Parenting

The Father That Every Child Needs

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Father and sonI would like to be so bold as to send out a message to “fathers” everywhere. I would like to go on record as being one to set the record straight that just because a male is biologically able to play a part in the creation of a new life, that does not constitute him being a “father.” Not to be rude or crass, but animals in the wild can do as much.

Being a father is more than having the title of “father.” The title of “father” is not a God-given right, it is a title that is earned.

Being a father means more than seeing a new life come into the world, and then going happily on your way to do what you want to do, when you want to do it. The major part of being a father is BEING THERE. A father needs to be there to do his part in raising his children, and helping to guide the footsteps of those children on the path that they should go. A father sets the proper example to help his children to mature into well-behaved, respectable and responsible adults that will become viable contributions, versus menaces, to the society in which they live. He is wise enough to discern the difference between discipline and abuse, and disciplines his children in love when needed.

A father knows what he believes, and stands firm in those beliefs. He is a man of courage, a man of discipline, a man of principle, a man of moral fortitude. He is ALWAYS THERE – on the bright sun shiny days, and especially on the dark and cloudy days. He does not tuck tail and run when the storm winds are raging, but rather he stands firm and is a provider and a protector during those storms.

Blessed is the man who is a devoted husband to his wife and gives his children the best gift that he can give them – to love their mother – and whose children love him and call him “father.”

Father and son

Lessons I Learned From My Father

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Dad Short Order Cook

My father, the late John Wallace Brown, began working as a short-order cook during his High School years and continued working in that profession up until the time of his death on 20 November 2006, at 71 years of age.  He would be promoted during his career to Kitchen Manager.

Ezra Taft Benson, the 13th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called the “Mormon” Church by the media and others), taught,

A father’s duty is to make his home a place of happiness and joy. He cannot do this when there is bickering, quarreling, contention, or unrighteous behavior. The powerful effect of righteous fathers in setting an example, disciplining and training, nurturing and loving is vital to the spiritual welfare of his children. . .Remember your sacred calling as a father in Israel—your most important calling in time and eternity—a calling from which you will never be released (Ezra Taft Benson; “To the Fathers in Israel,” Ensign, November 1987, pp. 50-51).

I have often found it easier to write about and speak of my beloved mother than my father. It is not because I did not love and respect my father, for I did, but for several years ours was an estranged relationship. It is partly because of that relationship that in March 1981, at the young age of 23 years, I made the decision to leave home and join the military. It would not be until the twilight years of my father’s life that I would finally begin to have a more complete understanding of the man he really was.

The last time that I visited with my father was the weekend of my 48th birthday in October 2006. He looked aged, tired, worn out, and troubled about many things. What I saw before me was not the same person that I once knew. Seemingly gone from him was the vibrancy of living. The things that he had once found pleasure in doing had suddenly become passé to him. What I saw was a man who had run his course in life, and was now ready to just sit down and rest awhile.

The rest that he so desired came on Monday, 20 November 2006, at the age of 71 years. Though saddened that he was physically gone, there was also an air of relief that he was finally at peace and no longer had to deal with the mundane things of this world.

I shall forever be grateful for the life lessons that he taught me. It has been those valuable life lessons that have helped to mode and shape me into the man and the person that I am today.

One of those valuable lessons that my father taught me was how to be resourceful. As a boy growing up my family did not have a lot of money and so we often had to rely on the resources that we had available to sustain life. Instead of spending a lot of money at the grocery store for example, my father, for many years, planted his own garden and grew fresh vegetables and other things such as strawberries, watermelon, and cantaloupe to be used as sustenance for his family and himself. He also enjoyed planting beautiful flower gardens for my mother.

We did not have elaborate banquets to feast from, or gourmet meals to eat, but there was always enough to satisfy each hungry appetite with some left over for meals the next day. Very early in life I became acquainted with our good friend Quaker Oats, as oatmeal for breakfast was a staple. Meat such as venison and rabbit were often given to my father by friends who hunted and wanted to share their bounty. The chicken that we ate often came from those who raised and bred chickens. My mother was usually the one who had the honors of killing the “bird”, cleaning it, and preparing it for the family meal in addition to her delicious homemade dumplings.

My father was also resourceful in making fun things for his children to play with such as bows and arrows, and kites made from sticks and newspaper with a piece of cloth tied on the end for a tail. He even used scrap materials from old toy wagons and such to build us go-karts that my siblings and I spent hours of enjoyment playing with.

In addition to teaching me about how to be resourceful, my father also taught me how to be thrifty. He taught me that it doesn’t take a lot of money to be able to survive in this world; a person just needs to know how to manage the money that he has, and realize that he cannot put out more than he takes in. He also taught me that “robbing Peter to pay Paul” is not a sound way of managing finances. Sooner or later you still have to pay Peter what he is owed.

When my siblings and I were in school we never owned name brand sneakers, expensive sports jackets, or designer jeans. The only name brand that we were remotely familiar with was the wonderful brand called Fruit of the Loom. Most of the shopping for our school shoes and clothes was done at stores such as Sears, JC Penny, or McCroy’s. In our earlier school years, a lot of our clothing was purchased at Mr. Curley’s, a local discount clothing store. Our school supplies were purchased at Woolworth, the local dime store, or some similar place where supplies could be bought at reasonable prices. We did not have fancy, expensive, designer backpacks to carry our books in; we carried them in our arms. We did have lunch boxes with a thermos inside, but very often we took our lunch in a brown paper lunch bag. We were required to cover our textbooks to help protect and keep them for future use, and instead of buying fancy book covers, we used the brown shopping bags that were gotten from the grocery store and cut them to fit our textbooks.

My father was a frugal man who believed that spending money unnecessarily was utter foolishness. “A penny saved is a penny earned” was his philosophy. That is not to say that he was a penny-pinching miser or anything of the sort for he spent money on the necessities of life, but he also strongly believed and taught his four children well that there is a vast difference between what we think we want and what we really need. He would also spend extra money to take us to fun places like Ocean City in the summer or to the fair in Harrington Delaware. He also made sure that we got a gift on our birthday, and at Christmas there were lots of presents under the tree for everyone.

Dad Early Years

Perhaps one of the reasons that my father was so careful with his spending was because he came from a humble upbringing and always worked hard all of his life to have the things that he needed and to provide for his family. And so, another important life lesson that my father taught me was the value of hard work. “A little hard work never killed anyone” he would say. Throughout his life he often worked at least two jobs to make ends meet. In the latter years of his life he worked as a Preparatory Cook in a local restaurant during the day, and then would come home and go to work, often until dark, in the lawn care business which he established and became very successful in. He was definitely not a stranger to hard work. When he laid his head on his pillow at night to rest, he could do so knowing that he had put in an honest day of work.

Another life lesson that my father taught me was that we can all learn new things if we have an open mind and are willing to be taught. We often defeat ourselves in life because we refuse to be teachable and to venture out and try new things.

For example, my father was very good with his hands and loved to build things. One of the things that he built was a work shed where he could work on his projects. It started out as a small one room work shed, but as time went on, he decided to add an addition to house all of his tools such as shovels, rakes, hoses, lawn mowers, etc. Once his lawn care business started to grow, he decided that he needed to expand even more and built another addition to house his lawn equipment and supplies. I might add that all of this was done by building from the ground up – nothing was prefabricated. He also ran all the electric himself and installed all the lighting, light switches, and electrical outlets that were necessary. I might further add that the lawn care business that he maintained was completely established by him, and he worked diligently to get his customers and faithfully served them until the time of his death. He did not take any expensive courses in carpentry or electrical installation. He did not major in Business Administration at a major university. He simply used the knowledge that he had obtained by watching others and put that knowledge to practical use. He was able to carry out many of the things that he did because he was teachable and willing to venture out and used what he had learned to have the things that he needed.

The acronym that I use to help me remember the life lessons that my father taught me is “Remember The Home Team” (R.T.H.T.) That is, (1) Be resourceful – learn to use the things that you already have at your disposal, (2) Be thrifty – learn to separate your wants from your needs and be a wise steward over the funds that you have, (3) Be a hard worker – be able to lay your head on your pillow at night and rest knowing that you did not waste the day that the Lord had given you, but that you were a wise steward of time, and you seized the day and did an honest day of work, and (4) Be teachable – have an open mind and be willing to learn and try new things.

The valuable life lessons that my father taught me are not only lessons that I remember, but lessons that I will not soon forget. My father was a great teacher and mentor. I only pray that I was as good a student as I should have been to learn and apply the valuable lessons that he taught me.

My Deep Abiding Respect For Womanhood

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Mother and her ChildrenI would just like to say a few words about my deep abiding respect for womanhood. In particular, I would like to say a few words on behalf of all the mothers of the world. I have often said, and I will say it again, if you want to know the true heartbeat of a home, take time to get to know the mother or the matriarchal figure of that home. As a man, I boldly testify that it is the mother, not the father who sets the tone for the home.

Mom and MeI know of a surety, that after my dear mother passed in 1997, the entire atmosphere of our home changed. Things definitely were not the same as they once were. In fact, things seemed a bit out of sorts. That same welcoming, loving spirit in the home that once resided there, seemed to had disappeared. There was just something special about my dear mother. Her very presence in the home, made it seem like a bit of heaven on earth. I am sure that there are many who feel the same way about their mother. Thank God for mothers!

To the young people of the world may I offer this wise counsel, LOVE YOUR MOTHER! Young people of the world, LOVE YOUR MOTHER!! Honor her, Respect her, and Obey her. She is a mortal just as you, and so she is prone to make mistakes, just like you, but still, she is deserving of your love, your honor, and your respect.

Mother and ChildrenYour mother should never be used as the subject of jokes or derogatory comments. In my almost 55 years of life, I have never found one dear mother who was deserving of being the subject of anyone’s, especially her own children’s, cruel, demeaning, and degrading jokes and comments. What I have found is that they are all deserving of LOVE, HONOR, and RESPECT.

Young people, if you have friends that come to your home that refuse to respect your mother, then perhaps it is time for you to grow up, and wise up, and choose better friends. Friends come, and friends go, but a dear, loving mother, will stick by her child to the bitter end, even to go so far, when she knows without a doubt that her child is guilty of a serious wrong against society and is deserving of punishment, to stand beside the child that she loves pleading and begging for mercy for that child. Young people of the world, LOVE YOUR MOTHER!

Husbands Love Your WifeIn that same vein, I say to all husbands and fathers, LOVE YOUR WIFE!! The greatest example of love that you can show your children is to show them that you love their mother.

Thank God for all the women of the world. It is often the women who have to keep the men in line and on track. More times than not, in an hour of need, it is the women who are the first on the scene to arrest the situation. In some respects, whether the macho men of the world want to admit it or not, if it were not for the women of the world, this world might well be in worse shape than it is in at this hour. Men are often “thinkers” and procrastinators, women see that there is something to be done and get it done. Oftentimes, while men are devising their strategy, women have already found a resolution to the issue. I say again, thank God for mothers! Thank God for the women of the world!