Lessons from Dad: A Tribute to the Fathers that Shape Us

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What lessons from dad have stuck with you into adulthood?  That’s the question I have for all of us today.

lessons from dadI realize that in today’s culture it’s acceptable to poke fun at fathers and men in general.  The idiot savant father figure is practically a staple in today’s American family sitcom.  Think Phil Dunphy from Modern Family or Tim Taylor from Home Improvement.

However, whether we realize it or not, the impact of our fathers and the lessons from dad shape us in a way we never truly understand until we’re parents ourselves.  How can we know what it’s like to raise a child when we’re still children?  You have to experience that and so many other things in life to “get” why your dad is the way he is.

So, allow me to explore that today with you.  After all, it’s important to discuss things that go beyond money and fitness.  Why?  Well, our understanding of and mindset behind these subjects are very much impacted by our parents’ behavior.

That’s why I believe it’s important to explore it.  And to do so, I’ll share with you some things that my father and father-in-law taught me.  Further, I’ll also give you a glimpse of what I’ve learned in the 20 months I’ve been a father.

Let’s dive in and discuss these life lessons from dad.

My father was (and is) the family’s engine.

If my mother was the driving, Mama Bear type, my father was the reliable engine.  In a week that included making lunches and dinners, taking the 3 of us to sports practices and music lessons, and making sure we all did our homework, my father was the unwavering tree amidst the storm.  Sure, you may bend it and shape it, but you can’t break it.

I’ll never forget this story about my father.  We were at our family home in Northeast Philadelphia.  Like usual, I wanted to play baseball.  I wanted my father to pitch to me while I hit.

As usual, my father obliged.  I was “at the plate” and doing my best to hit the ball.  When, suddenly a writhing pain hit my father and I could see the agony in his face.

One of the jackasses across the street hit him in the back with a BB gun.  Hit him square in the back.  To this day, I shutter to think what could have happened had my father not blocked the shot.

Lessons from Dad on forgiveness …

My parents had us go over to the neighbors while the shooter’s parents ushered him over to our house for an apology.  We watched from the window.  My father, being who he is, absolved the perpetrator.

Being a kid, you never realize everything that’s going on around you.  You’re just in your own little kid bubble doing little kid things.

I recall asking my father years later why he let the shooter off the hook.  He said, “It was the day my mother died.”

And I got it.  My father put his feelings aside to be father that day.  What’s more was that even after the emotional pain of losing a parent and the physical pain of being shot with that BB gun, my father didn’t have it in him to cause more pain for these other parents by calling the cops on that kid.

My dad is as loyal and as steady as anyone you will ever meet.  He’s the rock of the family and is always quick with a joke.  His love of baseball seeped into me and I took it to the nth degree.  You will never find a more dependable, good-hearted guy.

That’s my dad.  God bless him.

My father-in-law is the epitome of persistence.

I don’t think I ever understood true dedication to a task until I saw my father-in-law paint and help us do updates to our first home.  The guy doesn’t quit.

He is persistence personified.  He will not stop until the job is done.  No matter how much his son-in-law oftentimes wishes he would.

While his help with all things home decor and remodeling are helpful and certainly appreciated, I think it’s his iconography that many of us admire most.  Iconography is the “production of religious images, called “icons” in the Byzantine and Orthodox Christian tradition …”

Painting icons (or writing icons as is the technical term) is my father-in-law’s passion and one he believes he is purposed to do.  As he often likes to tell us, every stroke of the brush is a prayer.  You would be right if you thought of it as a monastic practice because monks do paint icons.  And the images my father-in-law paints are quite miraculous.

He will often get requests from priests or Christian faithful to have an icon of a saint painted for a certain occasion or just to have in their home.  It is truly a selfless act.

Lessons from Dad on dedication …

The persistence and dedication needed to complete an icon requires a high degree of precision and focus.  He paints the icons on a wooden board which must be sized correctly and sanded down to make it smooth.  Then, he finds an icon and draws it out on the board.  From there, he has to match the colors and fit his brush into some of the smallest spaces.  But, the icons always turn out beautiful.

You don’t have to be an Orthodox Christian — or even religious — to appreciate the beauty, raw talent, and in-depth process that iconography includes.  It’s a true lesson in endurance for the sake of others.

That’s my father-in-law.  God bless him.

My experience as a father is a test of my will.

Well, we finally made it to me.  My short, albeit revealing experience as a father is definitely something we can all learn from.

I may have stated this elsewhere, but I am not exactly what you call a selfless person.  Sure, I’ve tried to be better at being less selfish … but my naturally tendency is to worry about numero uno first and foremost.

Yeah … that’s not exactly how fatherhood works.

Being a father to the awesome little boy I have requires a high degree of self sacrifice that I consistently struggle to manifest on a daily basis.  I’m not a bad father, but I’m not the greatest either.

I yell when I should be calm.  I sit around when I should play with him.  And I think “is it time for bed yet?” when it’s only lunch time.

A battle is constantly waged in my head about what I want (to just sit the hell down for a minute and watch mindless TV) versus what my son needs me to be.  And what is that?  Simply put, Daddy.

So, I get off my behind and I push him around in his little car.  I run back and forth from the pool in our neighborhood community area to the hot tub a few yards away.  Because my son loves the hot tub.  Yep, you read that right.

My wife is a stay-at-home mother, so I must channel my father in providing that steady income.  And I must find the persistence my father-in-law displays in putting my son before myself.

Easy to grasp?  Sure.  Easy to implement?  Heck no!

I fail on so many levels as a father on a daily basis.  But, I have a responsibility.  I’m a steward when it comes to my wife and son — but especially my son.

He needs a strong father.  Not a bumbling, stumbling TV dad.

No.

He needs a father who will pitch to him … even if it’s the worst day of my life.

What lessons from dad have shaped you?  Please share with us in the comments below.

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6 thoughts on “Lessons from Dad: A Tribute to the Fathers that Shape Us

    • Gary, thank you my friend. As a (we’ll call it) seasoned father, I appreciate you weighing in. It’s funny with parenthood, as soon as you leave one stage … you finally feel (somewhat) prepared. Then, BOOM they’re teenagers going off to college. Haha.

  1. Oh man I love your honesty. My daughter is 8 months old I struggle with the same selfish tendencies. I feel guilty about it sometimes as everyone else portray’s themselves and fatherhood as this one giant heavenly experience.

    • Grant, I’m glad you appreciate that. To me, most people who tell you otherwise are BS-ing you and try to one-up you. Or they’re on something. Fatherhood is a grind, but our little ones are a blessing. They force us to become better versions of ourselves. That’s why it’s so hard. It’s a molding process for us too.

  2. My dad use to be the first one up in the morning and the last to go to bed. I never quite understood why he put in such long days. That is until I was a father and realized the solitute of my thoughts in the morning and the cleaning up at night I needed to do. It’s amazing how much more work your parents put in that you never realize growing up. I feel like my work ethic has greatly increased since becoming a father and I know that comes directly from my dad.
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…How I Improved My Family’s Quality of LifeMy Profile

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