“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
With Father’s Day coming up, I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot. It made me realize something about fathers. As important as they are throughout our lives, it’s the lessons we learn from them as adults that really sink in.
When we grow up, we realize all the challenges we face are things our fathers have already dealt with. When we start our own careers, we realize all the obstacles in front of us are things our fathers already overcame. When we build a family of our own, we realize all the questions that keep us up at night are things our fathers already have the answers to.
I strongly believe that as we grow older, our fathers become more important, not less.
Take this letter from Ronald Reagan to his twenty-six-year-old son, written in 1971 on the eve of his son’s marriage.1
You’ve heard all the jokes that have been rousted around by all the “unhappy marrieds” and cynics. Now, in case no one has suggested it, there is another view point. You have entered into the most meaningful relationship there is in all human life. It can be whatever you decide to make it.
Some men feel their masculinity can only be proven if they play out in their own life all the locker-room stories, smugly confident that what a wife doesn’t know won’t hurt her. There are more men griping about marriage who kicked the whole thing away themselves than there can ever be wives deserving of blame. There is an old law of physics that you can only get out of a thing as much as you put in it. The man who puts into the marriage only half of what he owns will get that out.
Let me tell you how really great is the challenge of proving your masculinity and charm with one woman for the rest of your life. Any man can find a twerp here and there who will go along with cheating, and it doesn’t take all that much manhood. It does take quite a man to remain attractive and to be loved by a woman who has heard him snore, seen him unshaven, tended him while he was sick, and washed his dirty underwear. Do that and keep her still feeling a warm glow and you will know some very beautiful music.
Mike, you know better than many what an unhappy home is and what it can do to others. Now you have a chance to make it come out the way it should. There is no greater happiness for a man than approaching a door at the end of a day knowing someone on the other side of that door is waiting for the sound of his footsteps.
P.S. You’ll never get in trouble if you say “I love you” at least once a day.
As Mike Reagan put it:
“It was straight from Dad’s heart, honest, old-fashioned, and wise. I cried when I read it, and I’ve read it many times since then.”1
For those of us blessed to have good fathers, we know what an incredible example they are. Whether you’re a son or a daughter, our fathers are everything we want to be. They teach us how to be good, honorable people. They teach us how to get the most out of life. If we’re lucky, they teach us how to be even happier and more successful than they were … so we can raise our kids to be even happier and more successful still.
So this Father’s Day, spare a thought for the things your dad has taught you. Good fathers show us more than how to throw a baseball, drive a car, or cook on the grill. They show us how to be a good person. They show us how to put in as much as we can into life, so we can take the same amount out of it. They show us how to leave this world better than we found it.
They show us how to be happy.
From all of us here at CMR Financial Advisors, Inc, we wish you a happy Father’s Day. And to all dads, we say, “Thank you!”
Cliff M. Robello, CFP®, ChFC
Securities offered through Registered Representatives of Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory Services offered through Investment Advisor Representative of Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. CMR Financial Advisors, Inc. and Cambridge are not affiliated.