I don’t know if all girls idolize their fathers when they’re young, but I certainly did.
In fact, when I came of age to be looking for a husband, my criteria was simply, someone like my dad. I didn’t realize for quite some time that such expectations were unrealistic when dating guys who were half his age…and hadn’t had an extra 25 years to mature. My dad was the best dad anyone could have, I thought. I’m sure I felt this way because he made me feel so special. One of my memories as a little girl is my dad blow drying my hair after baths. I had a lot of hair…thick, long hair that took a long time to dry, and I loved that he did this for me. As I got older I came to realize that although my dad isn’t perfect, he possesses a host of admirable qualities that I love and respect him for.
I was not very old when my Mom told me of a business associate who had said of my dad that he has impeccable integrity.
This is how I learned what “impeccable” means, and this has always made me want to emulate him…what a thing to have said of you. When my father was less than a decade into his career, he found himself on a certain occasion in Europe, responsible for closing a hugely important business deal for his company. The evening before the final papers were to be signed he was at a dinner party with several of the players on both sides of the deal. The man in charge of the deal, on the other side, whom my dad had been working with, had had a lot to drink and become quite boisterous. He insisted that my dad have something to drink…something alcoholic to drink, knowing full well that my my dad does not consume alcohol. As expected, my dad declined, but this man continued to pressure him, to such a degree..and making such a scene…that my father’s associates began to pressure him to take a drink just to shut the guy up. It would have been easy to give in…not only could he have put an end to an embarrassing situation, but he could have avoided the potential fallout of upsetting this man to the point of damaging the business relationship and jeopardizing the deal. But my father is a man of integrity, and this was a matter of principle, of covenant…it is a dictate of our religion that we not consume alcohol. And so he did not take a drink. The next day the man who had been pressuring him the night before expressed his respect for my dad’s integrity, saying that his word was as good as done…that he was a man who could be trusted.
I have always gone to my dad for advice. In fact, many people go to him for advice…
business, financial, job, life…whatever, because people recognize that he is a man of wisdom and experience and perspective who has valuable advice to offer. He is careful in offering unsolicited advice, though. He is humble and does not like people to think he is imposing his his will on them, which he does not do. When giving advice he always conditions it with, that is my opinion, but this is your decision to make. When I was 11 I encountered some problems with a particularly petty “friend” of mine. She was the type who liked to bring others down in order to lift herself up. One particular occasion I became the recipient of a nasty letter that listed a variety of things that were “wrong” with me, including my religion. It was silly, but understandably upsetting to a girl of my age. I approached my father for advice on how to handle the situation. He went through the letter with me and showed me how to articulate a well-reasoned and organized response to every point addressed in the letter. Then he suggested that I write this all down so that I could refer to it and not become flustered while I hashed it out with her over the phone. I did not convince my friend that she was in the wrong or completely fix the situation, but I did gain the experience and confidence necessary to handle similar sticky situations that life would later dish out.
My dad is and always has been a very busy fellow, but he is first and foremost a family man.
A father of six, the CEO of a manufacturing company, countless hours of community service through leadership positions in the Boy Scouts of America, as well as demanding church leadership positions (i.e. 20 years in stake presidencies, the last nine as a stake president…and now as an early morning high school seminary teacher). Yet, as a child I never fully understood just how busy he was because he always put his family first. When my dad was home, he was Dad. Even at work, he was Dad. He would always stop whatever he was doing to talk to me if I approached him. There was always time to be Dad…I cannot think of a single example of a time when my father brushed me off or made me feel less important than whatever he was working on. He still does this.
My father is a marvelous example of service and generosity.
He taught his children by example the principle of service. As a fore mentioned, he has devoted years of service to the BSA and the Church, but he also takes care to find other situations and people to which he can offer service, often anonymously. He is very generous with his means as well. Through ambition, hard work, smart decision making and prudent living he has acquired substantial means, yet my dad is very humble and has always recognized that all good things are blessings from the Lord. And so he has made a lifelong habit of generously and selflessly using his means to bless the lives of others. He is a good steward over that which he has, and he is wise in his approach to helping others. He helps people in a remarkable way, never making them feel less than they are, or that it is somehow shameful to receive help, or made them to feel indebted to him in any way. He is happy that he is able to bless other people in this way.
Finally, I admire my dad’s admirable parenting style. He has mastered the art of “custom parenting,”
meaning that he alters his style to best fit the needs of each individual child. I have much to learn from him in this respect; it is much harder than it looks. But all children are different and they all respond to various disciplinary measures differently. It takes a remarkable parent to truly master this art; it takes a parent who truly understands his children and their unique personalities. My parents knew that I was heading toward trouble as an, oftentimes, emotionally distraught 14 year-old. They also knew there was a delicate balance that needed to be maintained when dealing with me. My best friend’s mother expressed to my parents her concern about some of the issues regarding the two of us, and she suggested that they confront me. My father knew better. He knew that confronting me would only aggravate the situation…he knew that love and patience is what I needed at that time. And he was right. It did not take me long to come around on my own, and when I did, my father was more compassionate, understanding, and forgiving than I imagined he could be. My father helped me to come to a fuller understanding of repentance and forgiveness.