I’m just about the happiest woman in the whole world and here’s why. I had two amazing daddies who adored me, were beautiful inside and out and helped make me the woman I am today. Very few days pass without them or their lessons coming to mind–they were gentle but strong, confident but humble, kind, great providers, heart from head to foot and they lived out their faith. I have never been hungry or had to wonder where my next meal or provisions would come from—please know I’m not bragging, I’m simply praising God for creating these heroes and putting them in my life.
Carey Bowles, my great-uncle who helped raise me, had a third grade education but could outfigure me in his head any day. His beautiful brown eyes danced when he laughed and he taught me to always pay attention because “everything you need to know won’t be in a book” he’d say. He gave almost everyone some kind of wacky nickname and loved his siblings and friends unconditionally. He and his best friend, Davis “Buster/Farmer” Brown often played checkers and would cut up so my great-aunt threatened to send Mr. Buster home!
My dad-dad, John A. “Big John” Bond, was about 6’4 and had hands like two baseball gloves it seemed. My sister and I were laughing last month when one of my brothers had to give Dad’s “I was a little boy once” talk with his daughter. He was always bigger than life so we couldn’t imagine him ever being little or having a clue about what boys do. He was usually right about the “little boys” and their motives.
He insisted we do our own thinking instead of following blindly. He made sure we always had money in our pockets so we wouldn’t be “standing ‘round looking stupid.” He and my mother had great expectations for us and the eight of us worked to make them proud. He loved words and said he could work with anyone as long as he was the boss!
Research shows that women who have great fathers often try to find their fathers in the men they marry. It’s true. My husband is a magical combination of both of them. Today much of what we hear about fatherhood is negative but today’s fathers can be great too and here’s how we can help:
- Don’t believe the hype: WOMEN CAN TEACH BOYS HOW TO BE MEN but they shouldn’t have to do it by themselves. It does take a village and the responsible, positive male villagers, no matter their age, must invest in, mentor, coach and model good behavior.
- Remind your sons, grandsons, brothers, etc., to cultivate and nurture the seeds they plant. Don’t even fix your mouth to say “I’m glad I don’t have girls” because every time a young woman has an unplanned pregnancy, like Shake and Bake, somebody helped (do the paternity tests early if you’re unsure!). Providing for children’s physical needs is certainly important but making certain children feel wanted, safe and cared for ranks right there at the top too. We must define the difference between the quantity/quality of time—it’s critical to be “there” when you’re “there.”
- Encourage and praise the good traits you see in the fathers you know. They may just be doing what they’re supposed to do but we all like praise, especially when it’s for something this important. Have events to provide parenting advice, resources or respite for those who are struggling or juggling work/life balance issues. Teach the lessons you’ve learned without being preachy.