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Ways to Honor Lost Fathers

With Father's Day approaching, it's a good time to reflect on a father's wisdom

This is the time of year when I reflect a lot about my father and his influence on my life. I also think about all those who were not as lucky as I was to have had such an amazing role model. Recently, I’ve read some articles and statistics that have saddened me regarding the crisis of fatherhood. In the Psychology Today article by Ray Williams, he discusses the dangers of our becoming a fatherless society. Supposedly, this has not been a sudden shift, but one that probably began in the Industrial Revolution. In many ways, it’s also connected to the feminist movement and women taking on more powerful leadership roles, both domestically and professionally.

According to a study in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Education, when fathers are involved in their children’s lives, they learn more, perform better in school and exhibit healthier behavior.

To help bridge the gap, there are many organizations who guide fathers or father role models. The National Center on Fathering has an eBook called, Father’s Day Survival Kit, which makes a good Father’s Day gift. According to this organization, nearly 20 million children live in a home without the physical presence of a father. Then, there are fathers who are physically present, but unable to be emotionally present. This center believes that fatherlessness is a national emergency that needs to be examined and studied.

Many of us don’t have to look far outside of our own little circle to see fatherless families. The statistics are jarring. Sadly, 63% of youth are from fatherless homes. There are those whose fathers are alive but have taken another path, there are those who are simply absent from the everyday lives of their children, and there are others who are deceased but not forgotten.

In addition to learning proper behaviors by watching our fathers, there are certain verbal wisdoms shared by fathers on a regular basis. Once in a while, it’s a good idea to stop and reflect on those wisdoms and how they influenced us and molded us as adults. This might also be a good writing exercise for both therapist and client. It simply serves as a good reminder to us all of the important role of fathers in our lives, and all the wisdom we learn from them.

My father was a Holocaust survivor and here are some words of wisdom he taught me:

  • Live and let live
  • Treat others like you want to be treated yourself
  • Aim for the sky. There is no limit
  • Smother mean people with love
  • Look at the glass half full
  • Laughter is the best medicine
  • Respect yourself first
  • Put everything you have into what you are doing. Work hard, play hard
  • What you do is more important than what you say
  • Keep your eye on the ball (literally and metaphorically)
  • Everything in moderation
  • When lifting something heavy, lift with your legs and not your back
  • If you have your health, you have just about everything
  • Don't burn bridges that you may have to cross again
  • Don’t worry. Everything has a way of working out in the end

For those of us who have lost our fathers, Father’s Day can be a sad day. Here are some suggestions on how to turn a negative into a positive:

  • Prepare your father’s favorite meal
  • Write a letter to your father
  • Write thoughts about your father in your journal
  • Write a poem or an ode to your father
  • Visit your dad wherever he is at rest
  • Plant a tree or a bush in honor of your dad
  • Pull out the family album to look at some photos
  • Visit or call someone else who also lost their father and exchange stories
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