Father Defined

Author: Byron Pulsifer, © 2017

What does a father look like, what does he do.

Provider
Obviously, one needs to recognize that a person who is a father is one who has a child or children. This clearly is a distinction between being a husband, who has no children, and a father denoting the presence of a child or children. A father provides for a child from the outset of birth. This means that he provides a shelter or home, a source of physical protection from the elements, clothing to keep warm and dry, and sufficient foods to nourish. In essence, the preceding provisions provide for the necessities of life to a baby who has no means to provide for their own protection or well-being.

The provisions, as previously mentioned, do not stop as a child grows. In fact, the provisions are necessary until the child leaves the family nest. The only things that change are relative to the needs as a child matures but are essentially comprised of the same ingredients.

Protector
A father is the protector of the child and the whole family unit. A protector's role changes by degree as a child matures from one ensuring that no physical harm comes to the child in what might be called a "child proof environment", to the protection offered by way of diligent counsel in the manifestation of harm that could come about by worldly physical harm from outside. In addition, while teaching what might be called "street smarts" relative to physical danger that should be discussed and reinforced in a consistent manner.

But, in addition, a father's love is also strongly directed to the prevention and guardian of psychological harm. This means that the father's role is to protect the child from either psychological abuse within the home as well as to protect against systematic psychological abuse outside the home. The imperative, however, is the prevention and understanding of what constitutes psychological abuse within the confines of the home. It is imperative to be constantly vigilant to ensure that each of the family unit members understands what is and what psychological abuse isn't. Some of this abuse can be so insidious that it goes or is undertaken without recognition. The equivalency of this type of abuse can be as simple as the constant ridicule of a child without recognizing that there is more verbalization of ridicule and much less of encouragement for supportive behavior.

Encourager
No matter who you are, no matter how strong your personality and no matter how strong you are in overcoming issues of life there is the need to receive encouragement along the way. It is true that everyone is different to the point where encouragement for some has to be constant while others need only a once and a while words of encouragement. However, in a child's development, it is the encouragement received on a constant basis that bodes well for them in the future to pass this personality trait onto another easily. This means that to have received consistent and on-going encouragement as a child is the same behavior that allows the grown child to be able to feel good enough to engage in encouraging behaviors as a matter of course and not as a struggle. The act of giving is much easier when the act has been received in the past so much so that it is an engrained part of one's being.

Disciplinarian
The first distinction that must be made relative to the term disciplinarian is that there is a distinct difference between one who disciplines and one who punished. To discipline is to demonstrate love but to punish is not. Discipline resides in the realm of knowing what constitutes a mistake and constitutes a deliberate decision. A mistake is no more than a mistake and does in no way deserve discipline of punishment or consequence. A mistake should be recognized as similar to an accidental spilling of a glass of milk or an errant baseball shattering a pane of glass resulting from joyful play in the backyard.

A mistake should be clearly distinguished from a deliberate act of disobedience. Disobedience means that a child, with full knowledge between doing what is right or expected and doing what is wrong, commits an act or a form of behavior that is known to be wrong. Such an act, for example, could be the theft of a candy bar from a convenience store where it is fully understood by the child that this behavior is wrong. In this situation, discipline is required to remind the child of what is already an engrained understanding. However, the discipline that is merited is not taken from the belief in punishment per se but in terms of a demonstration of love of a father who only wants to reinforce to a child what is right and what is wrong.

Love
The love of a father has its essence in on-going care, compassion, kindness, help, teaching, guiding and friendship. Love demonstrated by a father sees no restriction of time; there is never any inconvenience; there is never any inconsistency; there is never a withholding; and there is never an end. A father's love is timeless extending to the point of one's departure from this world. It is a love manifested in words and actions that leaves a legacy to a child to pass on to their own family unit as well as to those around them. It is a love so strong that its' glow and manifestation is not limited by distance nor by time.

Mentor
What does it mean to be a mentor? The word 'mentor' means Mentor (n.) to be a wise, trusted counselor or teacher or an influential, sponsor or supporter. A mentor acts not for what they get back but out of devotion to assist another. A father as a mentor provides a mentoring role in various shades as a child matures and continues in this role despite the age of the mature child. Oftentimes, the mentoring role comes natural. It is this way because the father has continuously made himself available to provide counsel or to provide a listening ear where it is better to let someone talk through and discover their own answer than to provide it.

A mentor is a father who puts their role before their own needs; a father who knows when to ask a question when silence seems the norm and also when to sit quietly side by side a child to provide a presence of security and acceptance in the midst of silence. The father mentor offers not so much the right answer but more so the options to a question allowing a child to benefit from weighing the pros and cons in their own decision making processes. A great mentor also learns as they mature through their own world experiences where, thereafter, they provide a balance to what the growing child is experiencing.

Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:
Here are some great words to ponder over. Take your time and dissect their meaning whether you are a father, a child, or a grandfather:

"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years." Mark Twain

"One night a father overheard his son pray: Dear God, Make me the kind of man my Daddy is. Later that night, the Father prayed, Dear God, Make me the kind of man my son wants me to be." Author Unknown

"Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance." Ruth E. Renkel So, like all proud fathers do, I boasted about all of their successes and all of the joy they bring to my wife and me. Dennis Lominac, My Family is My Life


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