I’ve been a father for 31 years now. This Father’s Day might be the best one I’ve ever had, even though I’m on the road all day. The reason this one stands out is that my son, Thomas, has decided he wants to follow in my footsteps and become a father too. And he did it the hard way by getting engaged to a wonderful young woman who already has a daughter. I am truly thankful for the courage and character he has shown in making this momentous choice. I think they will have a bright future together and his daughter is one lucky little girl. He’s already doing everything a good father needs to do for his children and that makes me happy.
My own life completely changed the day he was born in 1985. Nothing I had ever done up to that point compared to the joy he brought me. We have been best friends ever since. I love both of my kids with all my heart and there is nothing I won’t do for them. I plan to be the best grandfather ever and that’s saying something considering how good my dad was with my kids. Fatherhood is the best experience any man can ever hope for and those who choose otherwise are monumental fools.
Of all the things my father taught me, there are a few lessons that are essential to being a good dad. First, learn to laugh at yourself and with your kids. None of us is perfect and the more we celebrate our moments of foolishness, the more lovable we become. Second, show their mother all the respect she deserves. Fatherhood is work but motherhood is hard work. When you honor their mother with thoughtfulness and extra effort, they will take notice and respect her even more. Third, be there for everything. Fathers are essential for the healthy development of a child’s sense of self-worth. Every time you make it to a game, or a recital or just a day in the park, it’s your contribution to their emotional well being. No kid wants an absentee father. Fourth, work hard at everything. Show your kids what it means to be a responsible adult. Help your neighbors and volunteer in the community, so your kids can see you making a difference for others. They want to have a dad they can be proud of and one who lives a life of significance. Fifth, practice forgiveness. Don’t internalize the pains that come with life. Failures are the best way to show kids how to cope and what to do next. They watch everything you do and your reaction is going to be their model for their own behavior. The better you cope with tragedy and failure, the better they will be able to cope with problems too.
I’m not an expert on parenting. I still learn new things every day, especially with the troubled kids I deal with in foster care. What I know for sure is this, good fathers are ridiculously important to children. We’re the guardian, the guide, the leader, the decision-maker, the medic, the coach and the confidant for our children and they need us to be great. I think my son will be a tremendous father and the fact that he volunteered to do that job for little Verity, means she has a dad who chose her to be his daughter. When she’s old enough to understand what that means, she will feel honored I’m sure. I’m honored right now to call him my son and Verity gets to have me as one of her grandfathers. How much better can Father’s Day get?
Now I have to spend the rest of the day with a couple of troubled teenage girls. At least today I have the satisfaction of knowing that one little girl is being taken care of by my son. This is his first Father’s Day and I hope he learns to appreciate every child as much as I do. Happy Father’s Day to all who have earned that title. We’re all blessed to have you.
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