Father’s Day takes on a whole new meaning once your kids are grown and out on their own. It’s always great to get together and share the funny stories, the happy memories and how far we’ve all come in such a short time. And it’s so true. The years zoom right on by before you even know it. Enjoy the journey!
It seems like only yesterday, I was asked to speak before a family luncheon regarding my family life and the term Fatherhood. Didn’t comedian Bill Cosby write a book with that title - Fatherhood? He’s much funnier than me, but I’ll relay a little of what I said that day.
It’s important for your children to know that you are their friend. When I opened with that statement, the strict disciplinarians in the audience gave me a groan and a frown. “Spare the switch and spoil the child” is what they really wanted to hear me say. But I think they misunderstood my true intentions and what I meant.
Your children need to have confidence that you are a shelter in the storm, that you won’t always be a critic of their actions but rather a champion in their corner who wants only the best for them. That doesn’t mean you let them get away with being little monsters. However, it does mean that you teach values (right-from-wrong) and how to function in a rather dysfunctional world.
Friends help you get through the setbacks and disappointments in life without being judgmental or overly critical. Friends remind you that your word (doing what you say you’ll do) is important to them and the rest of the world, especially later in a work environment. Friends help teach you the life skills you need to know. A good friend of mine says that includes how to box an exacta at the horse races. You have to be a horseplayer or gambler to understand that one, but he’s correct.
Other things that a good friend should tell you and offer as a friend:
1) It matters less what others think of you than what YOU think of you. The best thing anyone can teach you is self-respect. Life is too short to live in guilt and shame. You are special and you have your gifts to share with the world. You may not see them now, but you will as you get older.
2) Your opinion is just that. It’s one opinion. It’s not the only correct answer. It’s YOUR answer. Or as one mentor told me, “It’s your experience.” Other people see things a different way because of their own personal life experience. So, both you are somewhat correct in that respect.
3) When someone is hurting, offer them your help. You don’t need to understand why they are hurt, but you can change or save their life with even the smallest gesture of kindness.
4) Family is most important. It’s more important than baseball, band, soccer, your friends (who may not even be your friends next year) and certainly more important than fighting with your brothers about something really stupid.
5) When you screw up, you hurt somebody or let them down, say I’m sorry. It won’t fix everything, but it’s a good start.
6) Sometimes it’s okay to cry, even when you’re a boy.
7) Things don’t always go your way, but you make the best of it. It’s not WHAT happens to you, but how you REACT to what happens that makes the difference.
8) Never stop learning. There’s always a better way of doing things, like loading the dishwasher the correct way. Ask your mom for more details on that one.
9) You think you already know everything, but you don’t. I don’t know everything either, but I can lend you my years of experience. Don’t laugh at this, but you can teach me a few things too.
10) I will always love you. Even when you screw up, make mistakes, skin your knee or think everyone is against you. I’m not everyone else, I'm your dad.
Happy Father’s Day! My kids, their families and my wife made it a great one for me this year. May you be just as blessed to find the reason for living and loving every single day.