Dad, in this day and age of rough-and-tumble, in-your-face interactions, you are the key person in your child's life who can permanently instill civility as a virtue.
While we don't talk politics or religion in this column very often, and we honor the differing views on issues and beliefs, we believe in the advice from the Book of Proverbs: "Train up a child in the way he (or she) should go, and when he is older, he will not depart from it." Other religions have similar instructions.
Put today in reverse
How do we dads help reverse the destructive actions and discourse among people we see everywhere? How can one dad make a difference in a world where noise and anger drown out civility? A former schoolteacher, Tom still hears from students — many not much younger than he — who thank him for being a positive influence in their lives. A few remark that they themselves became teachers because of his zest for teaching. Aside from feeling grateful for those sentiments, and getting a fist-bump to his ego, the takeaway is that we dads may never realize what powerful and life-changing influence we have had on our kids.
Invest sweat equity for the future
Our effort to instill values, goodness, integrity and trust in our children is a reward that may pay off years down the road. The important thing is that we dads make that effort right now, when our kids are still close to us.
Many of us recently watched the funeral service for our 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush. You may never have been a fan of Bush 41 or even 43. But one could not help but be touched by the tribute to the elder Bush by his son, George W., and other family members and friends. The man lived a decent life and loved his family and country. His powerful influence over the years could be seen and felt in that large church. Set aside some of his questionable decisions as president. Instead, focus on his stature as a husband and father.
Be alive with your children
Every dad reading this can exert a powerful influence on his children. Men who do not have children can be role models for others. Somehow, we dads have relegated much of our role as teacher and mentor to social media, videos and TV. We dads have the power and the obligation to take back our parental role and make a lasting, positive impression on our children.
But it takes time and effort. To demonstrate positive qualities, we dads have to work puzzles with our young children, umpire our kid's baseball or softball game, play golf with our teenager — teach teamwork, sharing and fair play. Do things with your kids that require you to model honesty, kindness, triumph and even failure. Be alive with your children. Model a good life for your children. It's in your hands, Dad.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of "Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers." Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at Dads2Dadsllc. Contact them at tomandbill@Dads2Dadsllc.com.