Once a father, always a father

A father’s level of involvement has lasting effects

Enid Reyes

ROCKWALL, TX (June 5, 2014) A young man said to his mother one day, “Mom, I am not more manly because you didn’t read Wild at Heart by John Eldredge.”  He continued to explain what his take on Eldredge’s book was: he was born to be a hero, a warrior and to live life dangerously. The perplexed mom lovingly replied, “Honey, I am not a man. I have done the best I can.”

According to the US Census Bureau, 24 million children in America live in biological father-absent homes—one out of three children in America. On the other hand, fathers can be present but absent in many ways. Fathers who have been present in the life of their children should be commended and challenge to influence and mentor others.

The National Fatherhood Initiative (fatherhood.org) provides much data from research done on the positive impact of father involvement and the negative impact in children when the father is absent. These effects include poverty, maternal and child health, incarceration, crime, teen pregnancy, child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, education, and childhood obesity.

You see, this young man had a great father, a hero. As years went by, his father’s drive for success began to create a distance between father and son. Soon, the great father became the greatest stranger as he chose to move on to “greener pastures” (so he thought). “Dad was no longer at my games, never met my dates, did not teach me to change the tire of my car, no birthday cards and the list goes on.”  Wow! I was hearing, first-hand, the pain this young man carried and the longing he had for the relationship he once lost. It broke my heart.

Those of us who are optimistic hope this young man’s story is an exception in our society. But it is not. In my couples’ coaching, I have spoken to many fathers who are filled with regret due absence and mistakes. Yet, just like the trim tab (a very small rudder attached to a larger one) can change or determine the course of a cruise ship; likewise fathers can begin to make small changes that can have a long lasting impact. If you have no children, you can always be a role model or a mentor.

The young man, now an adult, has reconciled with his father. The scars are somewhat visible; they serve as reminders to be present in his son’s life.

Be involved. Here are some tips:

  • Respect the mother of your children
  • Be a teacher
  • Eat meals together as a family (even if its once a week)
  • Listen to your children (turn off the phone and TV)
  • Read to your children
  • Discipline your children with love
  • Show affection—kiss them goodnight
  • Be a role model
  • Be involve with their academics
  • Realize that once a father, always a father

Blue Ribbon News special contributor Enid Reyes is a Certified Relationship Skills Facilitator, founder of Rockwall Grace Center for Family & Community Development and a local minister. Contact Enid at enidmariereyes@gmail.com.

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