My View: Thanks, Dad, for the no-nonsense approach
Growing up I never went to my dad for empathy – I learned quickly that my mom was the one who handled that aspect of my upbringing.
My dad would tell me exactly how he saw things, and not sugar-coat anything, so he was the last person I sought when I needed warm and fuzzy support from a parent.
When I started playing high school sports, my parents made it a point to never miss any of my volleyball or basketball games. I loved my parents attending all my games, but I dreaded talking to my father after the final buzzer, because he’d tell me everything I needed to work on for the next game.
But that’s how my dad is. He’ll tell you how it is – in his matter-of-fact tone – and then you have to deal with it.
As much as I hated it at the time, I’ve come to realize how much his advice has helped me in everyday situations.
Before I could walk, I’m sure my dad started telling me all of his worldly insights, probably starting out with rule No. 1: Life isn’t fair.
He taught me and my brother many other rules, such as never squeal on yourself and don’t squeal on Dad; never tell your friends how to spend their money, who to fall in love with, or how to raise their kids (apparently that one comes later); and you don’t have to get over it, just beyond it.
My favorite life lesson chat with my father – and probably the most memorable – happened when we were diggin’ up spuds from the garden. We were silently shoveling and tossing the potatoes into five-gallon buckets when all of the sudden he said: “There are three things that could (change) your life right now, so don’t get pregnant, don’t do drugs and don’t get in a physically impairing accident.”
Since I was 16 or 17 at the time, his concise sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll talk rendered me speechless.
It was one of the last few lessons my dad shared with me before I left home and went to college. My dad always said that all he ever wanted was to raise his children so we’d be equipped to make decisions on our own. He never told us what we should do with our lives – he just made sure we had all the proper tools to handle situations and opportunities that came our way.
Now that I’ve graduated from college and I’m living on my own, he thinks it’s so cool that I’m out there analyzing and making decisions for myself. He said those are the moments when he feels successful as a father, because he knows I have the tools to go and do what I want with my life.
So Happy Father’s Day, Dad, and thanks for giving me the gift of self-sufficiency. But that doesn’t mean I want you to stop paying for my plane tickets home.
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