Celebrating all the great dads out there

Published 9:27 am Thursday, June 18, 2015

What does it really mean to be a great dad? That is a question I think about a lot and certainly more than ever this week as the Father’s Day holiday looms.

It is often said that anyone can be a father but being a dad takes character, integrity, patience and many other admirable traits. I certainly think there’s a lot of truth to that.

I grew up in a … well, let’s call it a less-than-traditional household. My father certainly didn’t come from a Norman Rockwell painting.

But he was still a great dad.

My parents were unrepentant hippies and, even by the time I came into this world in 1975, they still hadn’t really caught up with the times.

We lived on a rural farm in Ohio where the cash crop certainly wasn’t tobacco or corn. My father, who has some Native American heritage, often looked like a wild man with a full beard and his jet-black hair coming down well past the shoulders. It wouldn’t be uncommon for him to have a feather or some other decoration in his hair.

We didn’t go to baseball games, toss a football or do some of the typical things associated with fatherhood, but he taught me so many lessons that were far more important.

Dad taught me how to start a campfire.

He taught me how to ride a horse (and a pig even for that matter but I think that was an unintentional side effect).

He instilled in me the ability to let your imagination run wild and taught me how to read well before I ever stepped foot into a classroom. We skipped your typical children’s fare like “See Spot Run,” instead opting for superhero and western comic books.

Dad taught me to treat women with respect and that a man’s wife is a true partner.

He taught me to follow the Golden Rule.

He taught me to work hard, be honest, do the right thing and so much more.

All those lessons and the countless others are what I try to think about now that I’m a father trying to teach my daughters and have a relationship with them that they will treasure forever.

Fatherhood can be a challenging thing, as there is no instruction manual and requires an immense amount of patience, but I couldn’t think of anything more rewarding.

So I want to say Happy Father’s Day to my Dad, and all the real dads out there.


Michael Caldwell is the publisher of Leader Publications LLC. He can be reached at (269) 687-7700 or by email at mike.caldwell@leaderpub.com.