instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, June 18, 2012

Children's Day

As a father, I'd just as soon not bother with Father's Day.

No, that's not quite right.

Personally, I'd just as soon not bother with Father's Day. As a father, I have to bother with it, because my family wants me to.

They want me to tell them what I want to eat (as long as it's something everyone else wants to eat, too), and have me open presents (which aren't what I said I wanted*), and be reminded that I can do whatever I want because it's Father's Day (that privilege, apparently, being a once-a-year boon granted by proclamation of the President).

Father's Day, in my experience, is about the wife and children doing whatever they want to do for the husband and father. It isn't really about the father.

And that's as it should be, because being a father isn't really about the father. It's about raising and sustaining the people a father is given to raise and sustain, to help them become as whole and complete and perfect as they are capable of becoming. With respect to the daily death to self fatherhood requires, Father's Day merely emphasizes the conforming of your desires to whatever your family thinks you desire.

That may sound too passive, but to be whole and complete and perfect, children need to be able to perform acts of love for their father. A father should, I think, desire that his children perform those acts of love more for their own sake than for his. (And, as a practical matter, if a particular meal or gift is important enough to him, he's got plenty of time to make his desires known.)

This is, of course, right in line with what we believe about our worship of God. The only thing God gets out of our worship is us. He desires mercy, not sacrifice, because mercy is a fruit of wholeness, completeness, and perfection.

I, on the other hand, not being perfect as my Father in heaven is perfect, do get more out of letting my family do what they want to do for me on Father's Day. I get a lesson in desiring acts of love, out of love for my family.

* This year I said I wanted a straw hat and a blowgun. My wife replied, "Why do you want a straw hat?"