"I'm a father. That's what matters most.
Nothing matters more."
Copyright © 2018
by Ralph F. Couey
I remember clearly the first time I held our first newborn. I was in awe at the power of life as it lay cradled in my arms, and feeling absolutely unqualified for the task that lay ahead. I remembered my Dad, and how easy he made fatherhood seem. He was always confident and resolute. Never once did I ever see him unsure of anything. His decisions were perfect, and he always had the right words and the correct solutions. He was a man of immense dignity and a commanding presence that was always in the house, even when he wasn't. I thought about all that as my new son stared up at me, and hoping that I would be to him at least a fraction of what my Dad was to me.
Fathers have a compelling influence on their children's lives. That's the way it's supposed to be. For a girl, if she does not get the attention, affection, and support from her father, she will later look for that in other men, in very destructive ways. Much of the confidence a young woman has will have been instilled by her father. And when she chooses a young man, chances are he will have some of her father in him. It is interesting to note that Robert E. Lee had three daughters, none of whom married. As one said much later, "None of them, in terms of character, courage, and inner strength came close to father."
Boys grow up (although some women would dispute that) and at some point, we become men. That moment of transition is different for all of us. For me, it wasn't graduating high school, leaving home to be on my own, or even getting married. In that moment in the presence of my infant son, for whose life I was now totally responsible, I realized that my childhood was over.