Strength in the love of a father

My father was a strong man. That was part of the problem – he used his strength to force us to obey him. Not sure if I’d call that strength or power. That’s not what a father should be.

Kids need a father to be a leader, guiding them to become the best adults they can be. Scaring them out of childhood doesn’t do it.

So what traits does a good father have? The same things we all need:

  • Forgiveness. All of us do or say things we wish we hadn’t, including Dad. Kids make mistakes and mess up. They need their dads to let them learn and to forgive them when needed, not punish them for spilling milk. And forgiving Mom goes without saying.
  • Acceptance. Not every child will be able to live up to all the expectations thrust on him or her. People are who they are, even though they may need their sharp edges softened a little. Let’s accept each other for what and who they are, even if they’re different from us. And thinking or believing something different is no reason to hate someone
  • Teaching. No matter how old you are or how educated, there is always something to learn. And there’s someone to teach you as long as you remain teachable. Let’s share what we’ve learned with others who have a need or a desire to know. Together, we can become better.
  • Helping. One of the hardest things to learn is when and how to ask for help. But helping is gift we give to others and to ourselves. Helping does not mean doing for someone else, like the third-grader who shows up at a science fair with a life-size working robot. Rather, it means giving them a nudge or assistance to accomplish something, but letting them bask in the accomplishment.
  • Encouragement. Not everyone can be positive all the time. In fact, I dare say that everyone needs encouragement at times. Even that person (like me) with a smile pasted on every day can be hiding sadness, depression, or discouragement. They need may a friend and we can easily become that.
  • Respect. This is something earned, not demanded; given, not taken. When we respect others, we can gain respect from them. Sometimes it’s hard to give someone respect who doesn’t deserve it. But people, especially children, attempt to live up to our expectations, whether good or bad.  

That’s what makes a good father, and a good person:

  • Forgiveness
  • Acceptance
  • Teaching
  • Helping
  • Encouragement, and
  • Respect.

Let’s share those traits with one another, on Father’s Day or any other day of the year.