It's no doubt that Father's Day takes a backseat to Mother's Day when it comes to the commercialism of the holidays. The National Retail Federation forecasted that spending for Mother's Day was expected to reach $21 billion, yes billion, dollars. Compare that to almost $13 billion in spending for dad. Still a big figure, but an $8 billion dollar gap. When you look at the per shopper spend, the average for Mother's Day is a hefty $172 compared to $115 for dads. But as a father myself, I know these figures mean little to me since the value is more than just retail numbers.
As a teen I must admit that at times my dad and I never saw eye to eye. He was the disciplinarian and had the uncanny ability to perfect the stare; you know the one I'm referring. If I was doing something wrong he'd just look at me and I knew to stop. I've tried this a few times with my children, but never quite with the same results.
I questioned his decisions especially when I got a no and disliked the pressure and demands he put on me. Sounds like any other teen/parent relationship. However looking back, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I deducted that my father saw the potential in me, his oldest child, and wanted to be sure I reached it. He never verbalized that, but I knew his intent. Now, I find myself at times doing the very same to my 18 year old daughter and 14 year old son.
My dad always had catchy Italian sayings to get his point across. My favorite was when I wanted to stay out late he would tell me "the night is for the wolves." Somehow it always sounded better in Italian.
It wasn't until I was married did I truly understand and appreciate the lessons my dad taught me. He taught me basic tenets and expectations which had a huge impact on the person I have become which included:
Respect Everyone: My dad came to the U.S. from Sicily when he was 15 years old. He faced prejudice. But rather than hardening him, it left an indelible mark to treat others with respect no matter the color of one's skin, their ethnicity, etc. This provided me the foundation which has been so critical in my career. In my role, I am working with people of all nationalities and cultures and I do so in a non-judgmental manner.
Be Spiritual: Being a devout Roman Catholic, my father taught me to always trust that things would be taken care of. His morning routine would always include a prayer before heading out the door. He taught me to trust in God that things would always be taken care of.
Save for a Rainy Day: My father knew poverty in Sicily. He had lost a brother who died by the age of one from malnutrition. This left an indelible mark on him. He taught me that no matter how much I was earning to always make sure I was saving as well.
Be Humble: My father was always thinking of others. I remember my dad always being called on from his aunts or uncles in crisis. These calls almost always came at night and without fail my father was always there. He served others, and still does. Not once did I ever hear my dad get frustrated or say no. He was, and is, always there for others.
Be Ethical: As I got older and starting working for the first time, I remember my dad on more than one occasion imparting his words of wisdom, "No matter what you do for a living, make sure you are able to sleep at night." How true. He saw examples of people, who despite their success had no peace of mind. He wanted his children to do the right thing.
So as we approach Father's Day, I want to thank my dad Antonio for instilling in me these solid principles which have made me who I am today and which has helped shaped me into the dad and role model my two children can be proud of.
Happy Father's Day!