One day we were looking at the Ensign, at the picture of the general authorities. I said, “These are pictures of really righteous men.” Kevin immediately asked, “Where’s Dad’s picture?” He had the right idea. Even though Dad is not a general authority, his picture could be with theirs in terms of being a good, righteous man.
There is no substitute for a good, righteous dad. All kids learn from their fathers, even if they are absent or part-time. The good news about this is that if you are a hands-on kind of dad, you can teach your children all they need to know, mostly by example!
When I was little I used to spend a lot of time with my dad. I would go to his store in Arnold, Nebraska, and he would give me little jobs to do. One of my earliest jobs was to fill the peanut machine. Then, I graduated to stocking the pop machine. Sometimes I would “get” to sweep the floor (using sawdust and a push broom). As I got older he let me answer the phone or run errands for him. As a sixteen-year-old, he let me drive a car (that belonged to a dealer) all the way home from Omaha (five hours away) all by myself. (Too bad he forgot to teach me to check the gas gauge and I ran out of gas 10 miles south of town!!!)
There is no substitute for a hands-on dad. I appreciate the time and effort my own husband put in to raising our children. I remember him reading stories at bedtime, playing catch, going golfing, trying to style girls’ hair, making pinewood derby cars, going camping, finding children who ran away, giving blessings . . . the list goes on and on.
There is one common trait that made both men great fathers: they were willing to spend time with their children. There’s a popular idea floating around that quality time is what counts. This is a lie. There is no such thing as quality time. There’s only quality moments that randomly occur when you spend quantity time together! You never know when those moments will happen. They show up almost by accident, when you least expect it.
Today, dads are often treated poorly in the media. They are portrayed as unnecessary at best and bumbling buffoons at worst. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dads are important in every child’s life. Their influence (for good or bad) is lasting and of great import. If you are a dad, step back and look at where you are spending your time and your talents. If you don’t feel like it’s with your family, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate your priorities. If you’re not a dad, take time to think about the influence your own father had on you, and spend some time calling, visiting, and thanking him for all the sacrifices he made for you.