A Thank You Note to Fathers

My first Father’s Day gift arrived early and unexpectedly from someone other than one of our children. While chatting about the old days, she told me that my encouragement meant the world to her. Through teary eyes, she said, “You never treated me like an underdog and always encouraged me. I hope one day someone tells me I did that for them.”  

This young woman was one of our daughter’s dance friends, now 27 and married with a child of her own. She was one of the 20 to 30 kids that spent many weekends in our home. She said, “You gave us an alternative to a lot of bad choices and belief in ourselves.”

Although, this is not the first time one of the kids has thanked me, it was still unexpected. Having a couple of dozen teenage girls required prudence on my part. The interactions were so few that the impact I had is very surprising.

Bob & Olivia 2 Weeks

Our son & granddaughter

The little things we do have greater significance than we imagine.

“Cat’s in the Cradle” is s song from the 70s by Harry Chapin about a dad who was so busy; he missed his son growing up. It had a big effect on my ideas of parenting.

A child arrived just the other day,
He came to the world in the usual way.
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay.
He learned to walk while I was away.
And he was talking ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew,
He’d say, “I’m gonna be like you, dad.
You know I’m gonna be like you.”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
“When you coming home, dad?” “I don’t know when,
But we’ll get together then.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away.
I called him up just the other day.
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind.”
He said, “I’d love to, dad, if I could find the time…

This song is about a life I did not want to live and led to choices that limited my career, but did not prevent my success. You can have both. I was there for ballgames, swim meets, recitals, and all the events. Not on the sidelines with my phone, but coaching or involved. When they looked for me, they found me watching intently, silently encouraging, well not always silently.

Encouragement is the power tool of leadership. Our older daughter told me she could define her childhood in one sentence and said, “You taught me I can do anything I put my mind to.” All of our children are successful adults.

Our credibility comes from our deeds and the time we invest, not our words.

Our kids and employees do what we do, not what we say. We have to be the people we want our children and team members to be. When we give our time, they know we are spending our most valuable asset on them.  

When we encourage people, they will excel beyond their capabilities and in turn encourage others.

Parenting is the most important job anyone with cildren can do. When we get that right, we become the best leaders we can be.

To the Father’s, thank you for doing the hardest job in the world and paying it forward.

Happy Father’s Day