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A child’s only dad

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By Mark Azzara

Dear Friend,

I could make a habit out of reporting the conversations I have with fellow members of our church’s weekly men’s group because I hear so much good stuff. But last week’s meeting was particularly instructive.

For me it centered around one young father’s statement, “I’m the only father my son will ever have.”

I was stunned by that statement – not because it’s true, since it obviously is – but because of his perception of what fatherhood is. He is his son’s ONLY dad. Translation: He knows he has to get this right because there is no fall-back position, nor anyone to jump in and rescue his son if dad messes up that job.

I wonder how children would benefit if every father were to think about his parental role in this way. What if every dad were to think: I cannot fail because my son will suffer the consequences. I am responsible for what I do. I cannot blame anyone else. There is no one to take the buck when I want to pass it.

There are no do-overs. When words have been spoken, when actions have been taken, they can’t be retracted. Every word, every action, is important because they all have consequences, good or bad.

My friend, whose son is only a year old, isn’t thinking egotistically about his role. He’s a little unnerved, a little bit scared, and that’s a good thing because it means he will pay attention when he has the chance to learn how to hone his craft as a dad. He will listen to men who have been there, but he also will pay attention to God.

Fatherhood is a great excuse for prayer because we can approach the Father of all fathers, the only one who is truly good, the only one who can forgive our mistakes and thus teach us how to forgive our children when they mess up, the only one who can encourage when we want to criticize. That’s because God knows he’s the father my friend and I still need.

I’m way past the time when I was a dad to three little girls. My friend is just starting to walk down that road. But we still are both young children in the eyes of our heavenly father. And despite being “adults” we still need to let him be our dad, for our sake and the sake of all those we influence, no matter how young or old.

All God’s blessings – Mark

Mark Azzara

About Mark Azzara

Mark Azzara spent 45 years in print journalism, most of them with the Waterbury Republican in Connecticut, where he was a features writer with a special focus on religion at the time of his retirement. He also worked for newspapers in New Haven and Danbury, Conn. At the latter paper, while sports editor, he won a national first-place writing award on college baseball. Azzara also has served as the only admissions recruiter for a small Catholic college in Connecticut and wrote a self-published book on spirituality, "And So Are You." He is active in his church and a non-denominational prayer community and facilitates two Christian study groups for men. Azzara grew up in southern California, graduating from Cal Sate Los Angeles. He holds a master's degree from the University of Connecticut.

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  • Tom Schmidt

    So right, Mark. You’re focusing on what to do, not on what is bad. The only successful classes on parenting do the same, and research is proving and has proven that fathering is just as important as mothering, especially in closeness and time. Wish courts and attorneys would understand that. Young women tend not to learn deep morality if the father does not teach it, mainly by example. Both children tend to lag behind without understanding empathy without him there. Good fathering is good not just for parenting. It helps out in any interpersonal relationship. And it helps out in prisons. If father in jail or prison can maintain contact, and , when safe, learn through parenting practice good parenting, recidivism rates plunge, as does bad behavior on the block. Most other prisoners support another’s parenting.
    Google Fathering and follow the leads. Try Fathering, Attachment. If you are interested I’ll dig up some references.
    Have and give a good life, Tom

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