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Fatherhood is an honor and a responsibility

June 16, 2002|by BILL KOHLER

Today, I pay tribute to all the dads out there.

And, I tip my hats to granddads as well.

I originally wrote this column a few years ago as a deep-felt tribute to my own dad and mom when Dad turned 60. (Don't worry, I won't say how many years ago.)

The words in this column take on special meaning now that I am a dad. My lovely wife, Karin, and I were blessed 17 months ago with a baby girl (now a wild toddler with a mind of her own whose favorite word - no fooling - is "go.")

Fatherhood was a big thing for me. Since I was well into my 30s, I was ready for it - the sacrifices, the diaper changes, the tantrums, the messes, the responsibility and all the costs.

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Those things are nothing.

The smiles, the giggles, the kisses, the first trip to McDonald's, the morning walks where we holler at birds and the neighborhood dogs, swinging at the park and holding her hand as we wade through a creek - those things are something.

Those things make all the others seem meaningless.

Fatherhood is an honor - and an awesome responsibility. It's one we should take seriously. Many of us owe our good traits (and certainly some of the bad ones as well) to our parents and it makes sense to honor our fathers and mothers any chance we get.

If you don't know what to say or how to thank him, try this:

-- If your dad is still around, honor him with a simple hug, handshake or pat on the back. Tell him why you like him and why he's the greatest. Thank him for all the times he's been there for you.

-- Thank him for all the free advice.

-- Thank him for all the money you "borrowed" and never paid back.

-- Thank him for the car keys.

-- Thank him for throwing the ball with you even after a long, tiring day at work.

-- Thank him for coaching little league.

-- Thank him for teaching you wrong from right.

-- Thank him for tying your ties.

-- Thank him for kicking you in the tail when you needed it.

-- Thank him for his patience.

-- Thank him for listening.

-- Thank him for his silence.

-- Thank him for his pride.

-- Even if you've lost your dad, you can still honor him by being a great parent to his grandchildren - and make sure you tell them about him.

-- If you're miles apart on Father's Day, do what I've done for the last several years: Send a present, but also send one of those e-mail cards over the Internet. Dads like getting e-mail. Trust me.

-- If he was kind of a jerk and a pain in the neck, do him one better by being a better parent to your kids. Or, go hug your mother. End the cycle.

I was lucky. I have a great mom and dad. I hope I can honor them by being half as good to my children as they were to us.

Bill Kohler is Tri-State Editor of The Morning Herald. Reach him at 1-800-626-6397, ext. 2023, or e-mail him at billk@herald-mail.com.

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