The first time I looked into the eyes of my newborn child, my life was changed forever. An earthshattering feeling of love, humility and responsibility overwhelmed me and I realized at that moment that I had a new job that would last the rest of my life. Fatherhood has brought me more pleasure than I ever imagined. There is nothing I enjoy more than seeing my kids happy, especially when they are learning and challenging themselves. When my kids did theater or debate, I hated to miss even one performance and when they played sports, I went all in. My wife has a special smile when she looks at our kids. I can’t really describe it except to say that it’s a different smile, a deeper one and it makes my heart melt.
However, in between those incredible moments of joy, comes a lot of work and it isn’t all fun. We have a big job as parents and fathers. Our job is to instill values, provide our kids with the tools to succeed in life, and create better people. I believe kids learn more from what they see than what they hear. Today with the Coronavirus, a broken economy, and the Black Lives Matter Movement we are all seeing the best and the worst in people, and as fathers we have the heightened responsibility of pointing out which is which. If you are like me and your kids are mostly grown, you have to do it in a conversation, so it’s a great time to have family meetings where everyone can share their impressions and you can provide some historical context. I have been surprised by how attuned my kids have been to what is going on around us and how formulated their opinions are. Thankfully, they know the difference between protesting and looting and why wearing a mask in public is actually a considerate thing to do and not a political statement. But my kids have also struggled with frustration and fear over the last few months, and that’s where I need to step up even more as their dad.
For me, it is important that my children see me as being on the right side of history. I have been thinking about that a lot lately. I remember when I was a kid watching a documentary on the civil rights movement with my parents. I learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his adversaries. At the time it seemed so obvious to me who the good guys were and who were the bad guys, and I thought about what shame the kids of racists, segregationists and appeasers must feel when they saw documentaries like the one we were watching. While hindsight is always vivid, and right from wrong today may not seem as obvious to some people as it is when we look back at the sixties, I am certain that in a few years there will be no question who the heroes of 2020 were and who were their antagonists. As I look to the future, I want my kids and grandkids to have zero doubt about where I stood. To my fellow Dads I think it’s safe to say that today is a Father’s Day few of us will ever forget. As wonderful as it is to be blessed with a family, make no mistake, fatherhood is a job, but it’s my favorite job.