Sunday June 16, 2013 is Father’s Day. Celebrating Father’s Day I believe should be as preeminent as Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, fathers are portrayed as buffoons (Family Guy, Simpsons) in the media. The Census Bureau reports “24 million children live in biological father absent homes.” Fatherhood has become a negative statistic. Therefore, I want to take a few moments to celebrate Fathers. I want to celebrate the men who work tirelessly to provide for their children. There are men in our nation who choose to strengthen their backs and carry their children to new opportunities. These fathers live in homeless shelters, middle class suburbia and high end apartments. These are the fathers that pour over the Scriptures for the wisdom to teach their children and shape them as effective arrows sent toward their target of opportunity. These are the fathers who fight for custody, serve as foster parents and adopt the outcast. These fathers are all around us.
I am the proud father of three great children. My fifteen year journey is characterized by the distinct elements; the Christian Gospel, African American heritage and legacy. Fathers influence their children with a view of the world and people. Fathers implicitly and explicitly teach their children to take pride in their heritage. Fathers possess the dream to have some aspect of their life replicated in the life of their children.
The Christian Gospel
Nicollus, Najee’ and Nichelle are instrumental in my spiritual formation. My children are used in very specific ways, unbeknownst to themselves; to remind me of the great love my Father has for me. I purpose to move heaven and earth in order to see what they need most is present in their lives. My children rejoice in their unique ways when we have daddy-son or daddy-daughter moments. These are precious times which remind me that God has placed his very specific love on me and he works for my good. At the same time, God loves to discipline me, and his discipline is the sweet and uncomfortable reminder that I am his son. My children require discipline. Discipline carried out in the context of love and grace communicates to my children that I love them and I want them to conduct their lives in a manner that reflects that each of them are children of God and a child of the Fletchers.
African American Heritage
The African American skin is powerful and beautiful. The hair texture is unique. Our history contains great moments of triumph and shameful moments that have shown the worst of our humanity. These statements like many others can be made of any ethnic group in America. I want to take a moment to celebrate the African American fathers who are holding it down. I communicate to my first born son; he will not be a statistic. African American men are defined by stats (absent fathers, prison, uneducated, out of wedlock pregnancies, etc.) more than the contributions they have made in America. My son, as well as my daughters understand each of them is capable of accomplishing great feats now and in the future. Our heritage is celebrated but it will not be used as an excuse for not taking risks. I will admit as a father, the stereotypes of African American fathers play a role in my instruction. The banner I wave over my children is, “We will be the rule and not the exception.” Fathers, inspire your children. Speak into their souls, God has created each of them to accomplish great things for the glory of his name and your joy.
I firmly believe that children should exceed the successes of their parents. Our children stand on our shoulders and we as fathers, are the strong foundation for our children to reach higher heights. This means fathers that you will have to develop yourself. You will have to increase your capacity to lead, love and learn. You will have to give your children a steady foundation of a bachelor degree so they can pursue a master’s degree. You will have to become a good steward of your finances so they can take what you leave them and multiply those dollars. Leave them a legacy that is passed on to your grand-children and great-grand-children.
Fathers, I salute you! The father who is celebrating his first Father’s Day, prepare for the awesome journey of shaping a life. The father who is celebrating a Father’s Day with teenagers, I feel you! The father who is celebrating a Father’s Day with grand-children, rejoice in the legacy that is being passed on to a new generation.