Father’s Day is special to me because I still have my father, Tom. He’s 88 years old and it’s great to be able to go to Birmingham to see him, to take him out for dinner, to have a conversation with him.
It’s kind of funny. You never really sit down and say, “Thank you, Dad. Thank you for all that you’ve done. We appreciate it.” It’s kind of a given. And our family has many reasons to thank Dad for what he’s done, for how he’s raised us, how he’s taught us important life lessons. How he’s made sure we have grown up in the way we should.
It’s not easy these days because fatherhood is a challenge. I always thought when I was growing up that there was a playbook that parents were given immediately after they had children. And the playbook had mostly “No” in it. “No, you can’t do this. No, you can’t do that.”
But in reality, once I became a father, I realized we were winging it. I asked my dad about it. I said, “Where’s the playbook?” And he said, “You think we knew what we were doing? We were winging it.”
I think every parent goes through that at times. But you fall back on the values that you’ve learned in life, the values that you learned in church and school, the values that your parents taught you and those are the kinds of values that help you understand how to be a father.
The neat thing about my dad is that he always let us make our mistakes. There’s many a time he could have said that is not something you really want to do. He let us go out and make our mistakes and learn from them. He always taught us to stand on our own. He said we have to make sure we are responsible, that we would give back to the community and that we work hard. He taught us a tremendous work ethic.
Now I’m watching my son Drew be a father with my grandson George. Eula and I get a kick out of watching him do some of the things I tried to teach him. It’s come out in his own parenting style. He’s doing a great job, probably a much better job than I did is it as a father. It makes me proud.
But he just rolls his eyes when he hears me talking about having a playbook to be a father. He knew we were winging it all along.