Yesterday was a delightful father's day. I heard kind wishes from all my children and was treated to lovely meals and gifts. And I had a chance to think about my own dad who died a few years ago.
As I think about my dad, I try to imagine what he would want from me. Especially at the end of his life, gifts had little meaning. He was aging, and spent his last years in a nursing home where he had little room for things, and his aging mind, sadly, also had little room for things, either.
As I thought about honoring him, I've concluded that what I can continue to offer him is what I hope my children will continue to offer me: the honor of good lives well lived with kindness and compassion toward others.
I've written before that some of my children are walking paths I would not have chosen for them. They have found more comfort outside the faith of their childhood than in it, and that makes me sad when I dwell on it, only because my feelings about that faith are so strong. But over time I'm happy to feel the ties that bind me to my children are stronger than those of disappointment. Because even in their separate paths they are honorable and honest. They are kind and generous – toward one another and toward others. They are loyal friends and ready to lend a helping hand where they can.
I had a brief conversation with one of my sons (an ongoing philosophical conversation) about what constitutes a family, and about the need for the marriage covenant. He has many friends who come from single parent homes, and does not want to dishonor them by suggesting that the home of their origin is something less than his where his parents were (and still are!) married.
This is my son who has always loved to spar with me; when he was thirteen I could not say it was light outside without his disagreeing. So I know better than to try to convince him. He is right, of course: his friends do come from families, many of them very loving and good, even if they are not traditional.
But I still maintain that the model has not changed: a married father and mother working together to provide for, protect and nurture the children that come to their home. That other solutions also have worked does not negate the value of the basic model. That not all "traditional" families work also does not negate the value of the ideal.
The Family: A Proclamation to the World teaches the model. Divine scripture teaches the model. And wise people do their best to emulate the model.
What this father wants? What my father wanted: for my children to be happy, successful, and safe in families of their own one day.