This past Sunday we celebrated Father’s Day.

It is a special day of recognition for the fathers and father figures in our lives. It also serves to highlight to the importance that positive male influence has in the development of young men. As I think on this topic, the quote “like father, like son” comes to mind. This idiom has been around for hundreds of years and it is used when different generations of a family behave in the same way or have the same talents or defects.  Father’s Day is also a reminder that fathers knowingly or unknowingly shape the behavior of their sons.

Father’s Day reminds us that some sons see their fathers as someone they would like to be like. For me, my father was that man. He was a burly man whose nickname was “Big Man.” He spoke softly, but carried a big stick. He was not afraid of anybody or anything, and he said what he meant and meant what he said. He was street savvy and a jack of all trades. Growing up, besides his rugged looks, I saw very little of myself in him, but deep down inside, I believe that one day, I would grow up to be more like him. I did.

Father’s Day unfortunately remind us that some sons see their fathers as someone they do not want to be like. These sons see their fathers (absent or present) as a liability. They go out of their way to reject any comparison to their biological fathers, and some go as far as to limit their contact with them. These men insist that if their father was not a part of their life during their formative years, they reject the offer for him be a part of their adulthood. This becomes a lose-lose situation. Without a father to help positively shape the son’s behavior, good or bad, the son is often left to become a product of his environment. 

Father’s Day remind us that father figures can and do fill in the void left by absent and deceased fathers. All men can be a father figure and a positive role model for the young men in their circle of influence. Father figures use their presence to model positive behavior for the young men in their sphere. These men take their roles as mentors seriously. Father figures willingly help prepare the next generation to be better fathers. As men, we all have this responsibility, and we should always strive to be a positive influence.

My father passed away 19 years ago, but there is hardly a day that goes by that I don’t think about him. Every day, I see more of him in me. I still have his rugged looks, and I am a better man because of his example of hard work. I am now handy with my hands, and have learned to say what I mean and I mean what I say. Today, it is no longer a question of wanting to be more like my father as it is to ensure that my son wants to be more like me.  Because I now have sons and grandsons to model good behavior, for I pray daily that I can be the “big man” in their lives.

Timothy Houston is an author, minister and motivational speaker committed to guiding positive life changes in families and communities.  For questions, comments or more information, go to www.tlhouston.com or email at tim@tlhouston.com.

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