Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be delightful days. Days of cards, flowers and presents to thank our parents for their love or to be thanked for being a parent. For the childless, the fatherless, motherless or the abused, these are not happy days.
My husband, Grit, and I became aware of some of these problems when we spent more than 15 years working with young single adults, those 18 to 30 years old. Some of these young people had physical and mental abuse in their histories. Away from home and now living on their own, they were able to confide and ask for help. We soon learned, in the young single adult ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to tone down those parental honoring days.
A father or a mother has great impact on the future of a child. If a parent mistreats their child physically or mentally, it may create a cycle of abuse where there is a need for counseling, nurturing or other support to become healthy adults. A person who desires to learn how to treat a spouse and family right can get help and advice and shouldn’t feel embarrassed about something that wasn’t the person's fault.
On the other hand, good mothers and fathers deserve a day to be celebrated. The sacrifice of time, energy and resources deserves to be mentioned and honored. Observing good parenting can provide a pattern and example to follow for those who were not parented well.
I saw an excellent list of "10 Ways to be an All Pro Dad" on the back of a gray T-shirt in a picture posted on Facebook. The statements are fleshed out on allprodad.com. Here's the list from the T-shirt:
10 Ways to be a All Pro Dad
1. Love your wife
2. Spend time with your kids
3. Be a role model
4. Understand and enjoy your children
5. Show affection
6. Secure your family’s financial future
7. Eat together as a family
8. Discipline with a gentle spirit
9. Pray and worship together
10. Realize you’re a father forever
Being able to give back to our parents can be one of the more rewarding times in our lives.
My neighbor, Joseph Grenny, shared a picture of his father being fitted for a suit and the story behind it with me saying, “My father is a very practical man. He worked hard to raise us and provide for our family. Not once do I remember him indulging in anything for himself.
"I took him to buy a custom tailored suit. He was his normal 'whatever' self about it until he saw how it looked on him. Then in his quiet way he seemed to think it might be nice. When the salesman asked, 'How about a vest?' — he looked over at me as though he might actually care. We got the vest.
"My father never needed a nice suit to be a remarkable man. But it was one of the sweetest moments of my life to see him clothed in a way that recognizes the fine man he is.”
The love of a son to his father.
It doesn’t need to be something expensive, this appreciation thank you. Most of us have tucked away some handmade token of a child’s love for us to take out and look at and remember.
Really for a parent, just a hug will do. The same can work for their child. To be loved and appreciated by people you belong to is just about the very best feeling in the world. To live with abuse or without positive validation is just about the worst.
Whether we had parents who did their jobs well or not, each person has a choice about the kind of parent they want to be. No parent is ever perfect — but we can find the joy that comes with trying.