Dear Dads everywhere, everyday,

One day each year, we give you some extra hugs, new socks, and maybe a box of golf balls, tell you we love you … and promptly go back to our everyday lives. Father’s Day isn’t so much a day-long holiday as a brief moment to recognize what you mean to us.

The reality is you mean more to us that you … and we … realize. For all the teasing we make about the strange way you dance, guard the thermostat, and continue to wear shoes that should have been tossed out years ago, you’re critically important to our family’s well-being, the health of our communities, and the future of our children.

It’s true that the roles of fathers have changed dramatically since your grandfather was raising your dad, and that has led to some uneasiness and confusion among men. We understand that you may not always be sure of what everyone expects of you, and we know that can be frustrating. You want to be a different kind of father than the generations that preceded you, but you struggle with finding the right balance between leader and companion, disciplinarian and coach, and parent and buddy.

I wanted to take a moment to let you know just how much you matter in the lives of those around you, and to tell you we see you stepping up in so many ways. You may not always be completely confident in the decisions you make, but your intent is to protect and provide for those you love. After all, protecting and providing are the traditional roles for fathers in our society.

When you protect us, it’s not just against wild animals or physical danger. You’re also concerned about our emotional and moral well-being and want to keep negative influences from touching the family. When you provide for us, it’s more than bringing home a paycheck. It’s being cognizant of all our needs and making sure they’re addressed.

Even when they don’t feel like leaders, fathers provide leadership to their families. That doesn’t mean you monopolize decisions. Instead, it means you become a role model. The children watch how you treat others both inside and outside the family. They see how you handle stressful or frightening situations. They look at how you deal with ethical issues. Your behavior forms the foundation for how they’ll act as adults.

Your partnership with your wife is also a model the kids will take with them into adulthood. If you treat each other with respect, aren’t afraid to be affectionate in front of them, and handle the inevitable conflicts constructively, they’ll seek out partners who will do the same.

You’re a source of encouragement for all around you. When you help others grow and become better, you’re not doing it to advance yourself. You want them to be the best they can for their own sake. We also see you stepping up to support kids and families who don’t have a steady father figure. That’s why your own children’s friends enjoy hanging out at your home.

Finally, you provide correction and discipline. As we grow, we learn from our mistakes and missteps — but we gain even more when a parent makes sure we understand the cost of our behavior and sees to it that we address what we’ve done.

The socks, the golf balls, the extra hugs — all those things are small tokens of love and respect. We may not remember to thank you for your vision and courage in leading our family and meeting our many needs, but rest assured we appreciate it more than you’ll ever know. What you do today as a father will live on for generations.

Are you finding the role of fatherhood difficult or confusing? Is your relationship with your partner and your kids not what you want it to be? Why not sit down with one of our team? We’ll listen to your challenges and concerns and help you develop a strategy for becoming the father you want to be, because we believe every day is a day you are worth celebrating.

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