We all like to belong. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, old or young, rich or poor. Skin color doesn’t matter. Nationality doesn’t matter. Political ideals are inconsequential. Every single one of us wants to fit in. For boys and men, we want a brotherhood.
We loved being part of a team or a troop or neighborhood “gang” of tousle-headed youngsters playing cowboys and soldier. We felt comfort in the fact that our comrades had our backs in times of threat and danger. Our smiles were ever-present when our friends showed up to load the moving truck or rebuild the fence.
We’ve aligned ourselves around service to country and community. We sport team colors and have gone to extreme lengths to make sure we’re together in the “sacred moments of the game.”
We’ve consoled each other in times of loss.
Yet, for all of these moments, I hope that we will invest in yet another, vastly important, brotherhood — the brotherhood of fatherhood.
I hope and pray this will be a goal of my young friends who have little ones and even teenagers still at home. But I also want this for the older dads — like me — with grown kids and even grandchildren who gather at their knees.
As fathers, we need the support and the encouragement of other fathers. They will recharge us, encourage us, instruct us, and even provide us with a swift kick when we need one.
Being a good father is hard work. It is easy to lose sight of the goal and look only to the daily physical needs. We miss the self-focused days of old when everyone around us encouraged us to push forward as individuals. Now, we must push forward holding hands with our progeny, guiding them or dragging them toward their own futures.
We need others in similar situations to shout out encouragement or to sit close by in times of struggle. We need others who can see from our unique place.
A good number of us remain in awe of our own fathers. We were blessed. They encouraged us, sometimes purposefully and sometimes by sheer accident, to be good fathers. Now, that image needs to supplemented and fortified by other fathers who want us and our children to be all they can be.
We need a brotherhood of fatherhood.