The value of a dad

Growing up my dad and I were not very close. He worked a lot, often during the same hours which I was home from school or early mornings which required him going to sleep early.

I would often times purposely (or not purposely) provoke his anger just to get his attention. Needless to say it was a tumultuous relationship at best, but deep down I loved him just the same.

A few years ago we lost my dad after a brief but painful battle with brain cancer. It wasn't until I became a dad for the first time that I was able to look back and realize that, despite my relationship with my dad, he did the best he could and taught me lessons I had no idea I was learning at the time.

  • He taught me the value of hard work and doing things on your own (this is probably why I love yard work so much). There is something about being able to see the fruits of your labor that is strangely rewarding.
  • His time spent volunteering instilled in me a drive to lift up and inspire others, which has led me to volunteering with organizations like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program…not to mention the joy I find through social media and my blog.
  • The little things he did for my mom, like doing the dishes (despite being terrible at it) and vacuuming the house gave me a great appreciation for the importance of supporting my wife and lifting her up whenever I can.
  • And despite my utter disinterest in it, his love of fishing and the quiet solitude that it brings showed me the importance of having an escape to a place that is largely yours. Running has become that refuge for me, and I am eternally grateful for it.

One of the most important lessons he taught me, however, was to never give up on your dreams and never give up on the ones you love. Growing up my dad had to leave elementary school to go find work to help support his family. He never fully learned basic skills like reading and math that so many of us take for granted. His drive never let up, however. After years of struggling and setbacks, he finally, and proudly, earned his GED (high school diploma equivalency).

The value of a father goes well beyond the paycheck he may earn and the thing he may fix around the house. He is the pillar of the family, to whom his family will look to for love, support, and safety.

On the family end, despite all the struggles we had, he never stopped loving me and wanting the best for me. I was too stubborn to see it then, but I am beyond thankful for it now.

Now, as a father of two boys myself, it is up to me to instill values in my sons which will help them grow to be amazing young men. Men who will:

  • Seek out excellence
  • Treat others with love and respect
  • Go above and beyond for their wives and family

And ultimately, one day, instill these same values in their children.

Sure, being a dad is a hard job. I see that now. I see the struggles that we face as men in today's world to meet expectations at work and at home and still hold onto a shred of our self-worth. But my role as a father is the most valuable and honorable undertaking in my world. I could not imagine not doing my best each and every day to fulfill that role so that one day my boys will look back and be as proud of me as I am of my father.

The value of a father goes well beyond the paycheck he may earn and the thing he may fix around the house. He is the pillar of the family, to whom his family will look to for love, support, and safety.

It is not always easy, it is not always rewarding, but as men we all need to make a decision each and every day to stand up and do what it is right. One day (maybe not today and maybe not every day) our children will thank us. Stand tall and make them proud. Your children's children's children will thank you for it.


About the Author

Matt Orlando, a 30-something father/husband/runner, lives in New Jersey with his wife and two sons. An IT guy by day, his true passions (besides running) are family, reading, movies, photography, travel, and being outdoors.

Matt writes for his blog