By Abe Villarreal
In a society where we remain on the journey to achieve equality on all measures, dads continue to get a bad rap.
Terms such as “deadbeat dads” seem to comfortably roll off our tongues.
Google the phrase single mom and you'll get far more results than searching for single dad.
For decades, television shows have portrayed fathers as clumsy, overweight, the weaker parent. The last time a popular TV dad was the responsible, level-headed leader in the household, his wife was the goofy redheaded comedienne who relied on him to save her from her wacky antics.
Dads are better than we portray them. Dads are necessary.
In my adult life, I've had the blessing of volunteering for local non-profits such as the Silver City Gospel Mission. The organization serves the homeless and disadvantaged. Most of them are men. Many of them are fathers. In Silver City, we have a home for battered women and a second refuge for homeless women. No such place for dads.
When the going gets tough, dads are supposed to be tougher. Dads should just shake things off and come back stronger. Dads are meant to figure things out, but sometimes life can be complicated without easy answers.
Dads are more likely to be serving their country in desolate places. There's a good chance that dads can be found digging underground, climbing tall buildings, and chasing criminals in fast-paced vehicles.
What's really amazing is that dads are the kind of people who quietly make things happen. Not through hugs and kisses, but through blisters and scrapes. Not with long talks, but with immediate action. Dads won't tell you they love you as much as moms, but they'll show it in ways you may not realize.
Growing up, there was a good cop and bad cop in my household. Mom would give us the evil eye; dad would ask us to listen to her. It's not because dad didn't want to make decisions. It was because he respected her decisions, and wanted us to learn to do the same.
For some time I resented my parents. They were overprotective. Asked too many questions. I thought they didn't trust me to make my own decisions. They were correct.
Is it possible to care too much? Not for dads.
Dads have a much more powerful role in society than we often notice or appreciate. They not only teach us the basics of driving and fixing a flat tire, they teach us the importance of considering others when we are behind that wheel. Looking both ways, stopping and going, slowing down when necessary - these are life's most fundamental lessons, applicable to far more than driving down a busy road.
When I'm making my way through a rural dirt path in the middle of nowhere, sometimes I don't care where I'm going, and I know I'll end up in just the right place.
All I have to do is look both ways. Slow down before deciding. Respect someone when he has the right of way. Pick up others when needed. Help those that can't make it on their own. Ask for directions. Appreciate the view ahead.
If I do all those things, I'll be doing just what dad asked me to do, and I'll be OK.
Abe Villarreal is the Director of Communications at Western New Mexico University. When not on campus, he enjoys writing about his observations on marketing, life, people and American traditions.