Happy Father’s Day For Those Who Think They’re Done

“By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he is wrong.” – Charles Wadsworth

My friend Dan said to me, “I thought I was done raising my boys when they were in high school. They become more independent, didn’t rely on me for much and stopped coming to me for advice.” Now Dan is a great dad who really cares about his boys, but it made me wonder how many other dads feel that they’re job is done once their sons stop asking for advice?

I know when I was a teenager I never went to my dad for advice. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized that he still had a lot to offer. Dad lived to be 92 and I learned an immense amount from him in that last decade. All along he was modeling a life of faith, fidelity, integrity and generosity.

The last 20 years of my mother’s life were filled with serious health issues, and during those years I watched my dad become a more loving and thoughtful husband. He softened in all aspects of his life as he cared for her. He never complained or expressed resentment. He realized how much time mattered.

A few years ago it was my turn to care for dad in his final months of life. I cared for his house, talked to doctors, and payed bills. I realized as I went back to my hometown that many people knew a different Harold Becker than I recalled from my youth. They knew him as a man with a great sense of humor, and one who was generous with his time, talent and treasure.

As I paid his bills, I noticed from his check ledger that he had regularly made donations to dozens of charities including his church, local nonprofits, my alma mater, and numerous veteran’s organizations. You may know the Bible verse, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” He (and his heart) were deeply invested in helping others. Dad set a wonderful example of what it’s like to live with a generous spirit.

As Father Day approaches and I think about the relationship I had with my dad (and I have with my son), I realize that I’m never done being a dad. Years ago, Jeff and I talked about basketballs and homework. Now I’m intentional talk with Jeff about his relationship with his fiancé, his finances, and fulfillment in his work.

This Father’s Day I’m going to take time to be grateful for the example my dad set for me and my family. I also have the opportunity to do the same for my son. I need to remind myself, like my dad, that time matters. It’s vital that I live a life that’s aligned with my values around faith, fidelity, integrity, health, and generosity.

That provides sufficient motivation for me to say I’m not done being a dad. Happy Father’s Day, indeed.

This is an edited excerpt from Tender Lions – Building the Vital Relationship Between Father and Son.

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