When I was a little girl, I remember my dad taking me into the deep end of the lake at Black Rock State Park to teach me how to tread water. I had no desire to learn this skill, yet naively wishing to be in the deep end with the big kids. My Father, concerned for my safety, decided it was about time I learned how to tread water in case I did foolishly venture too far out.
He confidently carried me out into the cold deep waters of the lake holding my little hands. At first, I felt very excited and secure in his deep, dark, giant like hands. But before long, that feeling was overshadowed by the deep dark emptiness below my feet. I began to feel small, fearful, and much less secure. My Dad, proceeded to teach me how to make circular motions with my legs and arms. He told me I must calmly and consistently stay moving, which I did obediently.
After a little while, and just as I forgot my troubles, he abruptly let go of my hands.
He let me go!
He didn’t ask if I was ready, if I was practiced enough, or if I felt comfortable.
He simply let go!
I was panicked, fearful, and desperate for him to take my hands again. “Daddy! Dad! Dad! Daddy! Help!
Please, Dad, help! I’m gonna drown! I can’t, I can’t! Please! Help!”.
But my Dad didn’t “help”.
Instead, my dad watched me panic and cry. My dad watched me panic and cry, while I kept my head above water. My dad watched me panic and cry, while I successfully tread water. My dad watched me panic and cry, to teach me how to survive, how to win, and how to beat my fears. My Dad, was a “Deep End Dad”, and I thank him for it.
Even still, I know quite a few souls, who have mixed emotions about this day, including myself. That is why I’d like to start it off with this very sobering question. The question being:
Deep End Dad or Dead Beat Dad?
Which one are you? which one do you relate to? Which one did you have?
Allow me to further dispose and even juxtapose the two.
These categories are meant to define theoretical places on a theoretical fatherhood spectrum. I am not an expert or a father. I am but a wife, a mother, and a daughter. Therefore, I can admit that my understanding is limited, but hear me out.
Growing up in one of the largest cities in Connecticut to a single mother, and surrounded by many more single mothers, I have heard the term “Dead Beat Dad” on more occasions than I can count. This term was always the ultimate insult. To this day it has to be one of the harshest verdicts that a father can receive. Unfortunately it is more often than not, a distinction much deserved by the recipient.
Dead Beat Dad is defined in the Urban Dictionary in many colorful ways, but I’ll use no. 5 and no. 7.
No. 5. “A male who fathers a child and makes no contributions to its rearing, providing neither emotional nor financial help to his family. Often unmarried to the child’s mother or divorced, usually resented by the offspring.”
No. 7. “A loser father who is almost never around, flaky, and breaks promises, usually made to the kids.”
Well, Yikes! That pretty much says it all.
I am not saying that this guy (whoever he may be) is not a good guy, that he isn’t handsome, doesn’t have a good job, or a high IQ. What I am trying to explain is that in the category of fatherhood, he is missing the mark.
Are you one of these guys? Did you have a dad like this?
Now, let’s take a look at what I have described in one of my many memories with my dad, as a Deep end Dad.
Again, please don’t misconstrue the “Deep End Dads” as six figure making, trust fund providing, model citizens with glasses and a tie pin. Don’t assume they are back yard, ball throwing, camping, or tree hugging dads.
Actually, in either category of Dad, there is no type. There is no look, no job, no economic status.
In fact, I believe the only determining factor that can distinguish the “Deep end Dad” from the “Dead Beat Dad” is their applied intention. Their applied attention to rear and to raise. Their applied attention to impart love, wisdom, and experience to the child they were entrusted with.
Intention and application.
Intention and Attention.
Intention not Perfection…
This Fathers’ Day, I pray that we would all be reminded that our fathers are not perfect, but they do dearly love us. I pray that we would be reminded that there is always hope for change, and that fathers would be humble and brave enough to try again and again.
Most importantly, I pray, that regardless of the earthy father that you have or have had; that we would know that we currently have a Heavenly Father, who is perfect. That there is no one truly good but him. That he never changes. That his promises are YES and AMEN. That he loves you…Oh, how he loves you. That He loves you perfectly and he wants to take you deeper and deeper into the water of his word.
You can trust him. He does not want to drown you there, but instead wants to drown out the fear that chains you.
He’s a good, good father.
Listen to this song if you have time. https://youtu.be/NjEYtaD-Ywg