Who’s Your Daddy

With Father's Day on Sunday there is good news and bad news. First the negative: single mothers head up almost nine percent of American households. The good news? Fathers who care are making a huge difference in this country.

How do I know? It is estimated that close to 40 percent of all those incarcerated in the USA did not have a father in their childhood home. So doing the math, a responsible father seems to be a strong force for promoting righteous conduct.

It was never easy being a father. Did you know that American icon Davy Crockett abandoned his children? And many other famous men did as well. Shameful. You can't be a real man if you don't look out for your kids. They need you.

There are plenty of books by dads explaining the dilemma of contemporary fatherhood, and it is true that dadism in today's high tech world is not easy. My father firmly embraced the Ralph Kramden philosophy: he was king of his Levittown castle. He worked hard and his family deferred to his wishes. Except me. I did not defer and was disciplined accordingly.

But today, most fathers don't rule as my father did. In general, modern dads are more enlightened. We bring diplomacy to the home rather than the "my way or the highway" post-World War II paternal strategy. But, looking back, I clearly understand that seeing a "chain of command" approach in my house was a positive thing for me. My father provided a strong point of view on life and was a leader. Boys, especially, need that.

Even though I am now a one-percenter economically, I rarely waste money. Every time I am tempted to buy some dopey thing, I hear my late father's voice: "do you really need that?" He was big on saving money and buying as much security as possible. He also encouraged charitable giving. So I am responsible with currency.

Also, I go to church every Sunday because my family always went to church. It didn't matter if the priest was speaking Flemish from the pulpit – we went. It was an obligation. Now, I fulfill my obligations. All of them.

My father also taught us to respect our country. He was a naval officer. So there was no slacking on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Veterans Day. We knew what they were. Today, a flag flies daily in front of my house.

Finally, I was never really tempted by drugs and alcohol. My father thought addicts were weak and intoxication was stupid. I never saw him high. He had a beer or two but never lost control of himself. By osmosis, I have adopted the sober attitude. It has really served me well.

As a teenager, I called my dad "the monster" to his face. He laughed. He even referred to himself as "the monster" when doling out orders to his offspring. There were many times I resented my tough dad and wanted Ozzie Nelson to replace him.

But now, I'm a father and realize that status is the most important thing in my life. No question who provided that perspective. So on Father's Day 2013, I remember my dad and the indelible gifts he gave me.

  • Darren Perkins

    Bill may not get it right all the time but is at least honest in his opinions and does not trumpet a party line. He naturally falls on the conservative side as most in this country do. Pompous and arrogant are personal qualities some may feel he has and this is subjective. In any case it does not detract from his positions or why he has them. I think he does a fairly good job at expositing the position of the average guy and that is why he is successful. Common sense and not spin rules the content of the show.

  • Wheels55

    I too treasure my memories of my Dad. I understand why he said and did things I didn’t agree with as a kid – it just took a while for me to get it. He is the standard that I set for myself, even though I also see his weaknesses. I think his generation was the last of the great ones because life has become perhaps a little too easy over the past 50 years. It seems that having it easy makes one less personally responsible. I am thankful I was raised to be personally responsible – I hope my kids are as well (so far so good).

  • americalsgt

    and this year we celebrate Bill Clinton as “Father of the Year.” For me, that’s all you need to know about the state of what a father is in America 2013.

    • Wil

      Your parents never taught you common decency, and now our society has one more right-wing jerk to deal with.

      • americalsgt

        I think you meant to say that to someone else, but that’s OK Willie Boy, I’m sure I would be a right-wing jerk to you. I love you too.

        • Wil

          I apologize for my uncalled for remark.

          • Jeff Webb

            Good boy.

          • Wil

            Thanks, Kiddo.

  • Brian Fr Langley

    1 of the 10 commandments specifically calls on us to honor our Mothers and our Fathers. This implies we have should have Mothers and a Fathers. Fathers who abandon their children, or Mothers who abandon their husbands (although I make exceptions for serious physical abuse) are failing their children. The implication of the Judeo-Christian ethic (what our civilization is founded on) is that our CHILDREN have an inherent RIGHT to be raised by both their parents.

  • Wil

    Bill, Your father never divorced your mother either! Unlike you.

    • Jeff Webb

      Your parents never taught you common decency, and now our society has one more liberal jerk to deal with.

      • Wil

        Have you ever watched Bill O’Reilly’s show? He’s a pompous ass!

        • Jeff Webb

          And this somehow makes you NOT a jerk with that cheap shot?