Father of the Year

I’ve been quiet for a number of months now – not for lack of thinking of writing, but I guess there truly is a season for everything.

And I guess it takes something significant to stir the desire to add something to the ever increasing depth of fatherhood blogging.  Something like the recent commentary on true fatherhood with the announcement by the National Father’s Day Council (US) that Bill Clinton has been named “Father of the Year“.

Shocked?  Maybe.  Our memories are not too short to drift back to the days of the early nineties and the drama surrounding Mr. Clinton’s very public private life.  The comments at the end of the politico.com article show this to be true.

Yet looking over the news release put out by Rueters, there is no mention of him as a father other than saying he has one daughter, Chelsey.  Here is what Dan Orwig of the Father’s Day Council says in the news release:

“With the profound generosity, leadership and tireless dedication to both his public office and many philanthropic organizations, president Clinton exemplifies the attributes that we celebrate through the father of the year award.”

These are all good things – strong values that impact our world.  But this says nothing about Mr. Clinton’s relationship with his wife and daughter.  I’m curious why the standards are set outside the home?    Are they saying that the best dads are primarily involved in people’s lives outside of their families?

What are the standards we hold fathers to?

faithfulness to the mother of their child?
being a role-model worthy of their children’s respect?
community service?
church attendance?
reading to their children every night?
being gracious with their leadership of their family?
driving a minivan?

Fatherhood is more than a relationship between a man and his children.  It is a statement to the world that there are good men, and good men are necessary for the future of a just society.  Some would even say that a father’s heart focused on his children keeps peace and blessing in a society.  I believe this to be true.

Are there good men out there?   I believe this also.  They are being the men that this world needs – men who care about truth, have high standards of themselves, expect high standards from people around them, and react with grace when those standards are not met.  The only place that Father of the Year should really matter is within the home of each and every dad, grand-dad, uncle and older brother who is influencing a child.

So despite our recollections of Mr. Clinton’s affairs, we must remember that 20 years have passed.  People do change.  Commitments can be renewed.  Grace can be shown – even to men who make very public and potentially damaging choices. But I can’t help but wonder if the premis under which he has been named Father of the Year doesn’t water down the essence of strong fatherhood.

And so I won’t give in to the urging and swaying and prompting to compromise the standard of what strong fatherhood is.  Those standards are the footprints by which children can find their way.  Those are the standards that I hope you help me reach for.

“How do good men become part of the regime?
They don’t believe in resistance.”
Josh Garrels,
The Resistance,
on Love & War & the Sea In Between

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