This Father’s Day I thought a lot about my dad. He is nearing his 74th birthday and is still very active. I could fill a book with all the good life lessons I learned from him. In this blog, I want to focus on one of his best.
Lookout for the underdog. This might sound counter intuitive to some. We like it when our children are accepted and thrive with the in crowd. That shows they are well-liked and popular. But, I know of nothing as sweet as watching a well-adjusted, popular kid defend someone who is being marginalized, an underdog. The odd kid in class, the special needs student, the outsider, the person with no friends who is new in the area, all of these kids are underdogs. They need a champion to stand with them. If your son or daughter can become that child, you have parented very well.
Some of my best memories from childhood are of my dad standing up for the defenseless. Once, I saw him stop a gang of men who were beating up a poor, pitiful hippie who had unfortunately had a fender bender with a hostile group of rednecks. Hundreds of people were frozen, just watching the beating take place. Not my dad. When no one would stop it, he did. I was so proud. I saw him stand up for a teenage waiter who was being abused by a big beligerant Texas cowboy who was a customer at a Howard Johnson’s. No one would stop the abuse, but my dad did. He had to get involved physically to protect the young man, but he did it. He would pay for less fortunate kids to go to camp with those of us who had a little more. When he would hear someone speaking derisively about undocumented Hispanics working in our country, he would without reservation tell them if a river stood between him and making a better life for his family, he would swim the river. That stuck with me. I have never looked down on the undocumented because of my dad’s words on the subject when I was a kid. I see them as hard workers looking for a better way to earn a life for their family. When others used slang words to describe African Americans, my dad taught us that was never ok. Never. They were precious people worthy of our respect. They were not less than. It was a theme I witnessed over and over again. And, it made me want to be that kind of man.
My dad aced the underdog lesson and for that I a very grateful. Dads, your kids are watching you. Please remember to pass down your best traits so your children can have a head start on living the big life.