11 April 2013
Fathers and Fools
There is an old saying that unfortunately I hear all too often, “Any fool can have a child but it takes a real man to be a father.” There are several variations of this saying and I have heard them many times, from many different people. The wording always seems to vary slightly with each person who says it. Regardless of how they might be worded, they all deliver the same message. Basically, it means that it is easy for a man to do his part in the conception of a child but there are many responsibilities that come with actually raising that child. If he is not man enough to take care of those responsibilities then he does not deserve to be called a father. Unfortunately for the children there are far too many fools out there who are more than willing to do the easy part and not enough real men who are willing to do everything else that comes with being a father.
If you look up the word father in a dictionary, you will most likely find a definition that is very similar to one of these two: “a man who has begotten a child” (Merriam-Webster) or “a male person whose sperm unites with an egg, resulting in the conception of a child” (TheFreeDictionary). According to these definitions, any fool who has a child, regardless of what he may or may not do to help raise that child, is considered to be a father. However a real man, who steps up and raises a child who is not his biologically, is not considered a father. I would have to disagree with these definitions and I know many other people do as well. In my opinion, they don’t even come close to defining a father. They would be great for defining a sperm donor or impregnator, but a father is so much more than that.
I would go well beyond any dictionary to define what I consider a father to be. Obviously, my definition would give a more in depth description of what I believe a real father is. However, even if I felt my definition was perfect, it would most likely be debated by someone who would define it a bit differently. Everyone has their own feelings, ideas, and opinions on what a father is or should be. This might be based on their experiences with their own father, how they are as a father themselves, or maybe even how a television show depicts a father. There are many reasons why people will have differing opinions, but even though we all may have a slightly different definition of what it means to be a father, I would imagine most would at least agree with me that it takes a hell of a lot more to be a father than simply being a man and having a child. Even President Obama once said during a speech on Father’s Day in 2008, “Any fool can have a child. That doesn't make you a father. It's the courage to raise a child that makes you a father” (Dyson). I could not agree more. It definitely takes a lot of courage because it is a huge responsibility and can be very challenging at times, but if these fools would just try to muster up that courage, they would realize that it’s also the most rewarding thing they will ever do. These fools who don’t have the courage to do what they should to raise a child are missing out on an amazing lifelong experience.
There are many different studies that show how the biological fathers’ choices and behaviors can affect their children. For instance, according to the Journal of Research on Adolescence, one study on how an absent father impacts a child’s odds for incarceration showed "Youths who never had a father in the household experienced the highest odds" (Harper). Although this is rather disturbing, in some cases the children might be better off with their biological fathers completely out of the picture. It would obviously be more detrimental to a child’s well-being to have a father who abuses them, whether it is physically, sexually, or emotionally. Aside from...