Not too many years ago fishing and hunting, the blood sports among all outdoor pursuits, played a more prominent role in our children’s growing-up process than it seems they do today.
That’s bad for several reasons, and sociologists tell us that one of the factors making it bad is the increasing number of single-parent households, and predominance of women leading those single-parent families.
We see what’s happening: Mothers have a tough time taking care of all that goes with raising children, then to add in activities like fishing and hunting possibly is asking too much of them.
It all the more points out the role fathers need to take for their children.
Most of us baby boomers were fortunate, at least most of the folks I knew. We had dads and moms. Our parents came through the Great Depression, were involved in some way, shape or form in World War II, and it became very apparent to us later on that they were determined that we shouldn’t have to endure those hardships. Heck, I know my Dad saw more by the time he turned 25 than most of today’s Americans will see in a lifetime.
My Dad, God rest his soul, was a highly decorated U.S. Army Infantry company commander who left home in September 1942 and returned in February 1946.
It was my Dad who gave me a healthy respect for firearms, a respect I carry afield today.
He was not a hunter, but put a pistol in his hand and his aim was as good as any man I’ve known. I figured he didn’t care for the report of a rifle because he’d heard so much of it from Normandy to across the Elbe River in Germany.
Yet he took our Boy Scout troop to the Army Reserve rifle range, taught us how to handle weapons, the safety needed learn how to use a weapon, then had us fire enough 22-caliber rounds to make us comfortable and cautious with a weapon.
During the last years, when weapons violence has become a part of our daily lives, it dawned on me that maybe these criminals who use weapons to become the criminals they are didn’t have a dad around to let them know about pistols and rifles, about how to handle themselves in society, and give them a respect of and for life that baby boomers’ dads had after seeing so many young lives stopped in their youth.
Maybe one of the reasons why there is so much gun violence in our country is that we have a decreasing number of dads in daily family life, not as many dads who are military veterans, and not as many young people learning about weapons in military service.
That’s why its important for all men to make a commitment to take a bigger role in the raising of children in our communities. We need to become mentors to youngsters, and get them into the outdoors. Let’s teach them how to fish, how to hunt and how to handle weapons.
My Dad was not a hunter nor a fisher, but he never forbade his sons from those activities. He spent his time working, taking care of his family and LSU sports.
And I miss him.