Fatherhood creates sense of pride, teaches life lessons
Recently I was asked about my proudest achievement in my life and the answer was simple: I am most proud of my family and of being a husband, father and now a grandfather.
No matter what successes you have in life, your family has to be number one. Yes, being a parent is the hardest, most challenging task you face in life, but it also is the most rewarding.
I am sorry that my parents didn’t live long enough to know Jean and our three daughters. I know they would be very proud of their granddaughters. My parents would have nine great-grandchildren – seven boys and two girls. All four girls are well-educated and happily-married women. They would have been thrilled at the success for their seven great-grandsons and two great-granddaughters.
One of the few benefits of getting older is being a grandparent. I would urge you to enjoy your children and grandchildren because they grow up quickly. I look back on the fun I had coaching our daughters in softball and beaming with pride as they reached milestones in life. It only seems like yesterday when I held a small baby daughter for the first time. It was a joyful moment that was repeated twice more during the next five years. Then the cycle started over with a call to The Chieftain office from Jill, our oldest daughter. “Dad, we have a boy,” she said. Suddenly grandchildren became a major part of our lives.
Even though my father has been gone for more than a half century, I still miss him. I think of how thrilled he would be of the accomplishments of the grandchildren. He would have been filled with pride when two became Eagle Scouts, or while watching great-grandsons race 50 yards for a touchdown. He would have marveled at the gymnastics and soccer accomplishments of his great-granddaughters. But most of all he would have been proud of their academic achievements. I’m sorry Jean’s father didn’t live long enough to hunt and fish with three great-grandsons, who are avid outdoor enthusiasts.
Being a parent is tough. We live in a changing world and sometimes adapting to new ways is difficult. We need to remember that we also grew up in a changing world that befuddled our parents. I have no doubt that the next generation will be fine and that they will solve many of the world’s woes. I think today’s youth are better educated, more concerned about social issues than we were. I really believe they will do a better job than we have.
One of most important gifts we can give as parents or grandparents is to provide the next generation with a good example. We can tell them what to do and how to live, but it is more important for them to see us taking the right actions in life. Talking the talk is fine but walking the walk is paramount.
Next, I would urge parents to teach children to be lifelong learners. We have to know how to embrace new technologies because the world is changing rapidly and today’s skills might be obsolete tomorrow.
The most important gift in my opinion is to show children an example of clear and logical thinking. They need to do a better job at looking at both sides of an issue than we do. I could go on and on, but they must forget petty prejudice and learn that we are all equal and to accept every person as a valuable individual.
Finally, if you are a father or grandfather you are lucky and I sincerely hope you have as much fun as I have had.