Sage words of advice

Whether you’re a daddy-to-be or a seasoned granddad, Father’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to bask in the glow of your family’s affection and appreciation.

This year, you can also make Father’s Day an opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth. Ask yourself: Are you the father you always wanted to be? Are you the father your children deserve? Here are some thoughts on the subject from history’s greatest writers, thinkers, politicians and even comedians.

On Leading By Example

“Children have more need of models than critics.”

– French moralist Joseph Joubert (1754-1824)

Modern parenting experts agree. Role modelling desired behaviour is a far better disciplinary tactic than harsh punishments – not to mention more effective one.

On Disciplining Our Children

“There must always be a struggle between a father and son, while one aims at power and the other at independence.”

-18th century English lexicographer Samuel Johnson

At the root of countless disciplinary issues is a child’s developmentally appropriate – but nonetheless maddening – quest for independence. While children need the freedom to explore and make mistakes in the process, a good father provides clear boundaries and gentle guidance throughout their journey.

On Making Decisions

“If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right.”

– Bill Cosby

Like our kids, fathers need the opportunity to learn both through our successes – and through our setbacks. Getting it wrong today just means we have another opportunity to get it right tomorrow.

On Being There

“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”

– Sigmund Freud

According to the US Census Bureau, the percentage of American children living in mother-only families has increased five-fold since 1950. Children reared in single-parent families are more likely to suffer depression and struggle with learning difficulties. They are twice as likely to drop out of school. As adults, fatherless children experience statistically fewer educational achievements and economic opportunities. They are also more likely to have trouble forming long-lasting, intimate relationships. While these situations cannot always be avoided, the consequences can: Fathers need to be active in their children’s lives, whether or not they live under the same roof.

On Being Humbled

“A man never stands as tall as when he kneels to help a child.”

– Knights of PythagorasFatherhood is the ultimate lesson in humility – which most of us realize the first time they hear our newborn baby cry. (And if we missed that moment, then we definitely eat some humble pie the first time our little one spits up all over our new suit – just as we are rushing to an important meeting.) Children change not only the particulars of our lives – but our priorities. And once we embrace that change, our lives can become more meaningful than ever before.

On Keeping Perspective

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

– Mark Twain

When it comes to raising teenagers, we may not ever be able to win. If we don’t offend them, we embarrass them. The key to making it out of this stage alive is to keep loving your kids – while you remind yourself daily that they will grow out of this phase.