dads, put down your Blackberry, your power drill, your newspaper. Get on the floor and play with your toddler. Take off your work gloves and run around the yard with your 7-year-old. Turn off your computer, your television, your cell phone and take the time to listen to your teenager — empathize with their experience of how challenging life can be. Tell your children that they are amazing. Let them know by your actions and words that you will love them forever. If you still need to do some “guy thing” like building, then build memories of their childhood — for them and for you.

As for me, I'm going to shut down this computer and go to my boys' room. I'm going to gaze at them and thank God how lucky I am. Happy Father's Day, my friends.


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