celebrating dads

One of the things I wish we were better at as a society is learning to celebrate “A” without feeling the need to oppress “B.” We fail to recognize they aren’t two sides of the same coin, so-to-speak. We don’t have to put down one in order to elevate another. We do it in all sorts of categories, every demographic, even all the way down to whether my kid or your kid is named the starting shortstop. (As one who does not believe in finite opportunity, believe me, I will always celebrate if your kid is named to the priority infield position. It’s no knock on my kid; it’s high praise of yours.)

We do this with age, income, ethnicity and more. We do this with gender. Friends, we don’t have to put down men or women to elevate women or men. They aren’t in competition with one another. It’s ok to celebrate one, both, or one at a time. 

So today, for the one-hundred and twelfth time, our country celebrates our dads on the third Sunday in June. So I decided to ask the kids of the dads in my life: What makes someone a good dad? Or what character attributes help them be good at that?

My siblings, sons, nieces and nephews had a few things to say…

“A good dad provides both affection and authority.”

“A good dad challenges you in a compassionate way. He pushes you to become a better version of yourself because he wants what’s best for you.”

“I’ve always thought of my dad as the one I’d make my first phone call to. If it was great news, I wanted to tell him; I knew he’d be proud of me. If it was bad news — a wreck, jail, etc. — well, I knew he’d come help me — no judgment — but would also remind me lovingly but firmly of the need to grow.”

“Dads model our heavenly Father, who provides what we need. Sometimes it’s grace and understanding. Sometimes it’s tough love. Sometimes it’s nothing at all, not substituting their experience for their child’s.”

“I’ve never appreciated those who say, ‘My dad was tough’ or any other attribute. That forces the child to adjust to the dad rather than the other way around.”

“Most of all, loving. We all need our father’s approval.”

“It’s a simultaneous strength/compassion trait amidst dire family-related situations. Knowing when and where to use each is only something you really learn on the fly. I can’t speak on it because of my lack of experience, but my cultural interpretation of this is that oftentimes, this two-sided parameter is skewed far too much in one direction, leading to non-optimal mental/physical development of their children.”

“Love, support and adaptation. Most dads show love by acts of service without accepting any kind of thanks. Support can mean anything from checking in to helping out with your car maintenance or by going to games, shows, etc. An adaptive dad accepts their child when they grow in ways they didn’t necessarily expect and loves them just the same.”

“Discipline. Love is not affirming what they do simply to provide encouragement, but correcting their actions so they learn. Without a willingness to do so, they will not grow or mature, and neglecting discipline is thus akin to abandonment. Patience is an important attribute.”

“Kindness. Compassion. I can come to him with anything and he doesn’t pass judgment. He listens and works to understand. I know he will always be there for me, no matter what.”

“Caring. Supportive. Even through the hard times, my dad never stopped supporting whatever I was looking to do.”

“An involved dad. Someone who teaches right from wrong with patience and perseverance and is part of that learning process. He loves unconditionally and corrects wrongs out of love and care, which creates respect from the child and helps them understand they may have messed up, but they are still loved and not defeated.”

“My dad has always been there for me and accepted me for me. He was never much of a grill master or very car-savvy, but I have a lot of fond memories with us all being goofy and having fun.” 

“Being a father is somewhat sacrificial. It’s easy to raise your kids according to your own passions. However, as seems to be true with everything, it’s harder to adapt. A good father sacrifices the nature of what he has known for many years to promote the happiness of his children. Easy? Unsurprisingly, no. Hard? Not for the father that cares.”

And one more shout out, from my youngest son, who as he often does, says much with little…

“My dad is my super hero. Very smart, incredible, talented man. When I am down, he helps me. I’m thankful and honored that I am his son.”