Father’s Day is an interesting phenomenon, especially if you are in the church world.
For Mother’s Day, restaurants and churches are packed out. There is a sale on TV for over a month.
Father’s Day ads last for only a few weeks, you can get a dinner reservation the day before (or even the day of) and actually the attendance at church is the same or lower than it is on a regular Sunday.
In the wee hours Saturday morning, I went on Facebook to change my profile and cover to a pic with dad. I probably was the only one out of my friends that did. For Mother’s Day, folks usually start this process on Thursday. That was it. I was so annoyed I had to write this post!
What’s up with dad’s getting no love?
In the 80′s, we religiously watched the Cosby Show (Cliff Huxtable played by Dr. Bill Cosby and Claire Huxtable played by Phylicia Rashad). People said that type of black family didn’t really exist. Interestingly enough, people totally believed that the parents on Growing Pains (Dr. Jason Seavers played by Alan Thicke [yeah, Robin Thicke's dad] and Maggie Seavers played by Joanna Kerns) existed. You can figure that out for yourself.
There were (and are) a lot of black dad’s like Cliff Huxtable and I know many of them personally. There may not have been a doctor and a lawyer together in the home, but the parents were some sort of professional and had the same principles. Our household was like this and my parents have been married for 42 years.
Mom’s get all the love because they give birth to and nurture us, but dad’s have a very pivotal and overlooked role in our development.
Dad’s are the first guy that we have a relationship with. They provide us with a sense of stability. They help us to have confidence (especially girls) and teach us how to be or what to see in a good man.
The media gives black dads a bad rap. Most of the portrayals of black dads are either some guy down on his luck or some dead-beat guy trying to skip out on his child support from one of his many “baby mamma’s.”
With all that being said, this post is dedicated to those overlooked dad’s that are doing it right. So let me give a shout-out to my dad!
He’s just a headache looking for a head.” –Fred Johnson, III
About Fred Johnson, III a.k.a. My Daddy
My first memory of dad was when I was about 2-3 years old. My parents were coming in from some late night event. I was tired and didn’t feel like walking into the house. I pretended to be sleep (guess this was my first memory of a manipulative move) so he would pick me up and carry me into the house.
He would take my sister and I EVERYWHERE! We would go to this huge park to feed the ducks and fly kites, hang out with his friends at his softball games and eat a ton of sweet stuff we probably had no business eating like moon pies (a southern thing), Bubble Yum gum, lots of peppermint, and Necco’s. I really enjoyed going to this little hole-in-the wall fish place where we would get a traditional Chattanooga, TN fish sandwich: white bread, two thick pieces of fried whiting, mustard, pickle and cole slaw (yes, on the sandwich) held together with a toothpick. And don’t forget the Nehi grape or Tahitian Treat soda. Yummy!
Dad likes to have a lot of fun. He likes to joke around, play sports (nowadays lots of golf) and thinks he can dance. He was the cool dad that would take me and my friends to concerts (it was kind of weird for him to be at the New Edition concert with three pre-teen girls screaming for Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike and Ralph), to the movies and some other awesome places.
Dad was very active in church and school. He made sure we were in Sunday School every week and volunteered us for every play (of course we would find out after he signed us up…). He was part of the PTA, went to all the parent and report card meetings, checked your grades and helped you with your math homework.
Although dad was the cool dad, he didn’t mess around when it came to discipline. He is an old-school dude, so he was big on us being polite and mannerly with all the ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘yes sir’s.” Most of the time, he only needed to cut his eye at you and you would straighten up. If you did something really bad, he would whoop you (southern term for a really bad spanking). He tries to act like he doesn’t remember that. What made it worse is he would whoop you and then want to have a long talk about it. Did he really need to explain that and did I really care?
Success is your best revenge.” –Fred Johnson, III
During my undergraduate and graduate years in college, dad used to write me letters on a monthly or quarterly basis. In the letters he would talk about things that happened when I was a kid and explain them. He would talk about his philosophy of life and mistakes that he made. He would talk about his rationale for how he raised us and expectations that he had of us as adults. This gave me a deeper appreciation and understanding of my parents and my childhood.
Dad In the Now…
To this day, if dad is seeing us for the first time in a day he greets us with a smile, a big hug and plants a nice, wet warm one square on the forehead.
As an adult, my sister and I have a high level of respect for dad. We make our own decisions, but in the back of our minds we take his standards into consideration.
We can call him when we need something (just know that his advice will include some random 3-point manifesto along with a few quotes). There would always be some quirky story, almost like he was trying to be like Jesus with the parables and all. His favorite go-to lesson was from his dad:
When my dad got his first job out of college he worked for Dupont and was making $13,000 a year. In 1973 that was a lot of money. The first thing he wanted to do was to buy a new car. He talked to his dad about this. His dad schooled him on what his priorities should be in life but dad was still adamant about getting the new car. Granddaddy said “Son, I’m going to let you in on a secret. They make new cars every year.” That was the end of that conversation.
I use that illustration a lot with my students. Here are some other “Fredisms” that I have shared with my friends and students in our conversations:
- Respect your elders. If you were a supervisor or 10 years older, you were to be addressed as a Mr. or Mrs. I still practice that at work and other places I go.
- He believes that after God, the most important assets are your name and your credit (score). He is BIG on doing thing in integrity and making a good name for yourself.
- He judges a situation by if it’s illegal, unethical or immoral (there he goes with the 3′s again).
- He believes in the letter of law and the spirit of the law. There are rules in place (letter of the law) to maintain order and protect people, however, there are exceptions for rules to be broken (spirit of the law).
- He believes that you should do your best, do more than is expected of you, but also have fun. Life is short and family is paramount.
- Rules without relationship leads to rebellion. You have to develop relationships with your kids and people that work for you before and while you are just spouting out orders. They will either resent or go all out for you.
I hope you saw some of your dad in Mr. Fred Johnson, III. If you didn’t know your dad or didn’t have the best dad, live vicariously through this post.
Your challenge today is to reach out to all the good fathers in your life: husband, brothers, friends, etc. that have been positive role models in your life and the lives of others. They will really appreciate it.
In the meantime, enjoy this Father’s Day video that came out a few years ago (hence the flip phone). Hysterical!
Love you dad! From Nikki & Nita