In my home, it happens almost every day! Perhaps, it is because I have 4 teenagers and one young adult still at home! Maybe it is because we have been spending more time together every day! I am not sure, but it happens pretty much every day!
Someone makes fun of me or my clothes!
Last night, it was one of my sons making fun of my jean shorts! The night before, one of my daughters was poking my belly! A month or so ago, I made an appearance into my daughter’s school project with my dad shoes (I did not even know there was such a thing!). Seemingly every day, in some way or another, I am the brunt of jokes about my dad bod or my woefully inadequate sense of fashion and style.
Sometimes, even my wife joins in! Yesterday, I found one of my shirts hidden in a pile of things to be donated to the thrift store! I thought this was the stuff of cartoons and sit-coms, but apparently it is now my life! I think I am an embarrassment to my wife and kids because of how I look and how I dress.
But, I want my wife and kids to know something about this very unfashionable, out-of-touch, and woefully out-of-style husband and father. I am happy to be this way!
Now, please don’t get this wrong. The media’s portrayal of the clueless, slothful, and bumbling dad is absolutely exaggerated and downright insulting at times (What? We cannot trust a media portrayal??). While it may be true that some dads are deadbeat, I am convicted that there is something else at play for most dads here! There is a reason I am happy to be this way!
There is something in the literature about dad’s called “the burden of providing.” In short, this is a strong feeling of duty or obligation to provide and protect wife and children. This burden of providing has been found in almost every circumstance you may find a husband and father. It is found in young fathers with young children. It is found in aging fathers with empty nests. It is even found in husbands with a wife who earns more money than he does.
Most men have an innate sense of needing to provide for and protect their wife and children.
So, what does this look like?
For the average husband and father, it probably looks like going to whatever work he does every day, day-in-day-out, to earn a paycheck. For many, it is the extra hours that get added to each day or week, dedicated to working and earning. The burden of providing. For others, it can be seen in spending extra time in the garage, in the yard, or somewhere else in the house taking care of things and fixing things. The need to provide and protect. Finally, I think it may be evidenced in the dad who appears to have given up, pulled away, retreated into games, TV, and other distractions and diversions. It may be that these are the dads most overwhelmed with the feeling of this burden of providing.
Ask your husband or your father about this. You will likely hear them talk of the incredible weight they feel on their shoulders in providing for the family! If he trusts that you are really interested and listening, he may tell you of the incredible feelings of inadequacy he feels as he faces the task of providing every day! He may tell you how afraid he is every day of failing in this crucial undertaking. He may even tell you how come he sometimes gives up or seems to give up!
Fathers feel this incredible burden every waking hour and deep into the night! Fathers feel fear and worry and stress every day over the duty that is placed upon shoulders. And most days, they believe they are not strong enough to handle it! Fathers often seem overwhelmed and daunted by the task, because they believe they are!
Husbands and fathers struggle every day with this burden of providing. Every day!
The irony here is that most fathers love to do it! Most fathers derive great personal satisfaction out of providing and protecting wife and family! The very thing that causes dad to feel most inadequate and unprepared is the thing that gives him the most satisfaction! What an odd twist of things!
Dad says I love you most and best when he is working for you and the family!
So, like me, most dad’s take the jokes! Most dad’s laugh with you when you poke fun at his clothes or his growing middle section! Many dads are truly clueless about what is the latest fashion trend. Others lead out in the joking–if you can’t beat them, join them! We will laugh with you! Just know, that when the laughter fades away and dad is left to his own, he will think of why he still dons the ragged jean shorts, slips on the white Converse shoes, and pulls out the 1980’s T-shirt. He will likely pause for a moment and reflect on those jokes.
Then, like me, Dad will think of all the sacrifices he has made to provide for and protect you! He will see you in your new shoes, stylish clothes, and fancy bangles and be hit with a sense of pride. He may point out the new shelves he put in your closet again and again, surging with pleasure in doing something for you. He will surely be out of touch and out of style, but he will never be happier than when he knows he did it for you! Dad does not know what is in vogue, because he is more concerned with what he needs to do to provide for you! That is all he wants! He wishes you knew this about him.
So, the next time you see dad in his dark sandals, white socks, dad shorts, and fanny pack, go ahead and laugh a little. He will probably laugh with you! He may even make more fun of himself than you ever make fun of him. Then, lean in and give dad a big hug. While you are there, whisper a big thanks in his ear for all the seen and unseen things he does to provide for and protect you! It will make his day! It will make his week! It will make his life! When dad knows that you saw him provide for you, he will feel a bit stronger and more successful! He will work harder and better! Dad will become more of what you want him to be!
My father figure may always be a so-called “dad bod,” but you can bet behind all of those out of date clothes there is a dad who loves his wife and family more than I can express. If I tried, I would be overcome with tears and joy! I am never a better dad then when I am being poked fun at by my wife and kids!
So, go ahead and make fun of my dad bod and my clothes! I know you see me and my love for you!