From my front row seat

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Endangered Unicorn Daddy

Dear Daddy on the Phone,

I believe I owe you an apology.  Despite the fact you call nearly every single afternoon to talk to your son, you have somehow slipped completely under my radar.  You'd think I would have noticed you before now because you are actually quite rare - in fact, you belong to a group that is virtually extinct.

Many years ago I went on an exciting photographic safari in Kenya.  Right away we were told to look for a particular rhinoceros because it was extremely rare.  The only one in the area lived alone, which I found quite sad, and it was very old, so sightings of this amazing creature were scarce and perhaps soon to be impossible.

However, one day, way off in the distance I spotted the famed rhinoceros.  Our driver carefully crept closer so we could get a photograph.  Apparently the powerful animal was quite shy.

Once we got a little closer, we could see the massive horn and weathered hide.  It was quite a sight to see.  I remember thinking, "This is like finding a unicorn!"

We often refer to something rare and exceptional as a unicorn - so I hope you are not offended, but I now think of you as a "Unicorn Daddy".  You see, one day recently when you were talking to your little boy on the phone, I stopped what I was doing and tried to remember how many times I had seen this sight - a child talking to his father on the phone.  Something seemed out of place.

I began to reflect back over the hundreds of children we had served over the past fifteen years.  Had I seen this before?  I thought...and thought...and thought.  Truth is, I could only remember four fathers who had taken a positive and consistent role in their children's lives.  Four.

I think we get used to assuming all dads are in jail or perhaps they are just a dim memory of the mothers'.  How many times have I heard, "His father just went to jail for a long time," as the explanation when a child is acting out?  We have seen that behavior so many times I think we just assume, "Oh, of course, that explains everything."  Again.

Many times our boys show up desperately trying to be the father to the younger siblings.  He may have assumed that role as soon as he noticed there was no father in the home.  But that must surely be confusing.  How do you become a father if you don't know what that looks like?

That's where we come in.  We have a very robust Children's Program, full of adventure, education, and individualized care.  We provide on-site counseling.  We place mentors with our boys so they can learn how to respect women, how to treat others - how to put a worm on a hook.  But is that enough?

Well, we may not be totally replacing the dad.  But I do believe we are making good future fathers.

The boys we serve are growing up in an entirely different environment than their fathers probably did.  They are surrounded by people who love and respect them, who provide a healthy, structured routine, and by people who lift them up.  They are able to observe their mothers, as they become healthier parents.  And most importantly, they learn about their Heavenly Father, who loves them and will never leave them, no matter what.

Our kids, who lived with us as toddlers, are now visiting us as teenagers.  And you know what they have to say?  "We want our children to live like we did at Blue Monarch, and we want our grandchildren to live like that, too."  Those are some good mommies and daddies in the making.

So, Unicorn Daddy, the next time I hear your voice on the phone, I will take the time to thank you because there are lots of children who are not getting that phone call, and sadly they never will. I guess I'm just now figuring out what your little boy has known all along - you are one rare and special dad.  And if I had been paying attention, I would have seen that in your child's face the whole time.


Lord, please bless our little boys, that they will get the firm foundation they need to become good and healthy fathers to their own children one day.  And thank you for the daddies who are there for their children, even through the struggles of their own.  Amen