Current weather

  • Scattered clouds
  • 54°
    Scattered clouds

Dad's authority established by kind of example he sets

Posted: Sunday, June 17, 2001

Authority. It's a word closely associated with fathers, for good and bad. When we speak of the paternalism of the state in this day and age, we usually don't mean it in a good way. And the American family has gone through big changes since the days when "Father Knows Best" was an ironclad rule. But authority is also a father's most precious gift. Gaining an understanding of it might, in turn, be the greatest gift of fatherhood.

My own father possessed great authority. In our family, he was the center and the unquestioned leader. He set a tone, at the supper table and in every endeavor, that said "We are a team. We work together." Work drove my father, and work was not easy to come by during the Great Depression. He would remind me and my younger brother and sister often of the value of work, and of being a good hand. My father was a pipeliner for Texas' growing oil industry -- he dug ditches and helped to lower pipes into them -- and his sweat, his aching muscles and the dirt on his clothes all spoke louder than words of how much it meant to have a job at a time when so many others did not.

We grow up thinking of our fathers as heroes, near gods. They seem to know everything: how to repair a broken bicycle chain, tie a fly or locate the North Star. They can explain the infield fly rule. Their opinions take on the weight of law. The examples they set stand for the rest of our lives.

When we grow a little older, we come to understand that our fathers might not, after all, have the answers to everything. We might at first mistake this for a sign of weakness. How wrong we are to do so.

Conviction can be hard to come by in this world. But if there's any job that calls for it, constantly and without allowance for wavering, it's fatherhood. When we are children, we imagine that fathers are simply born with it. As we gain some wisdom, we understand that assuming the authority of conviction requires the utmost courage. And we come to appreciate our fathers all the more.

Like so much about one's parents, it's something that having children of your own will bring home. This realization is one of the many rewards of becoming a father yourself.

Fatherhood confronts you with the need to take a stand, in a million different ways. It confers authority, sacred trust and sacred duty.

Fatherhood makes you appreciate your own father all the more. It makes you feel, deeply, how hard it must be to grow up without a father, and causes you to wonder what the broader implications are for our society when so many children are growing up today without a father in their lives.

We talk about discipline, and the need for a father figure to enforce it. This is an important part of authority, to be sure. But the larger part of it, the part I think we are really celebrating on Father's Day, is the part of authority that sets an example. The part that shows strength when strength is called for. The part that is involved in the work at the essence of parenting: to give your son or daughter a chance at a better life than the one you have known.

For this, and for everything else, thank you, Dad, on Father's Day.

Dan Rather works for CBS News.

BYLINE1:Dan Rather

Authority. It's a word closely associated with fathers, for good and bad. When we speak of the paternalism of the state in this day and age, we usually don't mean it in a good way. And the American family has gone through big changes since the days when "Father Knows Best" was an ironclad rule. But authority is also a father's most precious gift. Gaining an understanding of it might, in turn, be the greatest gift of fatherhood.

My own father possessed great authority. In our family, he was the center and the unquestioned leader. He set a tone, at the supper table and in every endeavor, that said "We are a team. We work together." Work drove my father, and work was not easy to come by during the Great Depression. He would remind me and my younger brother and sister often of the value of work, and of being a good hand. My father was a pipeliner for Texas' growing oil industry -- he dug ditches and helped to lower pipes into them -- and his sweat, his aching muscles and the dirt on his clothes all spoke louder than words of how much it meant to have a job at a time when so many others did not.

We grow up thinking of our fathers as heroes, near gods. They seem to know everything: how to repair a broken bicycle chain, tie a fly or locate the North Star. They can explain the infield fly rule. Their opinions take on the weight of law. The examples they set stand for the rest of our lives.

When we grow a little older, we come to understand that our fathers might not, after all, have the answers to everything. We might at first mistake this for a sign of weakness. How wrong we are to do so.

Conviction can be hard to come by in this world. But if there's any job that calls for it, constantly and without allowance for wavering, it's fatherhood. When we are children, we imagine that fathers are simply born with it. As we gain some wisdom, we understand that assuming the authority of conviction requires the utmost courage. And we come to appreciate our fathers all the more.

Like so much about one's parents, it's something that having children of your own will bring home. This realization is one of the many rewards of becoming a father yourself.

Fatherhood confronts you with the need to take a stand, in a million different ways. It confers authority, sacred trust and sacred duty.

Fatherhood makes you appreciate your own father all the more. It makes you feel, deeply, how hard it must be to grow up without a father, and causes you to wonder what the broader implications are for our society when so many children are growing up today without a father in their lives.

We talk about discipline, and the need for a father figure to enforce it. This is an important part of authority, to be sure. But the larger part of it, the part I think we are really celebrating on Father's Day, is the part of authority that sets an example. The part that shows strength when strength is called for. The part that is involved in the work at the essence of parenting: to give your son or daughter a chance at a better life than the one you have known.

For this, and for everything else, thank you, Dad, on Father's Day.

Dan Rather works for CBS News.



Related Searches

 FATHER'S DAY   CBS NEWS   OIL INDUSTRY   DAN RATHER   TEXAS 

CONTACT US

  • 150 Trading Bay Rd, Kenai, AK 99611
  • Switchboard: 907-283-7551
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-283-3584
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Business Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-335-1257
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING

MORRIS ALASKA NEWS