President Karis: Being a dad should make us want to be our best selves
One isn't a father just at home; we also remain fathers to our children while we're at work. They don't have two dads — one in the spotlight as a politician and another making burgers at home. That's still one dad. And being a father should make us want to be the best version of ourselves, President Alar Karis said in a Father's Day speech in Rapla on Sunday.
Dear fathers and grandfathers, mothers, grandmothers and children here in Rapla and throughout Estonia!
A father is a father. Like it or not, he is our role model; we pick up behaviors and patterns from him. We seek his approving look and supportive word. And it determines a lot for us. Sometimes even our entire future.
Young children keep their fathers' gaze on them and close to ensure that the simplest everyday activities go smoothly. Their first steps and words. And then a million questions soon follow — why and how.
There are dads who are dedicated to their child — whether in their actions or at least in their thoughts. His love provides encouragement and, if necessary, comfort. He knows how to direct his child to seek and find, and how to teach them to differentiate between doubt and confidence. He knows how to correctly build a relationship with his future generation. He knows he's a role model, and that his steps will forge a path.
But not everyone has such a father. Not everyone knows or is capable of being such fathers. Still, it's never too late to try, as nobody is born a good father. That is learned. Through will, patience and love, giving first and foremost the gift of their time.
In one interview, poet Kristiina Ehin, who has roots in Rapla County, recalled childhood nature hikes where her dad would conjure soda bottles out of tree hollows and pull smoked sausage out from behind a rock.
"He'll always be the father for whom everyday things like a potato, bathroom, attic or wood shed were just runways from which to launch poems with wild twists," Ehin said about her father Andres. "He'll always be the father who never drove a car, but would sing enchanting jazz and blues parts to my mother behind the wheel from the passenger's seat."
Yes, most men and fathers don't write poetry. But being a father should make us want to be the best version of ourselves. For kids, there's no such thing as everyday; everything is special. And being a dad can bring something special to the everyday.
I have taught my children to remain courteous and to be understanding of others. And they, in turn, have taught that to their children. That in all circumstances, we are courteous, we don't insult or snap, we don't want to strike with our words and hurt people with our sentences. Now I watch debates in the Riigikogu, however, and think: are all fathers setting the same example for their children as politicians of remaining courteous and being understanding of others? I can't answer that in the affirmative, and that leaves me baffled and powerless.
A father is a role model. A father is and will remain a father. One isn't a father just at home; we also remain fathers to our children while we're at work. They don't have two dads — one in the spotlight as a politician and another making burgers at home. That's still one dad. A dad that shouldn't make their children ashamed or feel embarrassed, even in the searing heat of election campaigns.
Mutual courtesy and a respectful attitude toward others make us all better; rudeness begets anger and hate. A father doesn't do that.
Let's also think appreciatively on Father's Day of those who act as fathers to children. This role is often filled by a teacher, coach or activity leader. One's community will often stand in numbers together behind an incomplete or broken family. Or when a father works further away from home to put food on his family's table.
All of you who fulfill the role of dad with joy and love deserve thanks and acknowledgement. You are needed, and you are waited for. Being and learning how to be a dad never ends.
Happy Father's Day!
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Editor: Aili Vahtla