Dads, It’s Been a Long Year, and Our Families Are Counting on Us

Matthew Barnett, Looking back at life as we once knew it — before any lockdowns and before the word ‘pandemic’ became an integral part of our vocabulary — feels like a distant memory.

While many of the state and local government restrictions are waning, there are some things about our daily lives that may never go back to the way they were. Mask mandates still persist in many private businesses, the economy has yet to fully recover here in LA, and there remains a hesitancy by some to participate in heavily crowded events.

Yet, not all of the radical changes we have endured have been for the worse. For example, many dads have experienced more time at home with family than at any point in my lifetime. And my prayer for this Father’s Day is that it will serve as a pivotal moment when dads commit to not going back to life as usual.

I don’t have to remind anyone that it’s been a long year, and that we’re all anxious to rebuild and ignite a comeback. But to ignite this comeback? Dads, I’m looking at you.

Our children, our families, and our communities need us. There’s a lot of debate about what Congress can do for us to jumpstart a recovery for the average working family. There are some good conversations about what the mayor, the governor, and the local school systems here in LA can do to make life better.

But dads, I don’t believe we need to sit back and simply wait for civil servants to rescue us; and I don’t think we can afford to wait another minute for a helping hand.

So let’s make this Father’s Day about action. Let’s make it a milestone where we identify and commit to exactly what we’re going to do to help rebuild. The extra quality time with family that was a silver lining throughout the pandemic for many of us, I implore each of you to find ways to keep that part of your routine. Make sacrifices every day to ensure it happens.

Perhaps give extra attention to the son or daughter in your household that has struggled with loneliness after many months with little social interaction, or who has fallen behind at school.

Maybe even lookout for a family that doesn’t get that much quality time with dad, or any at all.

I know this is tough to hear, but consider making financial sacrifices as well. Making tough decisions now usually means a better foundation for your family, and more opportunities for your children down the road. Consider everything you can possibly do, right now, to help your family get back on its feet.

I’ve met a lot of dads who were struggling to take care of their families over the past year. My heart breaks for all those who have already taken all of this advice and are still pressing through the hard stuff of life. I promise I’ll be your biggest cheerleader and your greatest prayer warrior as you make your family your No. 1 priority.

Fatherhood is challenging. I know firsthand. Juggling time, money, careers, mental health, and stubborn addictions, all while trying to love our children to the fullest — it’s not for the faint of heart! But commit now, on Father’s Day, to being the dad your family and your neighborhood are counting on to kick off a comeback this year.

This important Sunday in American culture is typically about dads getting something special. Yes, it’s fun to be celebrated and acknowledged for a day. I love the many ways my children have blessed me over the years. But I’m more interested in identifying new ways we can be the dads our children need right now.

Fatherhood is the best gift I’ve ever been given, and never once have I looked back on a sacrifice I’ve made for my children and regretted it. I’m confident you’ll feel the same way.

Matthew Barnett is the co-founder of the Los Angeles Dream Center and senior pastor of Angelus Temple. The Los Angeles Dream Center is a faith-based non-profit dedicated to transforming the lives of individuals and families in Los Angeles through residential and outreach programs.