Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

We are in an age where absent Fathers are the norm, not the exception.  In a country where 50% of couples who get married are doomed to divorce, more and more children are being raised by a single mother.  Fathers disappear, either lost in work, a new relationship, or simply through abandonment.  Even the President of the United States was raised by a single mother.  This has become a regular event for us.  Still, America has not forgotten the value of the Father.  We know the importance of Dads and we recognize that we need to find a solution to the issue.
Personally, I have a hard time understanding what it would be like growing up without a Father.  My brothers and I are lucky enough to have parents who are still together and who are still active in our lives.  While my Dad was incredibly busy providing for our family as I grew up, he still made time to support us kids in everything we did.  Evenings and weekends were devoted to us and to the family.  If we were involved in sports, he was there as a coach, if we were involved in boy scouts, he was there as a sponsor, if he couldn’t be involved as a leader, he was a fan, shouting his encouragement from the sidelines, or enthusiastically applauding from his seat.
Even though none of us live at home anymore, he still
gets to be Dad to Prissy.  BTW, he isn't really a Patriots fan.
As for many people, my Dad has been one of the biggest influences on my life.  He taught me the benefits of being able to work with a team, how to support others when they needed it, how to take criticism when I needed it, and how to combine your strengths to build the best possible product.  My Dad also showed me how to be strong when necessary and when to be soft.  He taught me how to stand up for my convictions when they are being challenged and how to admit when I am wrong.  He showed me how to apologize when necessary and when to forgive.  He shaped me into the man I am today.
While I don’t have children yet, I have certainly seen evidence of my Dad’s influence in my teaching and in my personal life.  I can’t help but smile at those moments when I hear my Dad’s voice come from my mouth, saying something he would have said, doing something he would have done, or simply just sounding like him. Because of his guidance, I know when to push a student who can go farther than they allow themselves, or I know when to back off because I have pushed too much.  I hold myself to a high standard because I know he would.  I do the same with my students.
Dad taught us the importance of having good looking
calves.  I guess I didn't listen to that lesson.
I am proud of my Dad for being such a good Father.  Being the oldest of three, with my youngest brother eleven years younger than me, I was able to watch him continue to grow as a Father as I attempted to tackle the world on my own.  I watched him learn which battles to fight and which to let go.  I watched him adjust his parenting skills to deal with our three different personalities.  I watched how children help make you grow as a person.
Besides instilling individual strengths in me, my Dad has also shown me how to grow a happy marriage.  From him I have learned how to be a loving spouse and supportive husband.  As I have grown into adulthood, I have learned from my Dad that relationships are worked on constantly.  He taught me about give and take, about the respectful and loving exchange of ideas and values as you and your partner merge your lives.  I have watched my parents grow in their relationship and am excited about following in the same path.  I know I will have to grow and learn, and that I will make mistakes, but I have been given a set of tools that will help me along the way.
Being a Father to your children is the most important job a man has.  Sure, you have to provide for them, you have to pay the bills and put food on the table, but more importantly, you have to teach them about the world and how they should interact with it.  You have to show them how to be a good person, how to love and respect other people, and how to grow yourself.  You have one of the most important jobs in the world and it isn’t your career - it is your family. 
For those of you like me who don’t have children, be as strong an example of what it means to be a man to those young people around you.  You never know when one of them might come from a home with an absent father.  Your influence might be the difference in their life.

Thank you to all the Fathers out there for your efforts.  You are making the world a better place, one child at a time.  Thank you to my Dad for being such a great Pop.  I would not be the man I am today without you.  I love you and respect what you have done for me and our family.
Happy Fathers Day!

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