A good father is one of the most unsung, unappreciated, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society. – Billy Graham
As human beings, we are habitual to defining things by certain criteria. For instance, fatherhood is always associated with certain duties or moments such as – teaching a child to ride a bike or helping a toddler walk. Our cliché understanding of relationships has been a major obstacle in experiencing them to their fullest. Similarly, our understanding of fatherhood must not be as to what qualities make a good father rather – ‘Who is a father?’ Is this a title that is imperatively just biological or does it transcend all the societal norms that define this relationship?
Theoretically speaking, we assume that our biological male parent would be fulfilling the duties of what entails fatherhood. But isn’t this a limited understanding of a relationship that is so vast and bountiful? Innumerable tales through history have defined fatherhood beyond biology. If we look around, this role has been fulfilled for eons by single mothers, elder siblings, grandparents, a favourite relative, or just a neighbour who made us feel safe and protected consistently, throughout our lives. This does not in any way mean that anyone can be a father but it does take someone extraordinary to fulfill the duties of fatherhood.
Like all roles, being a father is not about being perfect or right. It is more about providing a safe space, showing up, and putting the welfare of the child first. As warm and fuzzy as fatherhood is, it is equally challenging, exhausting, and demanding. When we celebrate an entire day dedicated to this relationship every year on the third Sunday of June, it goes beyond simply celebrating fathers. It is to celebrate every single person who has stepped up and embraced the perks and duties of fatherhood irrespective of a biological angle. A day isn’t enough to celebrate the sacrifice and unconditional dedication of this role. Yet, it is a reminder that fatherhood is not just about a role or a title but a feeling and an emotion that has the power to shape or break a person. It is like a shield that protects you from the worst or like a cup of hot coffee on a rainy day. Fatherhood is all things that make a child feel comfortable and strong enough to be anything that they want to be.
It is time we understand that no relationship can be limited to or be defined by biology. Biology most certainly makes things easy to understand but the ground rules remain the same. We as a society must stop stereotyping roles to evolve in the truest sense. Be it any relationship we must be equally accepting and loving to receive the same. As for fatherhood, E.E. Cummings has aptly described this in his poem – My Father moved through dooms of Love. Here’s an excerpt from this wonderful poem that defines all that fatherhood stands for:
‘And nothing quite so least as truth
— I say though hate were why men breathe —
Because my Father lived his soul
Love is the whole and more than all.’