Fatherís Day. For those with loving fathers, itís a time of gratitude. For others who donít know their dads, it hurts.
A single mom told me, ďIíll never get married. Iíd rather raise my kids alone. I donít need some man making my life miserable.Ē
I said, ďMaybe you feel that way because youíve never known the love of a good man.Ē
My friend agreed. For her, men brought selfish demands, betrayal, and abandonment. Sheís not alone, and such women likely view ďthe love of a good manĒ to be as mythical as a unicorn.
But just as mythical is the idea that kids donít need a father. Daughters learn what love from a man feels like first from their dads. If a girl never knows a fatherís kindness, strength and encouragement, she wonít look for it in a boyfriend. An absent father makes a lack of commitment feel familiar.
Boys need dads to relate in ways that only a man can to his son by way of role modeling protection, care and commitment. A fatherís love bolsterís a boyís confidence and his sense of belonging. A husband who loves his wife well shows his children how itís done.
Fathers are not dispensable, yet more and more, they are missing in families. A 2012 report by the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention show the percentage of single parent families grouped according to ethnicity or race:
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders -17 percent
Non-Hispanic whites - 29 percent
Hispanics - 53 percent
American Indian and Native Alaskans - 66 percent
Non-Hispanic blacks - 73 percent
Perhaps too many men, fatherless themselves, underestimate their own power in their childrenís lives. Maybe their own lack of positive role modeling renders them clueless as to ďhow itís doneĒ and they get out, like their M.I.A. fathers before them. Or maybe a manís emotional baggage or immaturity causes the mother of his kids to go solo.
For their kids, men should want better than what they had or knew in their own childhoods. That includes a healthy relationship between two parents, which requires kindness, give-and-take, and a desire to serve each other. Some men just donít know where to begin. Awareness is a good place to start.
Dysfunction begets dysfunction, and it stops when a man decides to be the last station on the trip to nowhere. His kids deserve a better destination.
To create a two-parent home starts with a willingness to do things differently, and then to follow through. There are countless fathers who see their kids as a primary legacy, and they stay present to help that vision unfold. Fatherís Day is for sharing such stories. What will your children say about you?
The love of a good man is transformative, especially for his children. Itís never too late to re-enter your childís life.

Email Suzette Standring at suzmar@comcast.net or visit her re-vamped website at www.readsuzette.com.