Super Dad to Save the DayCredit: Wikimedia
It is funny how as you get older parents never have to say "I told you so" because we have the fortune of figuring out how right they were. Every time a large mistake or life lesson happens there is a lecture that springs in your mind as a person realizes what their parents were talking about. My old man's birthday was the 7th of this month and mine is the 18. With our birthday's sharing such a close gap of time it often triggers reflection. I will turn 25 this year and despite several setbacks am still quite happy with the results of life and could not be more grateful to the big guy. Upon said reflection I realized that my dad had only gotten better as time passed and he was pretty great to start with. What made this happen is life experience combined with a little adjustments he made for his family. Please consider these experiences an opportunity to inspire fathers to grow from great to best.
Father's take a responsibility to give, protect, support, defend, trust, and love their child. The greatest thing my old man did growing up was saying, "I love you." Each member of the family said, "I love you" everyday and while each of us knew that we loved each other hearing it can make everything better, no matter the situation or pain. These simple words remind us we are never alone and have family to have our back. Often there are stereotypes that fathers should not or cannot say out load that they love those closest to them, do too some macho sign of weakness or the fear of vulnerability. My counter to that is even when it does feel uncomfortable or we take the risk of opening our heart to other people. This act is the most courageous thing in the world because we take that risk on to trust the people around us. Try it and see if you do not get an immediate positive reaction out of any of your family.
Dads have the arduous task of filling many roles at the same time. Policing their kids to behave is something my dad did 24/7 ensuring we behaved appropriately. (She started every fight I was just the victim defending myself, it is the truth. Not buying it, neither did my dad.) Playing doctor for every circumstance and providing the medical supplies and doctors is no easy feat. Furthermore a dad must discern what strategy to use if we were actually sick. He was on the mark about 90% of the time. The list goes on to everything from guidance counselor to shrink and a hundred other roles. My dad lived up to them all though he had back up with my mom and together they pulled the hardest job on Earth with no payment at all, the best parents do.
Through my childhood my dad had several iron clad rules that set the structure in our home. The first was if you started something you finished it weather homework, sports, or club projects. He did not care if we did it the next year but he did make us stick it out and never allowed us to quit. Next was chores; feeding cows, horses, mowing the yard, cleaning our rooms and the kitchen. A great way to understand responsibility and the simple understanding that if we did our chores we got paid and if we did not we made no money. Honesty was the rule that my dad got angry about the most. When we lied and he found out especially if it was something pointless he quickly got angry. We learned that lies stack and become so big it becomes impossible to keep them organized and the truth comes out anyway. Dad is a tough but fair guy who believed the punishment fit the crime. He was the parent we did not want to anger due to his punishments or lectures. Dad was not always the quietest guy and always vocalized his disappointment but never had to resort to physical punishment except a few times when we were young. He was smart and made us write 1000 times or just straight guilt (that was the worst.) However that fear kept us in line and through high school my parents did not worry about drugs, alcohol, kids, or dropouts and in return my sister and I got tremendous freedom because our parents trusted us. It was a dynamic that carried through college and continues today.
Setting an Impossible ExampleCredit: dc
The example my dad sets it hard to follow, (I know first hand because I have tried) he has worked 70 plus hour weeks for the last thirty years taking care of his family. Modest and the hardest working guy I know, if a job was not done right you did it again until it was complete. Willing to spoil but always with a lesson involved. He holds people to their word and expects quality no matter how hard the job. He managed all of this even traveling three to four days a week. A perk with all his traveling was the family trips. Each provided some of the best times of my life and valuable lessons for appreciation for the life provided for me through my parents. Despite a travel heavy career my dad made his presence count. When home family and church activities were his priority and it always made me feel better knowing he had my back. Despite having more than enough money to thrive we learned;
- value of hard work
- keeping your integrity in tact
- never lie
- knowing what you have vs what you want
- attaining what you want is hard, so plan, act, and take it
- what is right is not always what is popular
- the act of sharing whether knowledge or material wealth aids in personal growth
- never stop improving
- importance of family
What made my dad the best was all these things taking shape through my life and never faltering on his responsibility to uphold them. As a father he answered a calling that takes responsibility to levels beyond the scope of what single men can see. Hearing how my dad describes holding me for the first time. A sense of pride when he grasps my shoulder. The catharsis that comes when a parent learns life is not just about them anymore. All bring a type of focus that points to what the most important parts of life are for a father. Every parent stumbles through the process. No child comes with a how to guide and even with the thousand books out their dads just have to wade through whatever waters come their way. What makes a dad the best is never trying to stop being a better father. My dad is far from perfect but never once did he quit or stop trying to improve upon raising his kids and there were times he would was at leaving my sister and I at a zoo. Through his dedication and moral center I have grown into a capable man and stronger than I ever thought possible. No matter the accomplishment or honors received there will be one man thanked about all others, Charles Dennis Hayden, my father.
As time passed my dad has mellowed a lot but his kids are out of the house and he has managed to relax. Even so he never stops supporting if we need the help. Always the father I guess, still even at 25 it still feels great knowing he is there. paving the way for his family and setting the example for us all. No matter the trials or challenges awaiting me he is still there holding me up and pushing me forward even if I am a little slow to get up in the morning. Just remember that kids just like anyone else appreciate the effort. As long as a father is giving their all most kids will recognize what they have from their parents. As for the fathers who feel it is too late to act or aid their child remember the only permanent part of life is death and would you not rather take the hits if the result is finding your child again then do nothing at all? Fathering is not easy, for those that hear the calling and live the dedication will know what it means to improve and grow into the best father possible.