This morning, I spend father’s day shopping with my daughter for a coffee maker for her dorm room, getting the car she drives alignment done and providing support with my other daughter worried about her dog that might have gotten bit by a snake. During that time, I was able to teach my youngest two valuable lessons in the few hours, I had with her before she went to spend the afternoon with her friends and provide a open ear to my other daughter while she drove her dog to the vet.
Lets face it, at that age a teenager’s main priority is hanging with friends their own age. They are ready to spread their wings, get out of the nest, and explore being independent. So what lessons did I teach her? This morning, it was about financial budgeting while being a college student and the importance of having a car in good working order for safety. At the auto repair shop, I had her drive the car to the shop and get an alignment redone. I met up with her before the car was finished to make sure everything was done right. She was able learned about tire pressures, electronic rack and pinion, how to read the computer printout they give you to show the car is aligned and if the car is not handling right, it can be dangerous. She also had a taste of dealing with mechanics and shop owner/managers.
The next lesson started with the cost of coffee. I asked her what kind of coffee maker do you want? She said a Kerigig. I said that is fine but since you are going to be a broke college student, lets compare K-Cups to Regular bags of coffee and I let you make that decision. In the end she decided to get a regular coffee maker.
She also reminded me of one of my failures as a father, like the time she went to work at the famous breakfast place you see along our nation’s interstate highways and she did not not know how to make coffee the regular way.
We always had a Kerigig. It did not dawn on me that we had one for that long and I never taught her how to make a regular pot of coffee. It was not my only time, I messed up as a father.
You do not have to be perfect or lecture 24-7. Just make the effort to get engaged and spend time with your kids. A situation will present itself where you can impose wisdom without being overbearing. When you have those discussions, I believe it is important to be honest in your opinion and how you feel about any situation. Sometimes the best you can do is listen, because some things are beyond your control for the example of a dog and a possible snake bit that occurs three states away. I am happy to report at this time, my oldest daughter’s dog is not showing any symptoms of snake bit, but the vet is keeping a close eye on him.
I read an opinion piece by J. Warner Wallace this afternoon about how fewer Americans are celebrating Father’s Day because more kids are growing up without fathers. A U.S. Census Bureau study showed that the percentage of children living in single-parent households increased from 12 percent in 1960 to 31 percent in 2016. During that same time-frame, “the percentage of children living with only their mother nearly tripled.”
Detective Wallace was assigned to the gang unit in Los Angeles County. I can attest as most police officers will agree that “lack of dad” as Detective Wallace would describe it was the one thing that most gang members would have in common whether it was because the father was incarcerated, an alcoholic, or just un-involved.
Detective Wallace would repeatedly observed the same shared attributes in gang members: They were struggling to find direction or establish a moral compass, largely because they didn’t have a father at home to model what it meant to be a man – or to be loved by one.
Dads who worked obsessively and who are paying their children little attention can be just as bad. I have been guilty of this on many occasions.
Detective Wallace stated that Fathers are essential to boys and girls. Studies have shown children who are raised with involved fathers are less likely to struggle academically, repeat a grade, get expelled or suspended from school, and get pregnant as teenage girls. Children with involved fathers are more likely to attend college, get a good job and stay out of jail. Studies also show that kids raised without involved fathers are more likely to live in poverty, be abused or neglected, use drugs or alcohol and commit crimes. Kids aren’t the only who benefit from engaged dads. Fatherhood also benefits fathers. Fatherhood increase one’s competence in a number of important areas of character development, including the formation of patience, humility and selflessness.
Happy Father’s Day to all those fathers out there. Get out there, be engaged, and establish that moral compass. Take inventory of yourself and do the best you can do. This nation needs fathers out there to both model good behavior for their children, model manliness for boys and model what is is to be a good man for girls. Just spending that little bit of time will help mentor them into strong men and women. For those fathers deployed in defense of our country, it is important to make time to write and call your children while you are away. Stay engaged. Remember, it is a team effort. Do not forget all the hardworking moms out there as well. I am hopefully for a a renewed eagerness for the holiday and a renewed understanding for the role of fathers.