Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Greatest Gifts a Father Can Give

"Growth means change and change involves risk, stepping from the known to the unknown." -- Author Unknown

Four downturns in, this daddy takes a look back.

I was a teenager in the early 1980s recession, in my twenties during the early 1990s recession, in my thirties during the bust, and in my forties when the global pool of money melted down the world's economic engine, I became a father to two beautiful little girls.

During the first two I had steady jobs -- working in the produce department at a grocery store in my hometown and then working in alumni relations and fundraising at SJSU, my alma mater.

The third was a demise where we all lost our jobs and then the latest involves making a living stringing together risky business endeavors post a long-time leadership position in a local firm.

I read at the end of last year that millenials (i.e., Gen Y, those born somewhere between the mid-1970′s and the early 2000′s) will have at least 7-8 careers in their lifetimes. I’m a Gen Xer and I’ve already had 6 now. The top concern for many daddies (and mommies) of any generation today is to stay afloat financially in the Bermuda Triangle of jobs, homes and keeping food on the table.

Four downturns in and I take an even further look back at the careers of my dad and my grandfather, because we all share generational contrasts in lifetime careers and the cobbling together of others.

My dad was a mechanic in the Air Force. After serving he then returned to his home town of Porterville where he became mechanic foreman for the local Chevrolet dealer. This was back in the 1960s when you could practically listen to a car and diagnose its problem. After that he went in a completely different direction and became a police officer where he spent the rest of his career, complete with a short stint as a deputy sheriff in the South Pacific and then eventually becoming a "special agent" in charge of the forgery and fraud division at the Visalia Police Department (my hometown) where he happily retired.

My grandfather (my mom's dad), according to his own incessant quoting, was a "Jack of all trades and master of none." He worked on the railroads back in his home state of Missouri. He then moved the family West to California's Central Valley where he worked odds jobs before working on the Friant-Kern Canal construction. When he hurt his back he went into life insurance sales until he retired. But even retirement didn't slow him down; he worked as a custodian in a middle school for many years after. And throughout his whole life he was an avid tinkerer, watch and clock fixer and home gardener. I remember watching with magnetic fascination my grandfather fixing the tiniest of watches and watch parts with the biggest of hands and fingers.

Through thick and thin they both took care of their families. For the most part none of their children really knew the financial struggles they went through, because the greatest gifts a father can give his children are love, security and presence, all of which transcend economic peaks and valleys when passed on in kind.

Happy Father's Day, Dad and Grandpa. I'm passing them on in kind.

Besides, how can we go wrong with clipping these kinds of coupons?

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