Despite not being a father I figured I would use the day as an excuse to talk about my friends, use some quotes and discuss movies.
“Any man can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad” – unknown
I am really lucky to have the friends I have. The guys are great dads (and the moms great moms). I am pleased to have the opportunity to be a dad vicariously through them. And I am fascinated by how each, in their own unique way, shows their love for their kids.
In the end how they do it is irrelevant. It’s that they actually do it that matters.
And research supports what our gut tells us that it matters.
Research has shown that a father’s love is just as important as—or sometimes even more important than—a mother’s love.
It is obvious that fathers who enjoy a loving, nurturing relationship with their children have important opportunities to influence the direction children take in life. Studies have demonstrated that young people whose fathers are actively involved in their lives have greater self-confidence, perform better in school, and are better able to avoid risky behaviors.
All that said … I have truly come to respect great fathers because being a loving father is not easy. It requires a dedication, a commitment and making the time. Whether they feel comfortable doing so or not … fathers must learn about the different stages of child development and become familiar with the strengths, weaknesses, personalities, and specific needs of their children as individuals. Dads also must build their listening and communication skills (not a particularly strong characteristic in the male world) and ultimately not just be a great father but also a great partner’ (if married) to insure alignment. Being a great father takes some strength of character, giving and earning respect and a shitload of resiliency <because all kids constantly test your patience>.
This first portion was written to say to all fathers who have stepped up to the plate and figured out how to show love to their kids (regardless of its end expression) that they are doing a damn good job. No matter how difficult it may seem.
Before I get to the really fun part here are my three favorite father quotes:
To nourish children and raise them against odds is in any time, any place, more valuable than to fix bolts in cars or design nuclear weapons. – Marilyn French
“Any man can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad” – unknown
“My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass”; “We’re not raising grass,” Dad would reply. “We’re raising boys”
- Harmon Killebrew
I like ‘em because they seem to capture the essence of what I believe is a good father. And, happily so, it reflects my best friend’s who are dads and their attitudes.
OK. And now to the fun part. Movies.
In honor of Father’s Day I tried to pick my best father movies. It was tricky but here is my basic criteria.
I thought about it from the perspective of the fact anyone can bring a child into this world, but it takes a true man to be a father. At the same time … fathers aren’t superheroes (although it takes superhuman effort) and they aren’t always perfect. And it is ultimately their imperfections that often make them a special father. Despite personal flaws … they try to overcome those flaws for the sake of their children. I tried to find the flawed fathers, who were human, but also depicted some super-human “heart.”
Here you go. My top father movies.
(note: some of the movie writeups are other people’s words which I used because they can summarize what I wanted to say about the movie much better than i)
Well. May as well begin with an animated dad. And a fish. Oh. A clownfish too. This father is a widower clownfish who becomes a neurotically over protective dad. His smothering attitude so infuriates his little son, Nemo, that the little fish swims defiantly away and is captured by divers. The father must then go on an epic journey to rescue his son.
Voiced by Albert Brooks, a loving but over-protective little clownfish must search the entire ocean to find his lost son. Nemo has a disability, which his father has taught him to call his “lucky fin.” This shows us that at some level, even before he is aware of it himself, he wants to teach his son to be strong, confident, and independent.
This is an AWESOME movie that shouldn’t get lost. It is timeless. Antonio Ricci is a poor young father struggling to make a living in post-war Rome. He finds a job putting up posters around town only to have his bicycle stolen by a brash thief. The rest of the film follows Antonio and his young son as they attempt to track down the bicycle.
You would have to not have a heart not to be moved by this story of a poor man and his young son, as they search the streets of Rome to find his stolen bicycle, which he needs for his job. As their search continues we become aware that the poor man’s real treasure is not the bike, but his son. An incredibly touching father/son movie.
To Kill a Mockingbird
The father of a daughter <Dill>, Atticus Finch <Gregory Peck> gives a fatherly performance of granite decency and integrity. He is a widower and Alabama lawyer who defends a black man against a wrongful charge of rape. This is one of the most highly charged depictions of fatherhood in Hollywood history. This father, this man, is one who takes the moral high ground even when it leaves him largely outnumbered. Atticus is the ultimate role model of equality, courage, and empathy to his children. And yet, throughout, he is able to do all this while still encouraging Dill and Scout’s individuality and giving them the freedom to make up their own minds. He is everything you want from a father.
This may seem out of place because it is certainly no cinematic classic. It isn’t odd because it is a vivid demonstration of the extremes a father will take for a child. In Taken, Liam Neeson plays an estranged divorced father of a 17 year old girl. He’s a retired government agent who has missed much of his daughter’s childhood due to his job, and it’s also cost him his marriage. Having retired, he chooses to live in the same city as his daughter in an effort to make up for lost time. His ex-wife wants to let their daughter go to Paris and he grudgingly gives in against his better judgment. Once in Paris his daughter & her friend are kidnapped to be sold into white slavery. From here on out this is all about a father relentlessly tracking down her kidnappers and finding her before she disappears forever. Rarely has there been such a single-minded fatherly demonstration on screen of a father going to any extreme to save the life of his daughter.
Sleepless in Seattle
Almost impossible to leave this sappy one off the list. You gotta love the reversed relationship moments throughout the movie where the young son plays the role of the adult. It is an amazingly clever way to show how well a father is bringing up a son without being heavy handed. The love story is simply an addendum to the power of a great father-son relationship. We all know the story. Despite being devastated by the loss of his wife the father is committed to being a positive and caring father for his son Jonah. Hanks is particularly good at showing us how Sam’s love for Jonah both sustains him and makes him miss his wife even more because every moment reminds him of how much he wishes she could share his pride or supply some guidance. The true “father moment”?
Look for Hanks’s expression as he arrives at the top of the Empire State Building in search of Jonah, who has flown to New York from Seattle in search of a woman he thinks might be right for his father. The combined relief and desperation as he asks himself, more than Jonah, whether “haven’t we been doing all right” … is something every father can understand.
Father of the Bride
George (Steve Martin) is the father of Annie whose journey from girlhood to womanhood has seemed oh so short. She’s just about ready to get married which has George shaking in his sneakers.
Steve Martin shines as the bumbling, nervous father who’ll do anything for his little girl … including letting her go. The defining Father moment? The scene of Steve Martin playing basketball with his daughter in the driveway is priceless. It captures the essence of what is at the true core of love and sharing and the inseparable bond that can be created beyond a father and a child way beyond words.
And I have to end with what I believe is the penultimate father movie.
Life is Beautiful
Whew. This one is amazing.
Guido Orefice is one of the rare movie fathers that is genuinely good from start to finish. Even through the atrocities of the Holocaust, he found a way to keep a smile on his young boy’s face. In an effort to preserve the innocence of his son, while also protecting him, Guido turned the Holocaust into a game. As impossible as it sounds, he turned every trash can into a hiding place and the Nazis into nothing more than fake villains. As far as his son knew, the entire concentration camp was created just for him. There is so much devastation throughout the film, yet Guido’s persistence and dedication to family surpassed his own selfish desire to survive. Even when a pair of Nazis hauls him out of the living quarters to beat him mercilessly, he convinces his child it is all part of the game. No matter the cost, he was committed to psychologically and physically protecting his son during one of the most horrifying events in human history.
There you go. Happy Fathers Day my friends.