Somewhere between the 1950s hit TV show Father Knows Best and the adventures of Homer Simpson, fatherhood took a hit, and as Rodney Dangerfield put it is so well, men got no respect. But with Father’s Day on the horizon, I’m inspired by five men who represent the quiet heroism of great dads who show up every day to make their families’ lives better.
As head of Students for Life of America, which serves more than 1,200 clubs on college and university campuses, I hear a lot of stories about how families come together. But a new team member, Christina Herrera, has a dad and a grandfather who definitely inspire.
Her parents were young and unmarried when Christina was conceived, a surprise for them both. A single mother, Christina’s mom didn’t want another child, but her father went with her to a Planned Parenthood to talk her out of an abortion, pledging to take care of them all, including her son from a previous relationship. And he did. Though eventually the marriage ended, he raised Christina and her brother, with some help from his parents in a home headed by another hero dad (and mom) who welcomed the children into their lives and home.
Christina says that her father’s commitment to her and her brother stayed steady through all the ups and downs, the kind of trials that impact a lot of us. But it was the love of a man for his children that made a difference in her life, Christina tells me. And I’ve seen that in my own home.
My husband, a teacher by training, left his job to homeschool our children and to care for them, as two of our four have cystic fibrosis and need consistent and daily care. While I am the primary breadwinner, traveling across the country, he does the hard daily work at home of making sure that our children know every day that they are safe and loved.
I wouldn’t be able to do the work I do without my husband, and I would never have had the confidence to swing for the fences in my career without the encouragement of my dad, who provided for his family in a blue-collar job in West Virginia, teaching me life lessons of hard work, of diligence, and of the practical steps it takes to realize a dream.
College and career were not in his mind a possibility for his children. They were a certainty. And so we had to get to work to make it come true. He taught me to keep my eyes on the goals of life, refusing to give up when things get hard . . . and they will.
Great fathers do so much for their families just by being there, every day, sleeves rolled up and ready to get to work.
Every day families are formed, perhaps by birth or adoption or friendships that change lives, in hearts and homes. No matter how that family forms, every day adults have a choice to make about putting the needs of children over their own desires.
As a person of faith, I’m reminded that even Jesus had an adopted father, named Joseph, who clearly cared and protected him, taught him a trade, and shared all that he was.
Great fathers do so much for their families just by being there, every day, sleeves rolled up and ready to get to work. A tie doesn’t seem like enough of a gift to say thank you for all that dads bring to the table. But as I think about Christina’s dad and grandfather, my husband and father, and even Joseph, I’m thankful that there are great examples around us all — if we look for them — of men who are changing the world . . . one child’s heart at a time.