By: Stephen Waguespack
It was a good weekend to be a dad.
The weather was nice, the U.S. Open was on TV and it was Father’s Day weekend. My boys and I enjoyed an overnight father/son basketball camp, visited our favorite greasy spoon for breakfast Sunday before church services, and shared some good quality time in different ways throughout the weekend. Overall, it was a great reminder why I am so fortunate to have a loving family who enjoys one another’s company.
However, it was also a reminder of a more important lesson: It is absolutely critical for each and every father to do their job.
As a business trade association, we spend countless hours and energy debating different things the government should or should not do with taxpayer dollars. At the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), we proudly advocate aggressively for policy and political decisions that will promote free enterprise, limited government and economic growth. While we are steadfast in our beliefs that these principles are good for Louisiana, others with different beliefs are just as passionate and aggressive in taking their positions. This vigorous debate remaining free, spirited, and continuous serves as a hallmark of our democracy.
However, government has its limitations regardless of how it is structured. Some things government simply cannot do.
Government, whether designed by a moderate, conservative, liberal or anyone else, cannot make someone be an attentive father. Government cannot regulate one’s responsibility to be a good role model, tax away a lack of compassion, or mandate maturity.
It would be interesting if government could do those things, but it can’t. The only person able to make someone a good father is the man himself.
The irony is that with all the governmental programs, agencies and bureaucracies created over the decades to address our challenges, the most critical factor to solving most of them is men and women stepping up on their own and taking responsibility to be effective parents.
A child with an involved father from a young age can be taught how to respect their fellow man, the property of others and the laws of this land. That foundation can do more for our crime prevention efforts over time than any program ever will.
A child with an involved father can be taught to view education the same way children in many other countries view it: as a necessity needed to succeed in life and an opportunity not to be squandered. Putting this level of importance in education at a young age can prepare our kids for life’s opportunities and challenges and maximize the investments we make in our classrooms.
A father who treats his wife with respect at home can teach his children how to treat women by his actions, in addition to his words. Children will emulate this behavior as adults if they grow up witnessing it on a regular basis, helping to reverse the tragic increase in trafficking and violent crimes against women.
A father who shows his children the importance of faith, virtue and forgiveness can instill in his kids a spiritual core that will guide his children throughout their lives and positively impact his children’s future actions as a taxpayer, neighbor, friend and co-worker.
A father that gives and expects good manners from his children and his children’s friends can do more to improve the “soft skills” of Louisiana’s future workforce than any program ever could.
The commitment to hard work, love of country and community involvement that defined the America we knew a generation ago can be rekindled more through the everyday actions of fathers reigniting that in their children than any elected official, political speech or campaign commercial ever will.
We often talk fondly about previous eras in America and sometimes openly question whether we are heading in the right direction. The debate centered on the role of government in that question is critical and must continue.
However, every now and then, it is worth remembering the simple truth that government did not create American greatness and it sure as heck cannot be structured in a way to absolutely guarantee its continuation.
American greatness began with people, not government. Many of those early people were also fathers. Many of those fathers taught their children about respect for others, hard work and the importance of freedom. They taught their children that the land of opportunity gives them the same equal chance to reach their goals as anyone else, but only if they work hard to attain them. They taught their kids about responsibility, effort, faith and perseverance. They taught their kids how to responsibly handle success and maturely deal with adversity.
Frankly, we need more of our fathers teaching these lessons every day to their kids.
Father’s Day should be more than just a “thank you” weekend; it should be a call to arms and a reminder to all the fathers out there to do their job. If one father drops the ball, we all deal with the consequences. And quite frankly, our nation’s continued greatness depends on every father upping his game and setting the foundation in the leaders of tomorrow.
Anyone can be a father. It takes hard work to be a dad. Do your job, fathers. Be a dad.