Father’s Day is a very special holiday for me for many reasons. When I was a child, I remember my mother taking me out to buy gifts for my dad every June. My parents divorced when I was 5 years old and I missed a lot of time with my dad as I grew up. So, the time we did spend together was very important to me. Even though my mother and father divorced and went on to remarry, they both taught me to honor my other parent.
Seeing my mother go out of her way to help me make Father’s Day meaningful for my dad taught me that, regardless of their past, she wanted me to appreciate him. This lesson went a long way for me and ingrained in me the need to always honor both my parents. Being a father myself has led to some of the proudest moments of my life. The sight of my children following my lead and watching everything I do with such curiosity is amazing to me. I feel so blessed to be the father of two beautiful children.
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Knowing I was loved and supported by my dad, when he was present or not, meant so much to me. I drew personal pride from the fact that I was a “junior” and shared the same name as my dad. From self-esteem, to confidence, to being a role model—as a father we have so many areas where we impact our kids. I am proud to be a dad, and even more focused on improving as an individual. I was also blessed to have an amazing step-dad later, with whom I still have a great relationship.
Here are a few happiness lessons I learned from my dad growing up:
1. Be an optimist
When I was younger my dad almost always had a smile on his face. He had an easy-going spirit about him, which made people around him relax. Even as he heard bad news, he listened, then smiled and replied with a comment about the bright side. He was an optimist in every setting, especially when it came to times when I messed up.
2. See the world
My father served as a Marine, went to war and traveled a lot in the military. Growing up, I heard plenty of stories about other parts of the world and he encouraged me to travel whenever I had a chance. I’ve visited about 20 countries thus far, and seeing how others live in other parts of the world has helped me to be happier about how I live at home and to have a greater understanding of the world.
3. Take time to encourage children
Little people look up to all adults, parents or not, and taking the time out to encourage them goes a long way. Many of my cousins call my dad their favorite uncle because he always took the time to encourage them. Children are full of life and expectations, and their happiness rubs off!
Since I missed a lot of time with my dad growing up, I am passionate about bringing awareness to the impact of a father or father-figure. I work with Shoulder-to-Shoulder in Sacramento, California, to battle the impact of fatherlessness at home. There are many other opportunities to make an impact, including working with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America.
You don’t have to be perfect
I hope everyone gets a chance to spend time and honor their fathers this year. As I’ve learned, perfect or not, fathers have an immense impact on our children, and Father’s Day is our special day, so here’s to you!
Happy Father’s Day.