I come from a family of five children. We are all very different, so it didn't surprise me that we would each come up with a different reason we think our dad is a good dad, and yet I could relate to every single thing they said. When I polled my siblings, the memories flooded me like a comforting blanket as I nodded and agreed with all the things they shared.
Dad, you are a good dad. And because you are who you are -- humble and never able to see your true worth -- I know you won't think you are deserving of what we want to share with the world. You taught us so much and it's these lessons that give us direction for those who strive to be, gave us the standard in who we looked for in a spouse and the model of how we hope to parent our own children. Happy Father's Day, Dad. Love, your five children.
A Dad's Gift: Five Life Lessons for His Five Children
1. Always tell the truth -- with respect and kindness.
My mom is Catholic and my dad, well, he isn't religious at all. He respected my mom's faith and would go to church with us, but he never became a Catholic. Yet he never spoke badly of religion or God. He has a vast knowledge of the Bible because of his own Pentecostal upbringing. We loved to question him about it because he could retell it in ways we could understand. And yet when the day came and we asked: Dad, do you believe in God? He paused. Not to construct a lie, but to frame his words just so. In his careful way, he explained that he believed something out there was bigger than us but what it was, he couldn't say. We knew that no matter what we asked, he would tell us the truth -- even if that truth could hurt our feelings. But he said it in such a way to protect our feelings as much as possible. And that is how he always spoke to us- - truthful and kind.
2. Choose your words carefully.
Dad was the silent type. But when he spoke, we listened. Because we knew he had something important to say. Whether it was a story from his childhood or an important lesson he wanted us to learn -- but it was never idle talk of gossip or mean jokes about others. He taught us words can tear you down or lift you up. I remember a time I shouted at my big sister: I hate you! He pulled me aside and looked 7-year-old-me in the eyes to explain hate was a strong word, a word I couldn't possibly mean to describe a person I love. It was then I learned just how powerful words can be. I learned from my dad to only speak kindly and truthfully and to use my words to share something important. It's why I choose to walk away and not contribute to people who gossip about others -- sometimes, silence really is golden.
3. Be there for your family.
He was always there for us. Always. He was there for us when we were young children and were hanging on his every word and when we drifted away as teenagers, not wanting to hang around dad, we knew he was there for us when we needed him. Even now, all five of his children are scattered throughout the country and if we need family support, we know he will hop in the car, plane or train to get to us if we need him. There is no doubt in our minds that a good dad is a dad who is there for his family, forever and always.
4. Have a servant's heart for your spouse.
My parents have been married 39 years. They modeled to us a relationship where both seemed to find joy in serving the other, from my dad leaving love notes for my mom, to rubbing her feet or making her favorite meal. There was never a scorecard of "what have you done for me"; instead, my parents seemed to genuinely want to put each other's happiness first. It was the servant's heart that they have for each other that makes their relationship strong -- with each putting each other first, neither ever seemed to be resentful or bitter. Instead, we have seen 39 years of love and support.
5. Never stop learning.
He always had an answer for every question. My dad was always reading a book -- from fiction to non-fiction, science fiction and current events. It made me curious and wonder what could capture his attention for so long and so intently. We could ask him a question about space or religion or anything in between and he had an answer for us -- because of his love of reading. He taught us knowledge comes from the desire to learn and that you are never too old to stop learning and growing.
The life lessons my dad taught us are true gifts. I'm thankful my own husband embodies many of the same traits I see in my dad -- both men are good fathers and deserving of the happiest of Father's Days.