What My Dad Has Taught (And Continues to Teach) Me

Father’s Day has now passed.  New ties are probably hanging in his closet or a new driver is in his golf bag.  Celebatory meals have been digested, cards given, hugs exchanged.

However, one day seems grossly inadequate to thank someone who has contributed so much, doesn’t it?

One of the reasons why I don’t have children yet (and, trust me, I am asked quite frequently) is because parenting is a challenging job.  Raising the next generation is a difficult task, and one not to be taken lightly.  My parents are amazing people, and I am continually grateful for their leadership and guidance in my life.  My Dad has been a perpetual inspiration.  He  and my mother have modeled for me the Christian walk, pushed me to achieve my goals and dreams, and have loved me unconditionally.  I may be chided for being sentimental, but I will gladly endure it for a man who richly deserves it.

In honor of Father’s Day, I want to identify how my father has influenced me:

1. He Has Shown Me That True Character Is Illustrated at Home.

Transparency is something I admire in people, namely because of my Dad.  My father is the same at home as anywhere else.  This authenticity is rare.  I aspire to be transparent as much as possible because such honesty is a virtue.  Those who know him will attest to his genuine character, his warm and congenial nature, and his gentle spirit.

 2. He “Postures” Responsbility and the Christian Walk

This, I believe, is one of the most prominent responsibilities of parenting.  Children learn the posture of life from parents.  In my years of teaching, I have seen children choose two distinct paths: 1) to follow in the footsteps of their parents (in both good and bad aspects) or 2) to develop into the complete opposite of what their parents are.  Of course, I am discussing teenagers here, not adults.  If you study successful adults, you will see that they succeed BECAUSE of their circumstances or DESPITE their circumstances.  Good behavior is established first in the home.  I will not delve into any nature versus nurture arguments, but I do believe that a healthy environment creates a conducive arena for reinforcing good behaviors. I had a fantastic one, thanks to the leadership of my Dad and his Biblical guidance by my Heavenly Father.

3. He is Selfless and Possesses Compassion for Others

My father is the most selfless man I have ever met.  You may argue that I’m biased, but it’s true.  For his birthday and Christmas gifts, he usually asks for work clothes or something practical.  As an adult, I refuse to do this, but insist on buying him something he will enjoy.  I cannot, in one simple blog post, explain thoroughly all of the ways that he has loved and cared for me over the years.  He and my Mom have cheered me on at nearly everything I have even done (even as an adult).  He was my baseball coach, has watched me graduate four times, and has been in the audience for almost every singing engagement I have ever had.  By the way, my Dad is an excellent bass singer and has sung in various gospel groups over the year.  My love of music stems from early memories of seeing my father warble on stage.

As an adult, I have often asked myself, “How would Dad handle this?” When I was a child, I remember Dad stopping on the side of the road to help stranded strangers or spending copious amounts of time after a long workday assisting others.  I count it a great privilege to be able to call and ask his advice, to benefit from his knowledge and wisdom.

This compassion also extends to animals.  I possess a strong desire to help animals and be an advocate for animal rights.  My parents always allowed me to have a pet (when I was of appropriate age) and taught me how to be a good steward of things with which God has entrusted me.

4. He Reinforced My Work Ethic

My Dad is a hard worker.  He maximizes so much of his time by being productive.  He doesn’t watch much television, but spends his time giving to others and working on projects as a hobby.  My insatiable work ethic, I am certain, is hard-coded into my DNA.  My parents taught me that, in whatever I endeavor, always give 110%.  This advice has served me well in my adult life.

5. He (Along with My Mom) Encouraged Me to Love Education

My parents never attended college, but you wouldn’t have known it in our home.  My parents, nearly from infancy, insisted that I go to college.  They pushed me to make good grades and to desire academic success. They always helped me with homework, which unfortunately included hours of algebraic equations.  Certainly there is a badge or award for parents who endure so much yucky homework for the sake of their child’s welfare!

6. He  and my Mom Modeled a Healthy, Loving Marriage

My parents just celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary.  How many people can boast such an accomplishment?  After 38 years (they dated for three), they are still crazy in love with each other.  They still hold hands.  My Dad had heart surgery in 2009 and my Mom beat breast cancer last year.  Through these tumultuous times, they clung to God and to each other.  As a child, I erroneously assumed everyone had a home life like mine.  Teaching has sobered me to the hard realities of life and made me realize what a privilege it was to have two loving parents.

Also, my father taught me how a man should love, respect, defend, and ultimately treat a woman.  I truly believe I have a good marriage (almost 12 years) because my parents modeled for me what a “good marriage” is.  He made me feel like I was the most important little girl in the world so I would go on to marry a man who believes I am the most important woman in the world.  By illustrating how to establish a household full of love, he has secured for me the perpetuity of a stable home life.  For this, I am forever grateful.

There are many others, but I will pause here.  If you are still blessed enough to have your father, call him and talk.  Even if you have past resentments or difficult feelings you still harbor, understand what a privilege it is to still have him.  Thank him for what he has done.

Happy Father’s Day (belated) to all fathers!