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Fatherhood: Being A Dad

Father's Day was inaugurated in the United States in the early 20th Century to complement Mother's Day. It is now celebrated throughout most of the world.

For Father's Day 2015, I penned these thoughts:

It begins when your child-to-be is still a lightly-formed, growing piece of protoplasm. It's a feeling of anxiousness, protectiveness and fondness, which quickly grows into love. Until they become parents, your children - regardless of their age - cannot understand the phrase "I loved you before you were born." But it is as true as it is mysterious.

Stephen F. Hayes, columnist for The Weekly Standard and contributor to the book, 'The Dadly Virtues: Adventures from the Worst Job You'll Ever Love', wrote, "Fatherhood is the most important job a man can have and yet we're all completely unqualified for it until we do it."

Becoming a father changes your life; a once-carefree young man must now become a provider, a teacher, a role model and a part of the development process of a new life. You must prepare to assume the roles of counselor, adviser, disciplinarian and protector. But it's not so daunting a task; you'll find that if you really try to be a caring and attentive dad, your children will meet you halfway. Watching your kids grow and develop is fun and satisfying. And often provides moments of genuine, soul-rattling awe, such as when I held my children for the first time.

I was blessed with a great dad who became my role model - his example helped me to be a better father. Being a father is a blessing and a privilege. Not all men are able to have children, so fatherhood is truly a gift to be cherished.

One disconcerting aspect of child-rearing is the day you wake up and find that your children are better/smarter than you. I alluded to this during my 'Parenting Speech' given at my daughter's wedding.

By the time my kids reached their teens, they could do things that I couldn't. They became surprisingly skilled and talented. At first, I found this development disturbing, but then I said to myself, "Hey, dummy, this is what you've wished for. You wanted your children to be better than you. And now, you've helped make it happen."

Age no longer has the value of rarity. In 1790, Americans aged sixty-five or older constituted less than 2% of the population; today they are 14%, so there are lots of old fathers and grandfathers walking - or shuffling - around. Elders once had an exclusive hold on knowledge and wisdom and their advice was often sought.

Fast-paced social and technological changes have eroded the need for elder advice. Remembering old area codes and knowing how to thread a movie projector mean nothing to new generations. Technology creates new occupations and requires new expertise, which further undermines the value of experience and old knowledge. "See the building for that tech company? It used to be a farm with a big red barn. And, when I was a kid, the trolley line ran by right over there."

Nonetheless, seasoned judgement still counts for something and the fundamental things still apply, as Herman Hupfeld's 'As Time Goes By' proclaims. From time to time, my children still seek my counsel and I'm glad I can still be of help.

Your children grow up and have kids of their own but you never stop being a father. Your kids remain in your dreams, hopes, thoughts and prayers - for as long as you can draw a breath. And maybe even beyond - I have felt the hand of my own father guiding me even after he was gone from this earth.

As I review my almost seventy-two years of life experience, I realize that fatherhood has been my greatest source of achievement, pride and inspiration. I'm sure other dads feel the same way.

May God bless all dads on this Father's Day. (posted 6/21/15)

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