Every time I watch this clip of Will Smith talking about his father in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, I tear up. I can’t help it. Little do many people know, towards the end of this clip, Will starts talking about his actual father. The moment he starts to cry, Uncle Phil, played by the late actor James Avery, embraces him with a father’s embrace–something Will may have never experienced before. It was unscripted. It was real life.
I wonder how many people can relate to Will’s story? Can you?
According to an old study by the US Department of Census, 43% children in the United States live without their father.
That number should make you sick. Forty-three percent means for every two children you encounter, one of those has no father. No father to play catch with. No father to say, “I’m proud of you.” No father to go on “daddy-daughter” dates. No father at his or her sporting events. No father to go baseball games with. No father at career day. No father to drop off little Billy or little Susie for their first day of school. No father to simply say, “I love you.”
It’s time to man up, men.
If you’re a father, or will be a father one day, it’s time to get your crap together. It’s time to start being present.
This generation is desperately in need of good father figures. They want someone to look up to. They long for the affection, acceptance, love, and approval that only a father can bring.
What does this mean for those who aren’t fathers yet? It means you can “practice” being a father with your siblings, younger cousins, students in your youth group, young people in a community outreach program, etc. Start by showing them you care. Tell them you’re proud of them. Honor them. Be present with them. Believe in them. Love them. Take time to get to know them. I truly believe this will translate over well into your own fathering experience when you have children of your own.
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could ever another person, he believed in me.” – Jim Valvano
To become an even better father, remember the things your own Dad did that made you feel insignificant. Remember the times where he could have shown you more love. Remember the times when he wasn’t there. Remember the hurt that he caused.
This sounds painful, right? Because it is.
In remembering all the wrongdoings of your own father, this should allow you an opportunity to do things differently. It should allow you an opportunity to love your own child better than you were loved. It should allow you an opportunity to be ten times the father your own father ever was to you.
“It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.” – Pope John XXIII
What are some things men could do differently as fathers? What are some things your father could have done differently? Please share with me in the comments below.