This past Father’s Day weekend was a non-stop tribute to Tim Russert, deservedly as he remained at the top of his profession and passionately committed to his job and work family, yet never at the expense of his family, which included, even at the age of fifty-eight, his father. It’s lamentable that a man managing this emotional multi-tasking is being noted with awe when, ideally, it should be the norm.
It’s hard to single out which of the many attributes noted by Russert’s colleagues were most valued, but his unconditional love and appreciation of his family was mentioned by all. Regardless of who we help, mentor, or advise, it’s our children who are most affected by us and who continue to experience our presence long after we’re gone.
Though it’s not always easy to figure out when and how to best be there for them, ironically, it can include backing off. Our kids may appreciate hearing, “Good try” when they’ve struck out in Little League only to feel patronized and wince at it years later. Parenting is dynamic. We have to accommodate that they change and read their faces to understand what they’re feeling and needing, whether it’s articulated or withheld.
We’re not permitted to get a driver’s license or even to sell real estate without passing a test, yet parenting, the most important job one can have, is open to anyone. It’s up to us to set the standards, to give unconditional love and support. Those of us married to men who are a responsible and loving presence to our children can embrace today and say: Happy Father’s Day. I’m lucky enough to be among them.