Watching television, you could get the impression that Dads are bumbling morons that are regularly outsmarted by their wives and children. If a TV Dad does manage, once in a blue moon, to get something right, it is usually by accident. By the end of the show, if Dad is lucky, his stupidity becomes endearing.
Is there really a correlation between television and real life?. Well, maybe. Bill Cosby did reflect a lot of families when he said that a Dad spends his time asking his kids, “Where is your mother?” All kids have a favorite story of Dad injuring himself in an amusing way during a camping trip, or snicker at Dad’s favorite shirt. But, deep down, do kids know that their father works hard and has a lot on his plate, and forgive him his absent-mindedness?
There is the other dad-less genre of show where the old man is dead or absent due to divorce or desertion. The mother raises strong, wise-cracking kids that have inherited the mother’s wisdom and native smarts. They are really better off without a dad who is too dumb to keep his pants on, or too self-involved to care about his family. Is it really true that Dads have been reduced to either a cartoon caricature or a worthless bum? In other words, are Dads still important?
The answer to that question is yes. For one thing, without a Dad, we wouldn’t be here. Truth be told, though, in this day and age, there are a lot of men who look upon themselves as not much more than a maker of babies. The important Dads of this world stick around longer than that. Sometimes they might wish they’d made a getaway, but that’s only during bill-paying and potty training. The importance of Dads is that they are there through the tough times. That’s what gives them the right to embarrass their kids at graduations and weddings.
Dads can be very embarrassing, it’s true, especially when they are in motion. A Dad trying to do the latest dance, or trying to catch a fly ball at the family picnic, can embarrass a teenager down to their toenails. Not so long ago, though, when those teens were small, Dads were the funniest guys around. He knew just how to make an owie feel better or bad dreams go away just by dancing his special little dance. How else did Mom get all those strained peas into the babies to make them grow so big and strong? Dad’s funny face, that’s how.
Even before they can remember, Dad was willing to play the clown for the good of his kids. Just because he does it now, without knowing, is no reason to think Dads aren’t as important as before! However, there is a time when Dad is very, very important, even now. That’s when it’s time for allowance.
Dads can be a bit Scrooge-like when it’s time to open the wallet and dish out the pocket money, it’s true. What the kids don’t know is the real Scrooge Dad works for. Maybe that explains the god-awful ties Dad wears; at work, you have to take your laughs where you can get them. Try smiling at Dad’s boss all week and the kids might understand why he’s grumpy with the money.
But all the while Dads are being funny, embarrassing, and Scroogey, they are being very, very important. Dads hang out with their sons and teach them, by word and example, how to become good men. They teach them to tell the truth and stand up for what’s right. Dads teach their sons to open the door for Moms when she has bags of groceries in both arms. Really good Dads teach their sons to put down the toilet seat.
Dads hang out with their daughters and teach them important stuff as well, like how smart and beautiful they really are. They let their daughters stand on their feet and teach them to foxtrot. They teach them not to hit their brothers in the crotch. Really good Dads teach their daughters there’s nothing they can’t do.
When you get down to it, that’s the real importance of Dad. He’s there.