Father’s Day Thoughts

Ray van Hilst Avatar
My Dad and my Son. Two of the best things about being a dad.

One of my favorite hit a splash of reality a few days ago with a post about the fact that You Can’t Parentshift.  He’s right.

Work-shifting and telecommuting is common-place with today’s technology. Heck, I work for a company in Chicago and live in Washington DC!

And when you do have to hit the road for work, we use text messages, Facebook updates, Skype,  and more to keep in touch with the family. For one of my daughter’s softball games this season I even got play-by-play texts.  But none of that replaces actually being there to lead, laugh and learn with your kids.

With Father’s Day here, there are some amazing dad’s I admire who have shaped the dad I am.  The most fitting tribute I can think of is to recognize them for what they have taught me and inspired.  Starting, with my top 3:

Frank van Hilst, My Dad (Duh! Of course!!) – You learn a lot about how to be a parent and adult from your own parents. And I am blessed to say I seemed to have spent a lifetime in master classes.

My Dad first instilled the value of hard work and still holding yourself accountable to your family. My dad worked long hours and had a long commute. But during soccer season, he pulled into the driveway every day to get me to practice. When there was something to be done, he was there for us and made sure we were ready.

My dad also constantly reminded me that the knowledge in your head and how you use it is a great measure of intelligence than a piece of paper or initials after your name.

My father is also the smartest man I have ever known. And yet, he doesn’t have a college degree. However along the way that hasn’t stopped him as he mastered multiple languages, the tax code, geography, subjects such as science history, gourmet cooking and much more. His ability to understand a wide variety of subjects, think strategically and have a passion to never stop learning have been inspiring throughout my whole life.

Lastly, he taught me to never pass up an opportunity to spoil your kids or enjoy a smile. I fondly remember trips to Dairy Queen and little things he would do on the side to say, “here’s a little something to brighten your day.” It wasn’t extravagant, but it was heartfelt sharing that made a lasting memory.

Scott Smith – Long before I had kids, an old boss (and now friend) told me about a conversation he had had with his son who was mad at him.  He looked his boy in the eye and said, “My job is to raise you to be a kind, smart, responsible adult. At the end of the day – if we are friends, that is a bonus. Not a requirement.”

That bit of advice has guided my parenting philosophy to hold my children accountable, be responsible and respectful. I’m not afraid to discipline and worry what they think.

CC Chapman and Chris Bonney – In a world where too many dads focus on career above all else, this group of dads has taught me that you CAN put your kids first and build a career that fits you.  (Yes, I will admit that it does help that we all work in web and communications.) As CC says, you can’t work-shift being a parent. And Chris Bonney points out it’s not about work-life balance but just balance. You can make time for being with your kids, enjoying adventures and bonding.

(Oddly enough, it was 6 years ago I met CC Chapman at a conference that inspired me and put me on the career path that now enables the balance I try to achieve.)

Now, as I celebrate Father’s Day AS a father, I realize it’s not just a day to reminisce about your kids and enjoy the spoils of being a father. It’s even more important to recognize the dads along the way who taught you how to be a dad.

So, here’s to all of you…

Frank van Hilst, G.T. Schramm, Papa Wood, CR Davis, Saul Schiffman, Lige Miller, Peter Gottschalk, Dave Wilson, Richard Reeves, Bill Bland, Rich Edgar, Dunnie Bache, Lynn Carpenter, Jim Staley, Scott Smith, Eric Stevens, Chris Bonney, Rodney Huey, David Billingsly, Peter Uncles, Gary Ryan and many more dads that I have known throughout my life. 

Thank you for helping me become the Dad I am. The Dad I wanted to be when I set out on this journey.

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