As Father’s Day approaches I’ve been thinking about what to say this year. I thought back to other times I’ve writtento see if past passages might guide this year’s message. Mostly they’ve encouraged fathers to step up, do their part and have a positive impact on their kids’ lives. Reflecting back, I think focusing on increasing involvement in your family’s lives provided a safe platform to extol the virtues of everything that would follow.
I think this sounds right for new fathers and young fathers with young kids where both parents get mired down in the drudgeries of laundry, carpooling, school projects, outside activities, playdates and that general sense of fatigue and that “oh my gosh, what have we done” feeling. But times change. Kids grow up and while you might be getting more sleep don’t think for a minute that you’re off the hook. In fact the challenges of parenting are now less physical and more emotional and intellectual.
My kids are in their twenties now. They live on their own, feed themselves, drive themselves, bathe and, if forced to, even wash their own clothes. But my job’s not over. Instead of checking to make sure they’re still asleep in their little beds I check my phone each morning to make sure there was no call for help during the night.
Over the years, my responsibilities have changed. Beyond the things they need to know to become self-sufficient adults, it’s imperative that my wife and I have instilled the basic values that will help each of them lead satisfying, happy and fulfilling lives however they may choose to live them. Kindness and respect for others is key. The most basic virtue in our home is treat others as you’d want to be treated. Sounds trite, I know, but with a daughter on campus and a son enjoying the social opportunities of his twenties, parents must ensure their kids understand that respect should be the foundation of any interaction with others.
The responsibility for instilling the values of a healthy and happy life may start with me, but it’s one we all share.