Upton: Father's love a foundation of self-respect

Upton: Father's love a foundation of self-respect

June 25th, 2009 by Tabi Upton in Opinion Columns

Father's Day has come and gone, but I still can't stop thinking about dads. My father enjoyed engaging us children. I still remember jumping in the car with him after basketball practice one day in middle school, asking him to drop off a friend.

"Sure," he said, and proceeded to talk easily about the day while he drove. My friend stepped out of the car later, her jaw close to the ground.

"I can't believe your dad talks to you like that!" she said in disbelief. I was confused, "Like what?" I wondered.

Having a verbally connected father has shaped me in countless ways. For one, I put as much of a premium on Father's Day as Mother's Day. I've noticed that this is not the norm. Some people told me they sent texts to their dads. Others didn't do much at all.

On Monday, I listened to radio personalities joke about the disappointments some fathers endured on their special day, something rarely heard on Mother's Day. It's no secret, the world is putting less value on the presence and power of the father. Worse, many men themselves don't know how important they are to their children.

In 2006, interviewer Nancy Madsen asked former pro-football player Bill Glass what he thought the country's biggest problem was. He answered, "The lack of the father's blessing. The FBI studied the 17 kids that have shot their classmates in little towns like Paducah, Kentucky; Pearl, Mississippi; and Littleton, Colorado. All 17 shooters had one thing in common. They had a father problem. I see it so much; it's just unbelievable. There's something about it when a man doesn't get along with his father. It makes him mean; it makes him dangerous; it makes him angry."

After years of working in the nation's prisons and detention centers, Glass said he has noticed that no other issue seems to be the most consistent with the inmates. He said that his father would kiss him goodnight and tell him what a good boy he was. He himself has hugged and kissed his own 250-pound boys on numerous occasions.

On Father's Day, my own daddy gave me and my siblings the most amazing gift I have ever received: a written blessing. He spoke to us about our character, what he sees for our future, the hopes and dreams he has for us. The moment he read mine, I felt totally caught of guard with wonder and gratitude. I felt as though I had just been knighted, and should've been bowing humbly before a king.

But even a father not so eloquent can bless his child. A simple,"I really like you, kid," will do fine.

Bill Glass went on to say that when he "...grabbed that eldest son of mine recently and said, 'I love, I bless you, I think you're terrific, and I'm so glad you're mine." His shoulders began to shake and his eyes filled with tears, and he said, 'Dad, I really needed that.'

We all need that, right now and for the rest of our lives.