This Father’s Day, as I think about men in our society, I can’t help but be disappointed at the way us women treat you.

– Why is it that we honor you so little? Yet expect so much?

– Why is it that we give you so little respect? Yet expect respect and love in return?

– How is it that we expect you to lead when we don’t even let you talk?

It’s about time that we honor you, and not just on Father’s Day, but every day – simply for being you.

I want to start by honoring my dad. He worked his way up from being a janitor at General Motors to a leader in Facilities Management. At a young age, he became a supervisor. He was so young that he grew a beard to appear older to his much older employees.

After my parents’ divorce, it was my dad who gained custody of myself and my brothers. He waited until we were in High School, then he went back to college. While he was not on the fast track – he was honest, focused, full of integrity and above all – he was diligent growing leaps and bounds later in his career.

He taught me that others always have a voice. That the best way to lead is by example. Was he perfect? No. Did we always get along ? No. Do I respect him?Yes. He worked his tail off, did the best he knew how to do, and no matter what – I always know that he loves me.

And you know, it wasn’t what he said, but more often-  it is what he did. He sacrificed many things to give myself and my brothers a stable home.

Dad: your actions matter. You matter. Your kids are watching.

Then there’s my father-in-law…

He is a Vietnam Veteran who lived through a horrific war and saw things I can only imagine. When I met him, he was working at the VA as a janitor, then as a supervisor. He was honored for his kindness in helping others keep their dignity. Many things happen in a hospital. He never said “That’s not my job”. In his quiet way he helped people and treated them as he wanted to be treated.

Dad: your actions matter. You matter. Your kids are watching.

And my husband…

While we don’t have kids of our own, he is a wonderful role model for our nieces, nephews, and the “kids” we raced with. Fun and laughter come out of his pores, his hands are rough from hard work, he loves new adventures, and he can debate any topic for hours. In the 20+ years we have been together, I have had the privilege of seeing him grow first into a man, and then into a great leader. A leader that I want to follow.

It wasn’t always that way…

I was taught that I could do anything. That “wanting” a man was weakness. This line from the movie The Intern (2015) sums up the issue far too well for my fellow Generation Xers:

 Nobody calls men ‘men’ anymore. Have you noticed? Women went from ‘girls’ to ‘women’ Men went from ‘men’ to ‘boys?’. This is a problem in the big picture.

Do you know what I mean? Here’s my theory about this. We all grew up during the ‘take your daughter to work day’ thing, right? ….we were always told we could be anything, do anything. And I think guys got, maybe not left behind, but not quite as nurtured, you know? I mean, like, we were the generation of “you go, girl.” We had Oprah. And I wonder sometimes how guys fit in, you know? They still seem to be trying to figure it out.”

I am disappointed at myself for my own contribution to this problem. Society encourages young girls and women to grow and change. What about you? What about your sons? When you step out somehow we don’t allow you to have real imperfections, fear and the struggles that come with growth and change. That is why you often suffer, disconnected in silence, while your wife and sisters sore.

When one of my favorite authors, Brene Brown, told a man at a book signing that she didn’t study men in her research this is what he said:

“We have shame, we have deep shame, but when we reach out and tell our stories, we get the emotional [bleep] beat out of us.” And he said,  “And before you say anything about those mean fathers and those coaches and those brothers and those bully friends, my wife and three daughters, the ones who you just signed the books for, they had rather see me die on top of my white horse than have to watch me fall off.”  (Excerpt from the November 21, 2012 interview of Brene Brown, by host Krista Tippett on The Courage to be Vulnerable)

Guys, we’ve really messed this up. Please forgive us. Remind us that our actions matter. Our words matter. The kids are watching how mom treats you.

If you fall  – we will respect you more for trying. We know you’re not perfect and today we will stop expecting you to be. We also know that you have unlimited potential that has not been released.

This Father’s Day give yourself permission to dream. To risk. To be the real you. We need you.