Paul Asay, of Dads Matter, notices that father figures are often the subjects of Oscar nominated movies, “And we see that same strain in many of them. Fathers matter, these movies tell us. How dads do their jobs has a huge impact on their children—for good or ill. And very often, dads don’t do their jobs very well. And yet, the need for Dad—the desire for his love and approval—rarely goes away.” He illustrates:
The first Oscars telecast I ever watched was in 1982, when I was 12 years old. I was personally rooting for Raiders of the Lost Ark that year, but On Golden Pond the story of a father and his daughter who spend dedicated time on the waters of Golden Pond, forcing them to work through their strained, unhappy relationship was up for a bunch of awards, too, including Best Picture, Best Actor, for Henry Fonda and best Supporting Actress for Henry’s daughter, Jane.
Henry won, and Jane bounded to the stage to accept the award for her absent father.
“Oh, Dad,” she said, overwhelmed, “I’m so happy, and so proud for you.”…There was quite a backstory behind those 10 words.
Henry Fonda had been one of Hollywood’s leading men for five decades …but he’d never won an Oscar. By 1982, meanwhile, daughter Jane had already won two. …
The two famous Fondas never had a warm relationship. Henry was not an outwardly affectionate man, Jane says, and Jane’s political activism infamous for her support of the communist regime during the Vietnam War strained their affections almost to the breaking point. In many ways, their relationship resembled what audiences saw onscreen.
Jane bought the rights to On Golden Pond as a star vehicle for her father … She mentions in the interview that Henry Fonda died just five months after receiving his Oscar. Giving it to him, she says, was “one of the happiest moments of my life.”
Paul Asay (@AsayPaul) is a contributor for Dad Matters and a senior associate editor for PluggedIn.com.
“Dads matter,” says Asay. “Henry Fonda mattered so much to Jane that she bought a movie for him and cast herself beside him, just so she could say the things she was desperate to say. They tried to heal wounds through scripted words, finding real-world solace behind the safety of fiction.”
Dads, don’t frustrate your children. Don’t make make them hide “behind the safety of fiction,” or “scripted words.”
Be the kind of dad that readily invites honest, transparent communication with your children. After all, they may not have the luxury of fame and fortune to be able to buy the rights to a movie in order to vicariously work through their issues with you.
Find your own “Golden Pond.” Go there with your child, and intently listen … really listen … to their hearts. You won’t win an Oscar for Best Actor, but you just might win Best Father in a reality series!
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). “…Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).