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Lessons from my Father

June 7, 2013

The Saturday Evening Post writer, Clarence Budington Kelland, once said: “My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” The power of example is perhaps the most challenging and rewarding part of parenthood. While both of my girls are grown now, it doesn’t seem that long ago that their big blue eyes were watching my every move. This seemed to be particularly true at the times that I wasn’t feeling especially patient or friendly. It was on those occasions that I would think back to how my dad, who always understood the power of example, would handle himself in similar situations.

Growing up with four siblings, there was never a shortage of action around our home. However, my dad was never too busy to indulge us in a game of catch, to plan our next trip to the fishing hole, or to make it out to one of our school events. I enjoyed the quality time I had with my dad and I respected that “family first” wasn’t just something he said, but a philosophy by which he lived. I also recognized the authority my father had in the house, and understood that his high esteem in the community came from the way he lived his life and the respect he showed to those around him.

The example set by my father is one that helped shape my values. He pushed me to demand more from myself; he called on me to ask the tough questions, and asked me to make the tough decisions. I am part of his legacy just as my two daughters are part of mine, and while my daughters are not watching as intently as they once were, I know that they continue to watch to see how my actions match up with my words.

This Father’s Day is the perfect opportunity to take time out of our busy lives to thank our dads, for the batting practice, for the handy repairs, for the tough love, and for the constant example. I wish a very happy Father’s Day to my dad, Harold, my father-in-law, Jim, and to all the fathers across South Dakota.