Growing up, I was one of the lucky ones. My dad coached my Little League teams and ate dinner with us every night. He was present and involved; making every effort to be the type of father he did not have himself. As a child, I knew he was a good dad, but it was not until I became a parent that I realized how much his presence impacted my own parenting philosophies.
When I would complain about my jobs as a young adult, he would often say, "Work isn't supposed to be fun. You work so you are able to enjoy life with the people you love." Until I had children of my own, I could not fully understand the significance of that statement. Thank you for teaching me that being a good parent means being present, patient and involved. In honor of Father's Day, I want to thank my dad for taking the time to teach me many important life lessons, even if I rolled my eyes at the time.
Here are a few of his most valuable life lessons.
1. Things are never as bad as they seem, things are never as good as they seem.
This phrase was said often as I became a young adult; when I got a bad grade, got rejected from a college or got a great job offer. To many of us, situations seem only amazing or awful. My dad never jumped to extremes and spent time and effort teaching me that I could do the same. In other words, he taught me to chill out.
2. Wait a few days before making any important decision.
I am impulsive by nature. I like to make decisions quickly. My dad is not driven by that same "need to make a decision right this second" impulse. He always made me let things simmer. Most important decisions deserve a few days.
3. You can add value without being the best.
My dad wished for children that were good athletes. Unfortunately, my brother and I were not. My dad was the coach of my Little League team and I was one of the worst players. Instead of sticking me in outfield to chase butterflies or putting me in a position I wasn't qualified for, he put me as catcher, where I could I be part of the infield but still feel OK dropping the ball now and then. I learned to contribute and succeed in my own way. Being a successful member of a team or group means figuring out where you add value.
4. Parents do not need to agree with all their kids' decisions; they need to support them.
I transferred colleges and changed careers after turning 30. As a man who likes to be prepared and secure, my dad was incredibly nervous. He did not agree with some of my decisions, but always told me that whatever I chose, my parents were behind me. Looking back, I realized I felt confident to make those changes because of the support I had. Be your child's biggest cheerleader, even when their choice wouldn't necessarily be your choice (legality permitting).
Read the next 5 lessons on The Good Men Project.