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The last week has been a whirlwind in the Superhero household, to put it lightly. Between trips to the hospital to visit with Superhero Grandma (who is now doing very well, thankfully) and celebrating Mrs. Superhero’s birthday, I have not had much time to write this last week, much less interact with others within the personal finance blogging community.
On the other hand, I have had significant time for thinking and reflection. Two days ago, I read a fascinating article by Breanna Noble in the Detroit News, Majority of dads think they should be paid. Throughout the article, Noble refers to a study which outlines all of the valuable household contributions by the typical father and attempts to place a value on that work.
A few quotes that stood out to me:
A father’s work for a year is valued at $24,738 and, according to a new poll, a lot of dads would like to be paid in more than just hugs.
. . .
Detroit Councilman André Spivey, co-chairman for the Task Force on Black Male Engagement and a father of two, said dads and mentors benefit the community by helping children reach their potential and pass on what they learned.
“Fathers need to be a good example, to be the leaders they are called to be,” Spivey said. “I know if we do that, we can turn our community around.”
. . .
Robert Rupert, also of Detroit, said he thinks dads deserve $100 per day.
“It’s a lot of work,” Rupert said. “But the wife should get $200 for what she does.”
Rupert, a home improvement specialist, said his father wasn’t around when he was a child, so he makes sure he is present for his children. For example, he picks up his grandchildren from school when his children cannot.
“I’m there when they need me,” Rupert said. “I try to stay around in their life, help them when they need help.”
. . .
Spivey said ultimately, being a father is a responsibility, but it’s one that comes with joy, gratitude and the opportunity to give back.
“I can’t put a number on that,” the councilman said. “I think it’s priceless.”
Today, in reflection on this article and in honor of Superhero Dad on Father’s Day, I would like to share a few of the most priceless lessons bestowed upon me by my father.
PRESENCE IS GREATER THAN PRESENTS
Superhero Dad has always worked a full-time job, along with countless hours of overtime, for as long as I can remember. Despite these long hours, he could always be counted on to faithfully attend all of my sporting events – basketball, baseball, wrestling, and track – and music performances. While many of my closest friends just assumed that their parents could not or would not attend a majority of their events, I took it for granted that my parents would be there.
When I think back on the greatest gift Superhero Dad ever gave me, I don’t think about the toys, video games, or the basketball hoop in the driveway; I think about the value of his consistent, supportive presence in my life.
EXPERIENCES ARE TO BE TREASURED
Between working to provide for our family and supporting us with his presence at a wide variety of activities, it is a wonder that Superhero Dad had time for anything else. One of the things that I will always respect about him is that he always made time for both the little and big things when it mattered most.
As a child, Dad and I bonded over several shared interests, namely sports, but also the game of chess. When I pursued chess competitively and began attending (and winning) several chess tournaments, Dad was there for me; he was a companion, a chauffeur, and after I grew to be the superior player in a short time, a punching bag, so to speak.
Dad probably doesn’t know this, but my favorite part about attending tournaments all across the Midwest was the experience of spending the entire day together. Today, I hardly think back on the size of the trophies I won or the expert opponents I defeated, but do think often of the treasured experiences on the road with my Dad.
THE POWER OF NO
While Superhero Dad was and still is as supportive a father as one could hope for, he certainly was not afraid to set me and my siblings straight from time to time. If we pushed the envelope a bit too much, we could be sure that Dad would press his tongue to the roof of his mouth and utter a much-dreaded, one-word response:
Whether we were asking for money (me), to stay outside a bit later during the summer (my brother), or to have another friend come over to play (my sister), Dad was at the ready to say “no.”
As children, I am sure we hated to be told no. As a very persistent child, I am sure that I protested and debated virtually every time I heard it. But today, I recognize the benefits of Dad’s periodic toughness with us.
A recently reviewed article in Psychology Today by Judith Sills, Ph.D., asserts that while “no” can be difficult to hear, it can be very freeing while providing several benefits (emphasis mine).
Organizational psychologist Adam Grant, author of Give and Take and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, outs the many professional rewards and successes that accrue to generous givers. Still, Grant emphasizes that “the ability to say No is one of the most important skills one can have, particularly for givers.”
Grant points to the power of No as necessary to carve time for one’s own goals and agenda. Without it, other people dictate your schedule and limit your accomplishments. Says Grant, “Saying No is especially huge in establishing a work/life balance. Without that ability, work will cannibalize your life.”
No also makes other people respect you and your time more, Grant notes. “When you are able to say No, people are careful to come to you with only meaningful requests, rather than simply asking for any help you might be able to give.”
No makes your Yes more meaningful, or as Grant puts it, “It makes you more of a specialist, rather than a generalist in what you give to others.” When we say Yes thoughtfully, because we are giving in our area of expertise, rather than saying Yes out of a need to be liked, we are far more apt to feel satisfied by giving.
No pays off in the personal arena as well as the professional one. It’s exhilarating to feel in charge of one’s self, to be the boundary setter and the decider. There’s a bonus in energy and self-confidence.
Too, No tests the health and equity of your closest relationships. If you feel you cannot say No, at least to some things, some of the time, then you are not being loved—you are being controlled.
Finally, and perhaps most important, personal integrity requires the power of No. The ability to say No is an essential element of one’s moral compass. Without it, we are merely agreeable pleasers, the Pillsbury doughboys of morals and values. Whatever the cost or quake involved when you deliver a No, backbone is defined by your ability to say it.
Dad may not have intended it, but in telling me “no,” he was raising a boy who would grow up to be a man of self-discipline, control, and integrity.
If you’re reading this, Dad, thank you for being a great father. The lessons you taught me continue to resonate with me, and I look forward to imparting them upon my own children when that time comes.
Readers, what lessons have you learned from your father?