Father’s Day: If you’re lucky, you have received — or now you’re giving — great advice

I know, every (male) blogger with half of a brain feels compelled to write about Father’s Day. I’m no exception (especially the half a brain part). I’m fortunate to be at a time in my life when I still have my father, and I am a father. I’m especially fortunate because virtually all of my peers have buried at least one or both parents.
My father, at age 87, is still what I tell people to be “an ass-kicker.” He’s lost a step or two, but he keeps moving forward. He plays golf (makes an annual trek to Florida, when I can see him), runs his boat and is an expert fisherman, and stays busy through the colder months by hanging around at a shooting range.
He is 25 years older than I am. I am 49 years older than my daughter — a differential of a generation, essentially.
Will I be able to share enough wisdom with my daughter given the age gap? It seems it should take less effort to reach across 25 years than pole vault your way over a 49-year-old chasm.
I don’t read too much into her eye-rolling — it’s expected from a 13-year-old. I’ve learned to grasp the small victories. Now there have been times when I’ve offered daughter advice she’s used — even helped her with how to say the right thing based on the situation she faces.
First, it’s to know when to pick your battles (virtually never).
Second, offer agreement: “Yes, I see where this is a problem.”
Then, propose how you plan to fix it.
When cornered, the typical response is to throw up the defensive barrier, and argue by offering reasons/excuses why the other party (parent) is wrong.
It’s much wiser to validate someone’s concerns — it doesn’t mean you’re admitting any wrongdoing. No one likes being told they’re wrong (even if you believe they are). A certain degree of empathy is required. You must have the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes or position. It’s a practical application of, “Do unto others …”
Another nugget of advice I picked up for dealing with sticky situations I learned in the workplace: Always be ready to present a solution, a reasonable plan that reflects your desired outcome.
Not to say my upbringing was lax, but it was a different time and a different place, The message was simpler: Tell the truth, and act like you’re as smart as you think you are. Nearly as important: Don’t get caught.
When it came to getting advice about dealing with difficult situations, I had a neighbor/mentor who was a solid sounding board. We’d sit on the front steps. I’d complain. He’d laugh and he’d offer advice. This Father’s Day was the first one his daughter marked without him; there’s another friend her lost her father during the holidays, and is facing her first father’s day without him.
While I have learned a lot from my father over my lifetime, it’s been the past couple of years when I have found the most value in this. My father always has stories about living. He was a salesman, it those stories entertained and cemented professional relationships.
More recently, my father has taught me about facing the end of life. The first step is acceptance: the Grim Reaper could visit unannounced, anytime. Second, don’t allow that to overshadow the now. You must do all you can to enjoy that time. Then, when you’re not having fun anymore, it’s OK to check out.
He’s often told me about his father’s passing. He was visiting his father in a nursing home. His father looked up at him and said, “Jimmy, I’m not having fun anymore.” He passed that night. My mother’s father went out on the same terms.
Maybe that’s the advice I still need to share with my daughter: Enjoy today, in its fullest. When it stops being fun, it’s probably time to go.

One thought on “Father’s Day: If you’re lucky, you have received — or now you’re giving — great advice

  1. You know I was fortunate to have you and Jen, which I had lots of fun with whilst you both were growing up! Daughter Ann, being retarded for the 10 years she was at home, certainly was an influence on you. Her “rough play” with Jen who was was two was a pivotal in her placement in a home for the retarded, one difficult decision as a parent!

    Being a dad has been a great experience!

    Sent from my iPhone


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