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What makes a Great Dad?

Updated on January 5, 2012

Me and Dad

Children learn by seeing what adults do.

Truly, having only ever had 1 Dad, I can say with a certainty the world would be a better place if everyone would have been raised by my Dad, or at the very least someone like him. How can I say this with such conviction? I turned out darned good. I’ve never seen the inside of a jail cell, never been in handcuffs and the most trouble I’ve ever gotten into was a speeding ticket. How does this make my Dad Great? My brother had the absolute same upbringing as I did, yet he got into trouble as a young man, and had some seriously rough times. Once he became an adult he managed to stay out of trouble. Why is this? I believe it was because of our upbringing. Let me explain.

Children learn by seeing what adults do. If you are constantly getting into trouble with the law, and managing to wiggle your way out through lies and deception, what is this teaching your child? It’s teaching them to go ahead and lie, just don’t get caught.

My Dad taught us by example. We were never lied to and in his eyes, lies were the biggest sin of all. He told us that if we wanted something in life, we had to work hard for it.

Before we came along

He did not have an easy upbringing, he was forced to leave his home by the age of 15, he and his father did not see eye to eye.  To make his way he ended up caring for an old lady who made sure he finished high school.  He was the oldest of 6 children, yet remains very close to his Mother, he father passed in 1968.

He graduated in 1955 and ended up going to work for a while.  At some point the decided to do something with his life, so he ended up going into the Air force, being released in 1961.  This was the year I was born.  It would be another 4 years before we actually met.

He decided to look around for work, since his job in the Air Force was Navigation, making it difficult to find gainful employment in the ‘outside’ world.  He took a few courses at his local community college and was ready for the working world.  He was going to be a ‘Fire Protection Engineer’.  For the most part this was an untapped territory, in the business world.  What he did on his job was design where the sprinkler heads went in buildings.

He worked for a while in Chicago, then found his way back to Detroit where he was working when he met my mother.  They met at a bar ’Up North’ in a small town that we had moved back to after my mother left, for the last time, my bio-logical father.  He found out fast that she was a divorcee and she had two kids, she was a package deal. 

Our first house

My brother and I were delighted to meet him, it made us happy to see Mom happy.  Within a few short months we would be able to officially call him Dad.   They married on New Year’s Eve 1965, I was just 5.  He didn’t have a lot of experience with children, having moved out of his home before his brothers and sister were grown. 

The first thing he did was move us into a house, not a rental but a house of our own.  One that we didn’t have to leave in the middle of the night because the rent wasn’t paid.  Both my brother and I had our own rooms with our own beds and dressers.  He went to work everyday and came home at the same time every night.  We sat down at the dinner table together and had a delicious supper that my mom had prepared.  Without fail, every time he would ask us “What did you learn in school today”.  On the weekends if my folks played cards with friends, my brother and I always went along.  We rarely were left with babysitters.  We of course had to mind our manners and behave at someone else’s’ home.

During this time my brother started acting out, and getting into trouble with the law.  My Dad would give him a good old fashioned spanking and tell him not to do it again.  He of course didn’t listen and continued to get into trouble over the years.  Dad only punished us when we did wrong or disobeyed him.  His usual form of punishment was a spanking, I didn’t need to be told twice after having received 1 spanking.

New last name

We moved just 2 short years later to another house, 3 bedroom with basement.  Dad had changed jobs, this one was better paying I had over heard.  Every night still, we would have dinner and he would ask “What did you learn in school today”.  I think I shared more than my brother, I was the talker.

It was sometime between 1968 and 1969 that my last name became official.  I only remember the teacher telling me I could now use my new name, after having many arguments with her.  My brother was the one who got to go in front of the Judge to tell him that we wanted to be adopted, because of his age he was allowed to speak for me.  Mom and Dad talked of having another child, that just never happened.  Dad seemed satisfied with the two of us, it wasn’t like he was missing out on anything.

I just knew I was gonna die!

My brother and I did an awful lot of fighting in those days as kids, will do.  I used my only defense and that was biting, this made my Dad very angry.  He repeatedly told me biting was bad, the mouth was nasty.  In the 3rd grade a boy decided that he was going to choke me, we were fighting over a pencil.  I felt real fear that I could no longer breathe, he had his arm wrapped around my neck, my only defense?  To bite him.  The teacher of course had to send home a note telling my folks that I bit a boy.

Dad wasn’t home when I got there, his usual time was around 5 pm, this was around 3:30.  Mom read the note, I was scared.  I had been told over and over not to bite and I did.  I just knew I was dead meat, I dreaded Dad coming home.  I ended up sitting on the couch, looking out the window at all of my friends playing, not saying a word.  Every now and then the tears would roll down my face, waiting for death to come and get me.  I saw Dad pull up in the driveway and the shaking began, my fear was intense.  Mom didn’t make me wait, she immediately called his attention to the note.  I could almost hear the death bells toll.

Dad read the note from the teacher, looked at Mom then at me.  He asked me to explain so I did, very tearfully.  I also told him “I know you told me not to bite, but he was choking me”.  He asked me if I had been scared, I replied that “Yes, I thought I was going to die.”  I again apologized for biting, knowing I wasn’t supposed to.  He then looked at Mom and asked her what I had been doing all afternoon, she replied “Just sitting right here on the couch, waiting for you to get home to mete out her punishment”.  Dad got that thoughtful look on his face, kind of scratched his chin a bit.  He said “You haven’t even played a little bit?”  “Nope.”  “Well then, I guess you have been punished enough.”  I was amazed, I wasn’t going to be killed! 

Never give up

Over the years Dad still would ask at the dinner table “What did you learn at school today?”  As I got older I would reply with “Nothing”.  He would then say “I buy you books and send you to school and they teach you nothing?”  He would try and draw me into conversation, but at the age of 13 or 14 I was becoming sullen.  My talking skills were limited to my girl friends, yet Dad never gave up trying.


Some of the punishments that were given out as we got older seemed strange to me. I honestly don’t remember the last spanking I got from him. My brother, now he was a different story, no matter how many spankings he got, he still behaved badly. When Dad realized they weren’t doing any good, he tried other things. My brother had to wash the house by hand, no hose, just buckets of water. I had to write sentences when my mouth got out of control. He tried to make the punishment fit the crime, and he always made sure we understood what we were being punished for.

No matter how mouthy I got, Dad still came home from work every night, sat at the dinner table and asked me “What did you learn in school today?” He never got exasperated with me, never lost control of his anger. He always remained calm when dealing with me.

Pride in your work

When I was 15 we were going to build a house on some property Dad had found. Once we broke ground in May on the property our days went like this. Dad would work his regular job, Mom and I would meet him at the property with dinner. We would eat then get busy building. Sometimes Mom and I got started a little before he got there per his instructions. We wanted to be moved in by the end of summer. On the weekends we spent the entire day there from early morning to night. I hauled a lot of pea gravel in 5 gallon buckets, this was for the drainage around the outside and inside of the basement walls. I hauled more pea gravel than any girl had a right to. Yes, I did a lot of complaining but I still did it. Dad still laughs when he thinks of the pea gravel and my complaints. As the days went by, we could see progress the plan was coming together.

By summers end we moved downstairs, and by the end of 9 months we moved upstairs. Everyday Dad came home and worked on the house. Finally, I was into my bedroom with the paint I picked out along with the carpeting I got to choose. I had developed pride in the job that I helped with.

Things every girls should know

Soon, when Dad sat down to dinner and asked me “What did you learn in school today”, I would tell him. We began to have lengthy conversations, sometimes lasting well beyond the dinner ‘hour’. We both enjoyed the banter, he would ask me questions and I needed to have a valid reason for saying what I did. He made me think before speaking, not that I’d get in trouble, it wasn’t like that. With each conversation I felt just a little bit smarter. At one time he said “You’d make a pretty good lawyer, have you thought about college?” Well yes I did, but I knew college was very expensive. My grades in school were nothing to brag about and I knew I couldn’t get in on merit, I didn’t play sports either, so I kind of let it slide.

By behaving and doing the things I was supposed to I gained trust. Dad had given me his old pick-up a 1969 Ford. I used it to go back and forth to school, and work. I had my own parking spot in the driveway. He had gotten a company truck that he used, so he figured it was time. It was a ‘3 on the tree’ and he taught me how to drive it, very patiently I might add. Mom always made funny noises when I drove, but Dad remained calm, never saying a word. If I made a mistake he’d ask me about it, then we could figure out what I could do differently next time. He taught me how to check the oil and change it when needed, also how to check the air in the tires and look for wear on them.

When you thought I wasn't looking

When you thought I wasn’t looking -by Mary Rita Schilke Korzan

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator,
and I wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you feed a stray cat,
and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you make my favorite cake for me,
and I knew that little things are special things.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I heard you say a prayer,
and I believed that there was a God to talk to.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I felt you kiss me goodnight,
and I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw tears come from your eyes,
and I learned that sometimes things hurt,
but it's alright to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw that you cared,
and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I looked....
and I wanted to say thanks for all the things
I saw when you thought I wasn't looking.

Never let them down!

I had gotten used to having a roof over my head, food in my belly and clothes on my back.  Not one time did he ever let me down on this.  It would take me years to realize his sacrifice, doing without the things he wanted for mine and my brothers well being.  It’s not always in the words that makes a great Dad, it’s in the actions.

So what makes a Great Dad?

Someone who is there for you everyday, without fail. 
Someone who makes the punishment fit the crime and makes sure you understand why he is doing it. 
Someone who won’t lie to you and makes sure you won’t lie to them either. 
Someone who does by setting a good example.
Someone who doesn’t brag about what they are doing or make you feel bad about what they are doing without. 
Someone who works hard and you can see what they have accomplished with your own eyes.
Someone who sees your accomplishments and appreciates them.
Someone who teaches you to feel pride for a job well done.
Someone who never gives up on you.
Someone who Loves you, always.

No one ever said you have to be present at the birth to make you a Father, but Love, time and patience will make you a Great Dad!


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    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you! Yes, he is a great Dad and continues to be my hero!! I was hoping that my words would inspire other young fathers to attempt to be good fathers.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and your kind words!

    • Goyakla profile image

      Goyakla 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      This is a great hub and an amazing tribute to a father you describe so well he jumps off the page. You are very lucky as there are lots of people who cannot say the great things you have said here about you father. Wonderful hub.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      No, there is no 1 page rule. It's my page I can make it as long as I wish. The general rule is approx 1000 words for most Hubs. Nothing less than 500 words is expected. Sorry you felt it was too long.

      But thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      BTW - I got your e-mail no, I certainly wouldn't approve of you copying my work.

    • profile image

      Rookie70 7 years ago

      I thought this hub was too long. I tried reading fast to get to the end, but gosh, I thought 1 page was the overall rule.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      My Dad has always been very encouraging to me when it comes to something that I want to do. As I have grown older I have changed in my quests. I'm more of a 'Jill of all Trades' which seems to meet with his approval as well.

      My Dad is also very proud of my brother's accomplishments and is learning new things about him all the time.

      He has been a great influence in my life and I owe any and all accomplishments to his good teachings.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 7 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      sweetsusieg: You mentioned how your brother got into some trouble when he was younger. Don't you know that no matter how serious, it is a right of passage for boys to get into trouble when they are young. It's called doing what comes naturally. I know cuz I had my fair share too. Your brother and I we grew up though. Some never do.

      Dads, well my dad, most dads are loving characters, but because they are also expected to be the ones to mete out the punisher for their kids, they often come across as the bad guy, for though their punishment is most usually very fair, they may not seem fair when we receive them. Sometimes they might even seem really harsh.

      There was one time, I listened to dad though, that I regret. I was in Grade 11, and I told Dad that I was thinking of being a lawyer. He doubted my desire and learning ability, and instead or giving me encouragement to try, he discouraged me from trying. As time passed, and I was established in the work force I became involved with Unions, and as I worked my way up, I became a very knowledgable and informed union employee, one who really grasped contract negotiating and helped write and re-write several Union Contracts, one person that management respected, and in a way feared, for my knowledge. Had I studied and become a lawyer like I wanted I could probably name my own price as an arbitrator today.

      Dads are a strange breed, and like moms they are not given any special manual to follow, when it comes to raising kids. It's all trial and error, from one kid to the next.

      Brother Dave.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you Jill. YAY, we have 1st place Dads!! With so many people struggling today to be parents, I felt that I should share, for me, what made/makes a GREAT Dad. He is still there for me and I know he will have many more years with us!

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • JillKostow profile image

      Jill Kostowskie 7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      The poem brought tears to my eyes, my daughter gave me the same poem attached to a picture about 2 years ago and it still made me cry reading it today!! This was a beautiful hub about your dad..I feel the same as you regarding my dad so I guess they are tied in first place!! lol Very touching, voted up and beautiful!!

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Yes, he is a special guy, I feel very fortunate to have him for my Dad. He is extremely busy these days, he is the head of an organization which takes him all over the state in his travels. I usually get to see him about once a week though.

      His wife Irene has been keeping track of all of my writings, she has been printing off 'hard copies' and sharing them with him. When I found that out I was really pleased.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      susie - I hope your Dad is still around so you can share this beautiful hub with him. It's an amazing tribute to him and he is one very, very special father.