In Persian, there is a famous saying, Pedaret, taje saret. It means your father is the crown on your head. The saying is extremely true in my case.
As the supermoms all over Great Neck will proudly boast, men are not by nature equipped to handle children. They are also so busy providing for their families amidst rising expenditures and expectations. Only through extreme dedication and contemplation can they excel at this lofty task. My father is a brilliant example.
Though mothers play the primary role in many traditional Persian households, I still believe that no child can have a whole upbringing without a loving and present father. Through self-sacrifice, my father became a figure for us to look up to and emulate. He taught us by example. He personified work ethic, persistence and honesty. He gave us his attention and, when all else failed, he prayed for our well-being.
He knew when to stand firm and when to leave us room to grow. I remember as a child when I was afraid, he would say, “You never need to be afraid when you are with me.”
When I got older, he taught me to be brave and that I can make it on my own. My father served as a soldier in the Six Day War as a youth. He then worked his way up in any field he could. He moved from country to country, but there was no barrier great enough to stop him from achieving his goals, while simultaneously setting aside time to be present with his family.
I once read an article about how the children of millennials have a lack of respect for their parents. I remember thinking that respect cannot be demanded, but must be earned.
Sometimes, it is not only children who are at fault for the lack of respect. Children, small though they are, know well enough what is honorable and deserving of reverence. Not every parent can be or needs to be a war hero. Still, children treasure, appreciate and need quality time and effort in any way that it is set before them. As a mother, I feel responsible to be worthy of my children’s respect. It is not a given right for having borne them.
Of course, teenagers will rebel irrespective. They need to explore the world and find their own space. As a teenager, I remember avoiding my dad and defying him. I know now that I was just afraid. I didn’t know it, but all along I was just too terrified of needing someone and loving someone so much.
I was resisting being judged by him, and being so far removed from his perfection. I was afraid that to disappoint him would be to lose him. I was prepared to hide myself from his view, even if it also limited my sight of him. Thankfully, the teenage years come to an end. My dad knew well enough to wait it out with patience and nonchalance.
My dear readers, I bless you to be parents and grandparents as superb as mine. Enjoy your children and be present in their lives. They grow up too fast.
For those who have lost a parent, may you find comfort for the great void that life has dealt you.
To my young readers, I pray you will have more wisdom than I. I hope you will utilize every moment and show how you feel. Loving, caring and needing are not weaknesses. They are the fine threads that hold this world together.
In Iran, they did not celebrate Father’s Day. Perhaps they felt that one day can never do justice in repaying a lifetime of selflessness. Nonetheless, I hope all fathers, grandfathers and fathers-in-law everywhere had a happy Father’s Day.