Maybe the answer is better dads

A few weeks ago, a city near this location had special city council meeting to discuss the problem of increasing crime rates and what can be done to curb this serious ongoing problem. Some members started to talk about new gun control measures while others felt the need to have more police officers on streets or hire more officers. A common theme in all of these proposals was the need to have more and bigger government to solve a problem that should have a very common sense solution to it. Nowhere in this discussion did I hear anyone talk about the need to have better, more responsible families and that starts with the person who is supposed to be the head of the household.

Show me any gang member and I will show you someone who has probably come from a broken family. Chances are the member’s dad is not around to help them grow up as a person. The person then feels the need to look at empty ways of fulfilling that guidance through gangs. Before they know it, their life is spiraling out of control to the point of permanent destruction or even death.

Many folks have this typical stereotype of the inner city having this problem, but it can also extend to the affluent suburbs. The dad is some big shot executive at a company and works many hours a week. He has no time for his kids; his career is so much more important in his mind. His company has to make money and that means working long hours. Once again, that much needed guidance is gone and the child grows up developing bad habits which could prove devastating later on in life.

Being a good dad is a tremendously important responsibility for any guy. I am not a father myself, but I have many good friends who are outstanding dads. One in particular really stands out. He is a single dad of a wonderful young boy. About a month ago, he received a rather lucrative job offer in another state. He turned it down to be closer to his son and be more involved in his life. Guys who make sacrifices like that are what Father’s Day is all about. I greatly admire guys who put aside their own personal agendas for the good of their families and especially children.

Our society is only as good as the people who are in it. Chances are a person who grows up with a loving father will be more successful in life. Studies back up my statement. If we want a better society, we need more guys to look in the mirror and take responsibility to raise their kids the right way. Our world will be a much better place if more guys take on that challenge.

 

 

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Wanted: Better Dads

Politicians and law makers often spend countless hours trying to figure out ways to combat certain social problems such as gun violence, poverty and school achievement gaps. These problems are vast and have many components to them, however, I find it rather puzzling that an obvious easy answer to many of them lies within the family structure of many households. I can guarantee you that if we had more responsible dads in our society, these problems would go down drastically. Why can’t anyone figure this out?!!

Take for instance your typical gang member. It is no secret that many of them come from broken homes where the father is absent. The lack of a fatherly presence in the child’s life leads to a very grim future. The child gets influenced by the wrong people and often leads to their own destruction. You want to solve inner city crime? Start by building up the inner city families. In addition, many of these children grown up refusing to respect the police or any authority figure. Many of those high-profile police shootings are the result of a failure to respect authorities.

The same can be said of more well off families. Just because a child comes from a very rich family does not guarantee that they are probably raised. Many of these families are led by men who value their careers more than their own children. They don’t have time to spend with their children. It is more important to them to earn extra money for themselves by working long hours. The result is often the same as the poor inner city family. No leadership or guidance can lead to several issues in the child’s life.

I greatly respect and admire guys who take the time and effort to be with their kids and become a part of their lives. It may mean making a few hard sacrifices. You might have to give up playing golf on Saturday mornings with your buddies in order to be at your son’s baseball game. Or it may mean having to sit through your daughter’s long dance recital when the big football game is on. The important thing is that you are there for your kids.

I am not a father but I know how important it is to become a good father because all of us in society benefits when we have more outstanding dads. Our society is only as good as the people who are in it. A good father often brings a whole generation of good people into this world. That is what really need today. We don’t need more government programs that often do not work. We need better families and that often starts with the fatherly figure at home.

My true role model

The phrase “role model’ gets used very loosely in our society today. I hear young people list their role models as being famous celebrities, such as LeBron James, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga or even our president, Barack Obama. When I was in my teenage years to early 20’s, I used to really look up to Michael Jordan because he really inspired me, not only with his great talent, but his overwhelming desire to work hard and win. However, looking back at my life, I would have to say my biggest role model was my late father.

My dad was gifted in many areas. He could succeed in nearly everything that he would put his mind to. As a young boy, I used to attend his softball games and marvel at his natural athletic ability. He succeeded in many sports and his influence certainly got me involved in sports at a very early age. I always wanted to impress my dad when he attended my little league baseball games or when he took me golfing. We would often play one on one in our driveway and my dad would always win. I dreamed of the day when I could beat my dad and become as good as him. That really motivated me to become better at sports in my youth. I wanted to become as good as him.

He was also a very bright and smart individual. He decided to finish up his college degree sometime in his early 40’s and received academic honors from the university. Seeing him succeed in college made me try that much harder in my school work as well. I wanted my name in the paper for making the dean’s list just like my father. He also had a great ability in home improvement projects. I swear he could have been an engineer if he really wanted to. If there was a fix-up problem around the house, dad was there to fix it.

These things really pale in comparison to what my dad was like as a human being and person. In all the years that he was married to my mom. I never heard him yell at my mom once or put her down with some negative comment. They had a beautiful marriage and liked to do many simple things, like go camping or go on trips together. Their big date during the week was going out to breakfast at the local cafe on Saturday morning. The way he treated my mom is something I will never forget and will certainly be fresh in my mind if by some miracle, I ever got married. He set a great example to me on how to treat a woman.

Outside of the family, my father was always willing to do little things to help people out. He would always take time to help others in need. Shortly before his sudden death, he helped a neighbor clear her driveway of snow; a wonderful act of random kindness. He volunteered at our church and was a very active member and leader. My dad was by no means a loud and talkative person. He actions spoke for his lack of words. Believe me, those random acts of kindness are not forgotten in my mind. Seeing my dad help out others in need certainly has motivated me to do the same in my life. After all, I want to be just like dad!!

My dad passed away suddenly one night, however, his legacy is something that still sticks with me today. I will never forget the examples he set for my sisters and I by the way he lived his life. I cannot think of a better person to have as a role model than my dad. We all miss you!

A special night with my dad

Most people probably can remember some special moment they have had with their father. It may have been a weekend fishing trip or a golf outing. Perhaps you and pops went on a nice long road trip together or worked on some home improvement project where he gave you some much needed advice. I was very fortunate enough to have a very kind and loving father with whom I spent some special times together. My dad passed away way too young but those memories still are very fresh in my mind. One in particular is a night I will never forget.

My dad was an outstanding baseball player in high school and got me involved in the sport at a very early age. We played catch in the backyard numerous times and watched many baseball games on television together. I developed a very strong passion for the sport at such an early age. One day, my dad announced that we were going to be taking a family trip to the Twin Cities during the summer and along with it, be taking in a few Minnesota Twins games. I was nearly nearly besides myself!! It would be my first major league game in person and it would be against one of the marque teams in the league at the time, the Oakland Athletics. Now I would get a chance to see the guys who I have been watching on television. I could hardly wait for day to arrive when we went on the trip.

The day finally arrived and my dad along with my mom and one of my sisters hopped in the car for the long trip to the Twin Cities. We finally arrived at our destination and stayed at a hotel in Bloomington which just so happened to be within walking distance of the stadium. The Twins used to play at a stadium where the Mall of America now stands. I remember getting out of the car and my eyes were totally fixed on that stadium in the distance. The following night, my dad and I would be attending a game there. While my sister and mom were more interested in finding the nearest shopping mall and swimming pool, my focus was going to the game.

The following night arrived and it was finally game time. My first major league baseball game. The Twins were playing a double header that night for some reason against the A’s. It was a Thursday night after the all star game. We walked over to the stadium and I can remember the excited in my little body was just overwhelming!! I was just fascinated by the inside of the stadium and the nicely cut grass on the playing field. Soon the first game began and it was such a thrill to see the same guys who I have been watching on television play live just in front of me. We had great seats along the first base line. The atmosphere was fantastic! Watching baseball in person is so much better than watching it on television. Hearing the crack of the bat was a wonderful sound. I can remember rising every time a player hit a long fly ball thinking it would leave the park. My dad bought a game program and taught me how to keep score of the game. Those of you hard core baseball people know what keeping score of the game is.

After nearly 3 hours, the first game was over and it was time for a little intermission break. My dad and I were getting hungry so we got some hot dogs, cokes and I got something called a frosty malt. I kept hearing the concession guy, who was walking the stadium aisles, yell out “frosty malts here” and he definitely got a very young buyer hooked! The food was absolutely delicious!

The second game started around 9pm and did not end until about 12:30am. It was well past my bedtime. My dad and I were not the least bit tired. We were having the time of our lives!! Sitting there past midnight on a nice warm July night with my dad while watching a great live baseball game is a moment I will never forget.

The next afternoon, the Twins played an afternoon game and we went again. 3 major league games in the span of 24 hours is a fabulous treat for any young baseball fan. It was my first taste of any major league sport live in person and moments like those will never be erased from my life.

The other day, I happened to look up those games on a major league baseball reference site and found the box scores as well as details of the games. My mind really had an ultimate flashback to a special couple of days with my dad. My dad and I went to several other games together and had other memories as well such as playing golf many times but those two days were probably the best memories I ever had with my late father.

I do not have any children but I often think about how great it would be to take my own son to a ball game and build those special memories together. Many times, small events like going to a ball game together or spending a day fishing are times that seem meaningless but it is funny how they can have a lasting effect on a young life. Maybe some day, I will get that opportunity to give my son the thrill of his lifetime like my father gave me for those few days in July.

 

My father’s memorable hole-in-one

With Father’s day just around the corner,  it is a great time to stop and reflect on the many things that our fathers have done for us both now and in the past. Unfortunately, my dad passed away about 6 years ago, but I will still be thinking about him on Sunday and what he was about. The following story is a good example of the type of person that my dad was.

It is a safe bet to assume that many of the fathers out there are avid golfers and my dad was certainly one of them.  He enjoyed hanging out with his buddies at the country club and had certain days when they would get together and play a round.  It was usually Tuesday afternoon and Saturday morning.  My dad was a gifted athlete and golf was no exception. He was about a 5  handicap player and frequently shot in the 70’s at many courses.  Not only did he score pretty well, he had a very pretty swing that would make many golf instructors proud. Yet the one thing that really eluded him during his golfing career was getting a hole-in-one.

Anyone who has ever played golf knows how difficult getting an ace is.  It takes a great deal of skill and more so luck to be able to hit a little white ball some 100-200 yards into a small cup on a faraway green.  I have come within inches but have never yet gotten a hole-in-one. Sooner of later, if you play enough golf, you are bound to get one.  My dad had played for nearly 30 years before he finally got his and boy was it a big one!!

It happened during a corporate tournament that one of his clients was putting on.  I have played in a few of them and they are alot of fun. Many holes have prizes such as closet to the pin, longest drive, etc..   You might win some small prize like a bunch of golf balls or a free cooler.  However, this tournament was a little different and had a little more at stake. On one of the holes, a par 3, 182 yard hole, the prize for getting a hole in one was 15,000 dollars.  My dad approached the hole, took out his 5 iron, and with his patented sweet swing, sent the ball flying through the air until it landed just short of the green.  From there, the ball rolled unto the green and disappeared into a small white cup. With just one swing, my dad had an extra 15k in his pocket!! And his first hole in one of his golfing career.

The great part of this story is that my dad was one of the most generous people on this earth and my mom and him would always give money to charities and their church.  After his round, my dad went back to his motel room and told my mom the stunning news.  I was told that he broke down and cried while telling my mom. It just goes to show that good things do happen to generous and good people.  They used to money to go on a little vacation and of course, my dad donated some of his earnings to help his church build a new gymnasium.  That was what my dad was all about. He was always willing to share with other people.