Sunday, June 19, 2011

An Ideal Father

I’ll save remembrances of my own father for another time. This Father’s Day I’d like to honor my husband, Paul, who became step-father to my daughters when they were 8 and 11. He had custody of his own children, too, who were then 6 and 10.

I could write the true declarations of how fair he was and is with them, how he loves and treats them like his own, how he has been an example to them of how a husband should treat his wife, but those are “tip of the iceberg” things. Instead I’m going to focus on four personality traits that he exhibits to the max: he is patient, attentive, understanding and loving.

There is no man more patient than he is. It’s that kind of patience that one cannot develop consciously. He just has it, along with an unsuppressed sigh signaling that he’s in control. He can drive a step-daughter ten hours round trip to a renown clinic, sit in a waiting room alone all day or be on-call ten days straight in a strange city having nothing to do to kill time. I’ve seen patience when dealing with our kids’ disobedience, their misfortunes and their repeated transgressions. I thank God for Paul’s patience.

Attentive? Yes! As a husband he is the most attentive spouse out there, but he displays this quality as a father, too. Are men attentive to their children? Do they know when they’re feeling the less obvious emotions or the subtle ones or the ones a child tries to hide? Paul does, he pays attention and then he does something about it. I thank God for Paul’s attentiveness.

That brings me to his trait of understanding. That same sixth sense he has for detecting our children’s feelings includes his knack for being understanding. I guess it goes hand in hand with compassion and empathy, two other qualities he has that I love about him. I thank God for Paul’s understanding nature.

It’s not hard to puzzle out that I would end with love. Paul is patient, attentive, understanding and loving. See the pattern? How does a father (step-father) show love? Paul is always uncomplaining, caring and sympathetic with the kids. He is enduring, conscientious, kind and accepting. He is generous. I’ve never heard him yell at them, belittle them or criticize them negatively. He is loving and he shows that love. Thank you, God, for this wonderful man who has been the ideal father.