Celebrating imperfection


Today we celebrate fathers. The truth about fathers, most of us who are dads know, is that we don’t always have the answers or sometimes even a good response. We are well aware of our mistakes and shortcomings.

No dad is ideal; we know this about our own fathers and our children know it about us. And yet we love and are loved. Fathers matter enormously — to an individual’s psychological and spiritual development, and to society. Even less than perfect fathers matter.

We need fathers, especially good ones. For the next year, Toledo officials will work with the Ridge Project and Hope 4 Toledo to reward and promote good father figures, for the sake of struggling fathers and struggling young men.

The Ridge Project is a Christian-based program that helps fathers in prison develop parenting skills. The project serves more than 4,000 inmates in 16 Ohio prisons through a program called Keeping Families and Inmates Together in Harmony, or Keeping FAITH.

Hope 4 Toledo is a group of Toledo-area businessmen dedicated to telling “the stories of men who have changed their lives.” Starting today, it will recognize one person a month as this area’s Father of the Month. The Blade will profile each person who is selected.

Women are eligible if they promote fatherhood. Cathy Tijerina, the Ridge Project’s co-founder and executive director, is recognized as a hero for her efforts in raising three children while her husband was incarcerated for 15 years. She calls the project a way to reach out to forgotten victims of crime — the spouses and children of those in jail or prison.

Mark Robinson, a Lourdes University professor and father of two, is a recipient of a Fatherhood Hero award, part of an Obama Administration effort to promote fatherhood nationwide. Mr. Robinson co-created one of the first fatherhood initiatives in Lucas County. He now runs another faith-based nonprofit, RESTORE Inc., which sponsors an annual camp for fathers and their children.

The goal of these efforts is to underline the importance of all fathers, especially for young men who are engaged in, or on the cusp of, criminal behavior. When fathers keep learning and keep trying, they matter enormously.