If women were to provide a list of characteristics for the ideal man, on that list somewhere would be "good father". But the definition of a good father is harder to pin down. My own definition is shamelessly stolen from a Jayne Ann Krentz book--Grand Passions. The hero tells a younger man that the most important qualification for a father is to "just show up."
In an era of absentee fathers, divorced fathers, it-was-too-much-so-I- split fathers, and I'm-tired-of-the-responsibility fathers, those words take on deeper meaning. Just show up. Be there. Be there for the ups, downs, and middle ground. Be there for the triumphs and the failures... for the joy and the sorrow.
It takes a special man to be a father. Biology is not required, but love and discipline are. Providing an example for a child is so much harder than any other job. As a popular country songs says..."I'm watching you..." Yes, our children are.
Children look to their mothers for comfort and the softness in their lives, but they look to their fathers for stability. He provides the sturdy platform for their life. He shows them by his example exactly what a man should be. If he treats his wife shoddily, then that's what his children will think is the correct way. If he demonstrates love and how to share responsibilities, then that's what his children will learn.
Does he value books? Does he have a personal moral code? Does he pick up after himself? Does he pitch in with the chores? Every action is evaluated as our sons strive to emulate their fathers and our daughters make mental notes for the future when they're looking for their own men.
Fathers. The backbone of the family. On this seventh day of November, let us give thanks for the men who have taken up the responsibilities of fatherhood, whether they're father, uncle, grandfather, stepfather or foster father.