World’s best dads

Published 6:56 pm Tuesday, June 22, 2010

You can’t help but think about your dad this time of year.

A lot of people weren’t as fortunate as I was. I had a dad that had an impact on my life.

This is my 10th Father’s Day since he passed away, and I still feel his influence all around me. I still ask the question to myself, “What would he do?”

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I think about the job I did as a father. Hopefully my children feel the same bond toward me even though my dad and I probably had different parenting skills.

As a grandfather, I am getting to see the job my two sons-in-law are doing as fathers. This is the first Father’s Day for Grant, while Daaron now has three under his belt. It is a marathon, not a sprint, but they are doing just fine. I am following my father’s own example in not interfering because they too will have different styles of parenting.

“Time out” didn’t exist when our children were growing up and my father would have laughed at the very concept. Still he was a progressive man for the time. We didn’t have to have a belt to know that he meant what he said.

It is interesting what people say when you ask them about their fathers. The memories aren’t always pleasant for some people, but they shaped who we are just the same. The absence of fathers in a home is all too common today. Children adapt and persevere, but you can’t help but think that in a perfect world that Dad would be at home every night.

When I look around I see so many examples, at least from the outside, of men who have raised their children to be good productive members of society. I see men molding their young children with patience and love. There are a lot of good examples all around us.

Without wanting to call names, I started thinking about who is the best father that I know right now. I realize such an observation is conditioned by the things I can only see from the outside. It is influenced by my own thoughts about what the best way to raise a child.

Such a selection would obviously be limited to those I know personally and I would have to have had some interaction with the children. Finally, I would have had to have known him for some extended period of time because as we all know being a parent brings new and different challenges with each passing year.

It was then that I realized the best dad that I know lives right under my nose, literally. I have known him for most of my life and have known each of his children since the day they were born.

He changed diapers when they were infants and cooks breakfast just to get to share the time with them. His expectations are high and known to each of them. The expectations may not always be met, but he will hold them up to try again.

He is a father to both a son and daughters and understands the different dynamics between each gender and a father. His heart is big and his emotions genuine. His close friends get to experience this about him as well. As his children have gotten older, he isn’t afraid to say aloud to them that he loves them. These aren’t just words and the love is unconditional.

He is so proud of each of them that something will come up about his children in almost every conversation you have with him. His world revolves around each of his children to a fault; but then that isn’t really a fault, is it?

The limited hours in the day are carved up with his family first and everything else second. There will be no game missed unless they are all playing in different locations. Then Mom and Dad will divide up and rotate around. Most practices will find him watching as well.

An athlete himself, he doesn’t demand they follow in his footsteps as if they could. He does demand, however, participation in sports and activities that keep his children busy and teach them about teamwork and depending on others.

He helps with schoolwork even though it wasn’t his favorite thing at their age. He will be in church every time they are and he leads by example in all aspects of his faith.

In the end, probably the greatest gift a child can have is seeing their parents lead by example. In this case, these children got a double blessing because their mom is just as wrapped up in these children as their dad is.

I know these children love their dad, but teenagers are teenagers as any of us who have had any can testify. I went through that stage when I thought I knew everything and sold my father short. The older I get the more I realize that he was just letting me find my way.

We haven’t always done things the same way, but when it comes to being a dad, this man has found his place, which serves as an anchor to his children. Neither his children nor he realize just how important that will be as they too find their way.

He has long been my best friend, partner and brother. I just didn’t know that one day he would join the ranks as one of the world’s very best dads. My daddy and granddaddy would be proud of him. I know I am.

Happy Father’s Day, Ernest.

Dan Ponder can be reached at