• A is for Agape

What my father taught me was subtle

What a father teaches a child is usually subtle. Sure, to most of us the first things that come to mind are, the value of a dollar, hard work, firm discipline, but these are only the most obvious lessons. What fathers really teach us ar the more fundamental aspects of our character.

1. Respect yourself and others

This lesson is one of the most important a father teaches. But it doesn’t happen because of his words. Instead it is taught through his treatment of you, your mother, his own mother. The way he addresses his businesses clients and the mailman are all demonstrations of how he views the world and how he wants to be treated in it. So, we see him respectfully address a neighbor. We see him share of himself when his help is needed. He respects the privacy and intellect of his children. He will not belittle or degrade. He is always lifting up and encouraging.


This is one of the few that actually gets turned into words right around puberty or shortly after. But before then a father is constantly showing a child how to do and make. Whether it is sports, cars, woodworking, music, a father imparts knowledge. Fathers love teaching their children. If they are good at sports, they pull out their own jerseys and footballs and play around in the backyard. When a father is musical he strums a few chords, jams in the living room with toddlers banging away on pots and pans or more likely a state of the art guitar that does not belong in a three year old’s hands. Whatever a father’s interest he is going to try to pass it on, these are the moments we learn that the love of something can turn into more, a career or a great hobby. But in a faer’s nature is also to perfect. It is not enough to love something but you must also work at it. A father wants to see passion and dedication. He is looking for gifts and talents. When a good father lets his child grow their abilities, the child thrives under their tutelage and nurture.

3. Strength of purpose

The first time you get picked on at school isn’t the first time your father has told you to stand up for yourself. As an infant on the playground your father was fighting for your rights. If it was your turn at the swings, your father was their to help you up. But if a kid cut in front of you he was either going to teach you the great art of patience or, more likely, he was going to let the child know that it was in fact your turn and he was welcome to wait in line. So, when you are up for a promotion at work it is more than likely your father’s voice in the back of your mind pushing you to the front of the line. If it is important enough a father will fight with you. Unlike mother’s who fight because they are more bears protecting their cubs, fathers choose their battles more carefully. Along the way, we are watching their choices. We are learning which battles to fight with all our might and which can be let go.

4. Value and character

Of all the lessons taught, oh so subtly, by fathers, this is the greatest. When your father is on the sidelines cheering you on at a game, a recital, or a graduation, he is letting you know that you are the most important thing to him. Some fathers yawn their way through these mandatory events and though they are there physically their attitude makes you feel second best. But that father who sits up straight, attentively watching their child succeed or fail, because failure happens, that father is imparting the greatest of gifts to his child. That father, who is a leader at work, a fighter on the field, becomes a lamb at your feet when he watches you pirouette for the first time, make a goal that wins a game, even when he hhugs you after failing a math test. He cares at all times. That child will go on to lead a happy fulfilled life knowing they are loved and acknowledged.

5. Healthy relationships

The foundation of a healthy relationship is usually due to a father. When fathers stand by their children, their wives, their families, they teach their children the importance of good relationships. Every time a father chooses his family above all else, he is imparting security, stability, and lasting faith in human relationships. A father who hugs when a child is broken hearted, smiles when they get a B on their hardest subject, encourages when the job seems too hard, that father is showing how to build a relationship. A child of a faithful father is a child who considers his life carefully. We imagine that those who linger before marrying or ponder the need for children are the ones who come from broken homes. More than likely, these are the children of stable homes. They don’t take commitment lightly. They don’t bandy the word ‘love’ around, because they are well aware of its importance.

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