Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Today, of course, I find myself thinking about fathers and I came up with a list of some of the qualities of a good father (or mother, for that matter...)--whether in fiction or in real life:

1)Sees and nurtures the best in the child—and helps the child build on those strengths.

2)Encourages the child to believe in him or herself.

3)Loves deeply and gives of himself AND sets good limits on the child's behavior.

4)Helps out the child whenever it's a good idea AND knows when to step back and allow the child to discover what he or she can do on his/her own.

5)Admits mistakes and knows how to apologize.

6)Cheers on a child's success AND knows that surviving failure can be just as important and sometimes more so and helps the child know that failure is NOT the end of the world but only a beginning to the next steps forward.

7)Teaches the child financial responsibility, how to handle credit and the value of deferred gratification.

8)Reads and reads to his child and encourages a love of learning—whether book learning or life skills.

9)Encourages a child to be true to him or herself AND to think about others as well.

10)Sets an example of moderation in all things.

11)Is willing to be silly and play like a child.

12)Is willing to be a grownup and make the hard decisions when that's what's called for.

13)Cares enough to set limits and hold to them.

14)Shows the child how to be as safe as possible in a sometimes uncertain world AND encourages that child to LIVE, really LIVE even if that sometimes entails risks.

15)Understands that the harm a parent does goes far deeper than any harm anyone else can do and the good goes deeper as well--and he chooses to do the good.

I have known some wonderful men in my life. I am profoundly grateful to those men who helped me feel safe or helped me to grow to become the person I am now. Some of those men have done both. Some have been friends or married to friends and it was/is a joy to watch how loving some relationships can be.

Today I honor all those men who have been truly loving fathers—or tried their best to be.