There’s this joke that goes something like this: A father and his son were watching a 1930’s film on TV. As it ended with the usual 1930’s romantic clinch and fade out, the teenager said, “Gosh, Pop, your movies ended where ours begin.” As a dad and son I can understand this joke twice over. The generation gap is there and will always be there no matter what. As a dad or a son you have to work around them to see who and what each other is. In my endless search for improving myself both as a dad and a son I came across the following that I would like to share with you. I’ve edited it down into a shorter more relevant form. – Will Nicholls


On Father’s Day you may get another “interesting” tie, the latest golf gadget or a pair of wild boxer shorts. And then your kids may do something that really makes you feel like a king. Soak it all in, because you deserve it and it’s good for your children to honor you.

But as you’re celebrating, don’t forget that you’re also a son, and it’s good for you to honor your father or father figure.

There is something in us-written on our hearts-that says, “Honor your father and mother.” That’s how it’s stated in the Bible, but you’ll find it in all the world’s religions. Ancient Chinese Analects advise, “Surely proper behavior to parents and elder brothers is the [tree] trunk of goodness.”

Your father deserves your honor and appreciation for all he means to you-if for no other reason than simply that he is your father.

Dishonor toward a father is a dangerous form of vandalism. That is true culturally, but also personally. Gordon Dalbey writes, “We had better teach our sons mercy. A man who curses his father… curses his own manhood.”

If you want your children to honor you, model it by honoring your father on Father’s Day and all year.

Honoring Dad is no problem for some men. Honor flows forth whenever they’re with their dad. It’s evident in their tone of voice every time they talk to him, and in their efforts to keep in touch and continue a close relationship.

What kinds of memories can you conjure up that will help you honor your dad? What was your favorite vacation? What did you enjoy doing with your dad? What smells and sounds remind you of him? Was there a favorite book he read to you or a song you sang together? What was your favorite family tradition? What do you remember about your dad’s place of work? What were his hobbies? What did he encourage you to be involved in? Did he ever coach you or teach you a skill? What is your funniest memory with your dad or with your family? Think about birthdays and holidays, and memorable gifts he gave you.

What did people in the community think of your dad? What sacrifices did he make for you? Which of his character qualities do you now see in yourself? What was the greatest life lesson you learned from him? What did he teach you about being a father?

These positive memories should provide plenty of ammunition to barrage your dad with expressions of honor and blessing.

As two adults, your relationship will be more of a friendship than it’s ever been. You’ll make effort to stay in touch and go out of your way to include him in family activities. You’ll both affirm and esteem one another and look for common interests you can develop and share together. As time passes, your dad may depend on you more and more, whether it’s helping with heavy lifting around the house or, as he ages, driving him to doctor’s appointments, helping with financial burdens, or even assuming full responsibility for his care.

But the benefits far outweigh the inconveniences.

Your father probably has a childlike wonder when it comes to his grandkids, and he is honored when you encourage him to be involved in their lives.

He possesses a certain magic that’s unique to granddads, and it serves as an important part of instilling a sense of family: hosting holiday gatherings, teaching your daughter that trick where it looks like he’s pulling his thumb in two, or showing your son his old pocket knife, worn smooth from years in his overalls. His attic is full of treasures. He’s lived through wars, hard times, cultural changes, and even your childhood.

Grandfathers can be powerful influences in a child’s life when we encourage them to be. It’s been said that “when an old person dies, a library bums down.” Be sure your children visit that library often while they can.

You can also honor him by telling your children about him-how he lived as a child and a young man, what he has accomplished in his life, and his qualities as a father. (This one works even if your father has passed away.) Talk about the values you learned that you hope remain in the family for generations to come. Get out old photos and other mementos of the past to stimulate your child’s questions and your own memories.

It is your father’s deep desire to pass on something positive-skills, values and traditions-to the coming generation. In a culture where he may feel “in the way” or “out of touch,” you can honor him by affirming the vital contribution he can make to your life and the lives of your children.

This article was adapted from Ken Canfield’s book The Heart of a Father.