Bolton: Thanks to two sons who help me be a better dad

Associate EditorJune 16, 2013 

Bolton

TIM DOMINICK/TDOMINICK@THESTATE.

My Dad is...

My dad is as handsome as a king.

My dad is as strong as Atlas.

My dad is as brave as Spiderman.

My dad is as smart as Albert Einstein.

My dad is as cool as Iron Man.

My dad is as athletic as Chris Bosh.

My dad is as fun as games.

My dad is as helpful as a bee.

My dad is as kind as doctors.

— Alexander Bolton

OBVIOUSLY, I was humbled and overwhelmed after reading that wonderful Father’s Day affirmation from Alexander, my 7-year-old son.

OK, so I teared up. But only a little bit. How could I not?

Obviously, I fall short of all those accolades. Well, at least short of a couple of them. And, next to their mom, no one knows that better than Alexander and his 4-year-old brother, Christopher. They know I’m not perfect. They see my highs and lows. They know I don’t always get things right as a father — or in general. And they’re not enamored with me when I have to correct them (particularly during the times when I have to be more, let’s just say, firm than normal).

But they never get down on Dad. Even when they get a little upset with me, it doesn’t last long.

They always come back, and in their own, unique, loving ways, they affirm me and give me the encouragement and incentive to strive to be an even better father.

And despite my limitations, they really do think Dad can do just about anything. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t hear, “You can do it, Dad,” no matter how minor or major the task at hand.

On Father’s Day, we understandably talk about what dads do for their children and other youngsters whose lives they impact. And that’s certainly what this special day is designed to do: give hard-working, dedicated men their due for not simply participating in the act that brings a child into this world but hanging in there and caring for, protecting, nurturing and providing for that child.

It’s a time to celebrate fathers who constantly pour wholesome things into their children. Proverbs 13:1 says, “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction.”

I believe that if my boys are to receive something good from me, then I must model wisdom and godliness and teach them about the things of God and what he requires of them as boys and as future men. I, like other dads, am supposed to be the symbol of strength, a provider, a disciplinarian, one who leads, loves and provides hope, encouragement, direction.

It’s through me that they will learn to become men who love and protect girls and women; that’s why it’s critical that they see me treat my wife and their mom as the precious jewel she is. It’s through me that they will learn to rise each morning and go make a living to care for their own families. If they’re going to be the priests of their home when they’re older and married, I’ve got to be the priest of mine today. Not only do they need to hear and watch me, but I must pray with them and teach them to intercede for others.

But the funny thing is that I’ve learned that I can’t be the father I need to be without their help. God uses them to teach me how to be a better father and, quite frankly, a better person.

They’ve taught me so much about how to be a father simply through how they encourage me, never give up on me and constantly seek my time and input. It tells me that I matter to them and that they expect me to be active and ever-present in their lives.

I can recall even some practical ways they’ve helped me be a better father and person. For example, one morning I was taking Alexander to school and the car radio was on a local sports channel. One of the hosts of that particular show used profanity, and Alexander immediately said, “Dad, that’s a bad word isn’t it?”

“Yes, and we don’t use those words.”

“Then why don’t you change the channel, Dad?”

He was right. Having been thus schooled, I changed the channel.

And anytime I need a boost of confidence or a pick-me up, it seems one of my boys is right there.

Even as I sit here writing at home, Christopher walks up and gives me a sticker: “Dad, this is your patch for being the best dad in the world.”

“Thank you, buddy,” I said, waiting for him to ask for something.

No request came.

Of course, while many of their gestures are “just because,” I can’t deny that the little ones are masters at using flattery to ultimately land that snack or the latest new toy they’ve spied in the store.

Ultimately, our boys count on me — and their mom, of course — for everything they need or desire. And they think that no matter what it is, we can deliver.

It’s a weighty responsibility. But their confidence makes me embrace that responsibility and try harder each day to be what I need to for them.

So, this Father’s Day, I celebrate my wonderful sons. Thanks for helping me grow.

Reach Mr. Bolton, author of the book, “God Is Grace: Lessons to a Father from A Son,” at (803) 771-8631 or wbolton@thestate.com.

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