Four Lessons Learned from a Wonderful Father

Wisdom has an opportunity to burrow itself deepest into our hearts during tough times. It’s through such fire that true character is developed. It’s also during such spots that our kids are probably watching us the closest. How’s Dad going to react to this one? they wonder.
 
During my lifetime, I’ve had the opportunity to hear many stories of wonderful fatherhood, few of which have to do with dads stringing together lots of wise words. Rather, the majority involved modeling great character messages during times of adversity. Here are four of the most important:
 
My love for you is permanent and impervious.
 
My father was the proud owner of a brand new car. This being the one and only vehicle he’d owned with less than 100,000 miles and paint that shined. He always tucked it safely in the garage upon return from work each evening.
 
One day after school, as if controlled by itself, my bike accelerated into the garage, smashing rather violently into a shelving unit. The shelves teetered, tottered, and eventually spilled their assortment of heavy hand tools onto the hood of that new Chrysler. I was okay. The car was not.
 
While I spent many hours making restitution for this blunder, I never found myself wondering how I stood in my father’s eyes. This has held constant over my lifetime, even when my mistakes were far harder to take than a scratched auto.
 
I love you enough to keep my promises.
 
A loving father would never promise his child an outing for ice cream unless he was absolutely certain he could provide it. Neither would he set a limit without being one hundred percent sure he could enforce it.
 
Are limits promises? When kept, do they show that we love our kids enough to keep them safe and show them how to live peaceful and productive lives? “My dad’s word was always gold,” a young dad shared during one of our trainings. “He didn’t have many rules for us, but the ones he provided he always backed with action.”
 
Mastering my anger, I will show you how to be a strong man.
 
I struggle with this one the most. Even knowing Love and Logic inside out, I sometimes find myself too quickly riled by small things done by my kids, other family members, fellow drivers, and electronic devices. Perhaps the first step in mastering any problem is to admit that you have it. It’s an old idea, but it’s a good one.
 
A mentor of mine, gray haired and wise, shared a nugget of wisdom: “Be a teapot not a pressure cooker.”
 
Teapots admit their feelings and vent some steam. Pressure cookers look fairly calm, then they explode.
 
There are times when it’s really healthy to say to a child, “I’m really angry about this. I’m going to have to do something about it. We’ll talk later. I make better decisions when I’m calm.”
 
Search for humility.
 
When we place ourselves too high, we have a long way to fall. Possibly the greatest challenge facing our society are the messages sent to youth about self versus others. In various ways, too many young people are being convinced that showing off is more important than showing consideration and respect.
 
Humility is a tricky beast. When we think we have it, we are probably falling into the ironic trap of feeling a bit superior about being humble. How deceptive it can be. That’s why the greatest men never consider themselves to have found humility. They just keep searching, and thus showing their children what it truly looks like.
 
On this Father’s Day we honor great dads. We celebrate those brave men who choose each and every day to give these gifts to their children… even though they may not have received them from their own dads. We also remember that none of us are perfect and that focusing too much on our shortcomings usually causes us to repeat them. To all of the dads who are oftentimes too hard on themselves: Remember to show yourself the same kindness and forgiveness that a loving father shows his children.
 
Dr. Charles Fay