Dad. It’s the most common first word a child will speak*. Da, da, da, da… Dad!
“Mum” is second, (sorry mums!).
Throughout our lives we reference our Dads as such; Father, Daddy, Pappa, my Old Man, and if you happen to be a Hobbit then “me old Gaffa”. When you use your Dad’s first name it feels awkward. It’s like acting out teenage rebellion.
Interesting to note then that the very first word many babies say is not only a mark of family and close relationship but one of respect and honour…
An age old saying
There is a great Psalm which often gets quoted with scissors; “God ordains strength out of the mouth of babes and sucklings”. It’s over 3000 years old but we still quote it today. Pretty neat right?
Jesus quotes this line himself in referencing young children praising his identity – the grown ups couldn’t grasp who he was but the kids got it in one. “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they sang. Huge irony is on display as (King) David was the one who wrote the Psalm.
Who knew that babies even though they grapple with words are used to appoint and affirm identity? They probably don’t teach you that at the Early Learning Centre. Babies decree to their Fathers in that first word “I belong to you and you belong to me”. How powerful!
Sadly later on in life it can be a different story. For many the name “Father” is associated with disappointment, distance and bitterness. Our dads can mess us up big time and this can cause deep resentment.
— James Hopkirk (@jameshopkirk) 4 May 2016
We see this in the space opera Star Wars. Luke Skywalker despite the shock realisation that Darth Vader a galactic dictator and planet destroyer was his dad, decides to speak over him his true identity and even uses his parting words to say “Father”. That word puts to rest the trouble between them. It’s a significant moment of forgiveness.
What Luke was practising wasn’t goldfish forgiveness, it wasn’t forgetting the past. He made a choice to untangle himself from the slow poison that is bitterness which perhaps kills more people then any other thing.
In the same way if we change the way we think about our Fathers we set ourselves and them up for a changed life. Judgement evaporates and who they really are begins to be spoken out with the strength our infant selves once spoke with. Crazy right?
By Dan Lee