After Father’s Day, Still Asking: What Makes a Great Father?

Written by Karen Serna on June 18, 2014

There is a framed poem on my mother’s desk entitled, “What Is a Mom?” It’s actually a poem that my brother wrote for her years ago for Mother’s Day. That poem and the fact that it was Father’s Day recently got me to thinking about writing my own poem, “What Is a Father?”. While I am not the poet in the family, I did wax sentimental while thinking about my own father who is no longer with us. Admittedly, Father’s Day still stings a little even though my dad died a little over five years ago.

He was a man of great character and integrity. He was a man who, if he borrowed a penny from you, would promptly return it. If he said he was going to do something, then he did it even if it cost him greatly. He was a strong man who showed great courage in the midst of intense stress. He was a hardworking man who had to be dying to miss a day’s work; and even at that, he probably went to work anyway. He was a man who made even the smallest of accomplishments special. He was a man of excellence and expected the same from his children. He was a man who always thought of others as being above himself. He sacrificed many of his own desires to provide for his family and our dreams, which is not to say that we got whatever we wanted because we did not. He was an independent man and taught us to be the same. He was a supportive man who was always there to bring comfort in times of disappointment and failure. My father was a very loving and compassionate man. (I could give 1000 examples to illustrate each of these points, but you would be reading for days if I did that.) Most importantly, he was a man of faith. He was committed to God and to raising us to know God and follow God.

He sounds perfect, right? Not at all. My dad was an alcoholic until I was six. Although he never missed a day of work, and he was never abusive in anyway; he was very emotionally disconnected during that time. It was only by the grace of God that he was set free from his addiction. My dad could be very unforgiving at times. He was a perfectionist who much of the time expected us to live up to his unattainable standards.

When I look at the qualities my father had and evaluate whether he was a good father or not, I don’t look back at all the fun things we did together or at all the things he provided for me. I look at his character. I look at what he taught me to value in life. I look at the lifelong lessons he imparted into my character. Although I could recount hundreds of amazing memories I have with my father, the things that I remember most are the things that count as an adult.

As I take an honest look back at my dad, it makes me think about my amazing husband and our two children. My children adore their father – and rightly so. He is a man of great character and integrity. He is a strong man who shows great courage in the midst of intense stress. He is a hardworking man who went to work sick today in order to provide for us. He is a man who celebrates even the smallest of victories, and everyone that knows him knows that he is a man of excellence. He is a man who always places others above himself and sacrifices his own desires to see that his children are well cared for. He is independent and always supportive. My husband is a very loving and compassionate man. Most importantly, he is a man of faith. He is committed to God and to raise our children to know God and follow God.

Will my children look back on these days with fondness and joy? Absolutely! Will my children always remember all the fun things their father did with them? Definitely! But in the end, I suspect they’ll be telling their children about my husband’s character most of all. They say that girls marry their fathers; so for those of you with little girls, I would suggest that you decide what kind of man you hope your daughter marries and then become that man because when I take a good look at my husband, I see a great deal of my father.

Image: Courtesy of:


Karen Serna is a wife and homeschooling mom with two children. She holds a degree in Chemistry with a minor in Math from Angelo State University. In addition, she is a certified secondary educator. Prior to having children, Karen worked for Texas State University-San Marcos as an analytical chemist and industrial hygienist for over twelve years. Her passion lies in seeing a generation of Americans once again embrace true freedom.