Before I started preaching, I spoke regularly on behalf of fathers in front of civic clubs, school and hospital groups. My favorite presentation was based on a training series from the National Center for Fathering using the acrostic: I.C.A.N. These letters represent my wish for you on Father’s Day.
Father absence has long been identified as a drain on the well-being of our children. Sons and daughters struggle with health, academic, self-esteem and self-control issues when they miss the presence of their father. Unfortunately, over 24 million children will lay their head on their pillow tonight without a father in the house. That number has not lessened for a couple of decades.
Father absence isn’t the only drain on a child’s well-being; the quality of the presence of a father increases with his attention to these important factors. Dads need to work hard to be involved, consistent, aware and nurturing.
Involved dads are in touch with their children’s feelings, friendships and daily routines. They are in the stands when their children compete in athletic or music events and in the game when they interact with them. That means that involved dads play catch with their kids on practice days and cheer for them on game days.
Consistency is an important quality of a dad’s involvement. He doesn’t come to games occasionally, he makes every one. He doesn’t correct an unkind word one day and let it go the next. Every aspect of his life is predictable enough to provide structure and stability to his children. He goes to work consistently, plays with his children consistently and communicates with his family consistently.
Dads also need to be aware of the world around their children. They know the teachers, coaches and friends who spend time with their children. They inspect the homework, test papers, interactions and new words or habits displayed after being with other people. This requires more conversation than, “How was your day?” Aware dads know their children’s favorite foods, activities, books and televisions shows. They observe and ask about these things often because favorite things change.
While we normally associate nurture with moms, an involved father spends time nurturing his relationship with his children. Spending time with his children increases his involvement; engaging his children in conversation and play contributes to a nurturing relationship. Nurture is expressed through caring words and affectionate touch. Since infancy, dad’s lap has been known as a familiar, loving place. Encouraging words, quick and gentle advice, clear teaching and an enjoyable presence demonstrate dad’s nurture.
The beginning letters of these four qualities also speak about dad’s presence. I.C.A.N. is a description of the confidence dad has when he exhibits these qualities. Children are blessed by involved, consistent, aware and nurturing fathers.
Happy Father’s Day! It is my prayer that you exhibit and receive these blessings.