Fathers, Mothers, Teachers, and More

By Mike Lavelle

In this issue, we recognize the valedictorians and salutatorians from our area schools. If time and space allowed, I suspect we could hear stories of how parents, teachers, and others, played significant roles in the lives of these, and all our graduating, students. It is an exciting time of life for them as they leave home and begin to prepare for their careers, and much thanks goes to the men and women who have been role models and those unnamed individuals who have been motherly and fatherly to them.

This June 16th, we celebrate Father’s Day. Erma Bombeck writes that her father died when she was young, and she wasn’t sure what fathers actually did. When she got married, he noted that her husband “rarely fed them, did anything about their sagging diapers, wiped their noses or fannies, played ball, or bonded with them under the hoods of their cars.” She writes that what he did do was “throw them higher than his head until they were weak from laughter.  He cast the deciding vote on the puppy debate.  He listened more than he talked.  He let them make mistakes.  He allowed them to fall from their first two-wheeler without having a heart attack. He read a newspaper while they were trying to parallel park a car for the first time in preparation for their driving test.” Erma Bombeck, Field Enterprises.

These are very specific instances from her own background, but I suspect that many of us had fathers who were involved, just differently than our mothers. Perhaps it is teaching your children how to drive a car with a stick shift or change a tire, how to swap out a hard drive, how to defend yourself, or how to make a killer pizza!

Erma Bombeck concludes her story by noting that the most important thing about a father is someone who is involved and one who helps his children, along with his wife, to learn how to handle adversity, anger, disappointment and success. I contrast this sense of fatherly responsibility with Hemmingway’s reported rule on how to be a successful father.  He said there’s one absolute rule: when you have a kid, don’t look at it for the first two years.”  Roland Warren, president of the National Fatherhood Initiative, writes that, “Infants and toddlers with involved fathers display better cognitive and motor development, are better problem solvers, are better adapted to their peers, and are more sociable than those without involved fathers.

Fathers can play an important role in the lives of their children. This Father’s Day, let us celebrate their role and why not give your dad a call, if you can – he will appreciate it.

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Lucretia Free