Jay Rifenbary

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A Father's Day Responsibility

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Sitting on a flight to Vancouver, BC to share my No Excuse! message with an organization, it just occurred to me that it is the 43rd anniversary of my father’s death from a heart attack, June 7, 1968 at the age of 49. I was eleven years old at the time and I can still vividly remember the day, and the days following his passing. Sitting in my sixth grade class hearing a siren from an ambulance and having an intuitive sense that my father was in it, and he was. Being met at the bus stop, my uncle telling me the news, and staring at him in incredulity. Seeing the sorrow in the familiar faces of those around me. My mother’s shock, my sister’s tears and my uncle’s effort to keep some semblance of order in the midst of emotional chaos. Relatives I had not seen in years and friends with their outpouring of sympathy just manifested the impact of the event. Seemingly numb at the funeral, and finally crying as the casket was being lowered into the ground I knew there would be difficult days ahead. My wondering what tomorrow may bring without a paternal influence. How will I know how to be a good father, a loving husband, and a man of character myself? Who will teach and mentor me? How will I have the courage to be emotionally intimate again with those I love when it hurt so much to lose the father I loved? Why did this have to happen and what do I do from here?

Questions that could easily become excuses, and excuses that could have ruined my life. Instead the questions became a subconscious motivation to find the answers, and eventually gain a thorough understanding that excuses are the antithesis of personal accountability. That may appear to be common knowledge and it should be, but how many put into practice that understanding? Understanding and projecting a belief is easy; implementing that belief is the ultimate test of individual character. I believe what happens to you happens for you, and it is an outlook on life that has served me well over the years. Those questions directed me to the path I am on, for you teach best in life what you want to learn the most. My journey of growing as a man continues and with it comes a responsibility to those around me, especially those I love.

Fathers of good character are needed now more than ever. Our children deserve strong male role models not simply based on muscle, brawn and title, but strength of character and demonstrated positive core values. Over the many years I have been far from perfect in my fathering skills, but I am still a Dad and I continue to strive to be a better one every day. Your children will not care about what you had only who you were and the example you set. My children have loved me unconditionally through the many ups and downs of my own journey and I will be forever grateful for their love, empathy and support. It is fascinating to reflect on how many times our own children teach us how to be better parents.

Father’s Day is not only a day to remember and appreciate the fathers in our lives, but should be a day for each father to reflect on the example they set each day. It should be an example of care, love, strength, and mentorship to name a few? What does it mean to be a dad? From my own perspective, I believe a father’s emotional presence for their children is as important as their physical presence. Asking questions is more effective than always dictating. Reflect and listen before reacting. Be an example of action not just words, and a teacher not just a protector. Understand anger destroys communication and emotional patience is key to creating harmony. Accept the uniqueness in our children rather than always expecting them to be like you. This demonstrates respect for who they are and will generate an emotional bond that will last forever. As Abraham Lincoln stated, “I don’t know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.” Happy Father’s Day!



1 Responses to A Father's Day Responsibility


1. Aaron Says:

Absolutely love your comment "what happens to you happens for you." I am just now realizing that at age 53. And I really appreciated the wisdom you shared about Father's Day....our dads never stop teaching us.


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