Years ago I was sitting with a group of student leaders going through a training session about university services. The head of the counseling department was explaining all the programs his office offered, and he mentioned they even provide relationship counseling. He asked our group, “How many of you want a relationship like your parents have?” I raised my hand immediately and then found everyone staring at me. There were no other raised hands in the room. The counseling director was trying to make the point that no one wants a relationship like their parents, and he was mostly right.

I, however, didn’t even have to ponder the question. My parents had a beautiful relationship that had always been my standard of what a marriage should be. Maybe that’s why I was a bachelor late into my thirties. I was not willing to settle for a typical relationship when my parents had shown me all my life how awesome a marriage could be.

The way my dad loved my mom was even more instructive than the way he loved me and my sister. And he was, and is, an amazing, inspiring, kind-hearted father and grandfather. But I’ve never known anyone who loved another as much as my dad loves my mom. I never heard him utter a sharp word to her. He put her first in everything. His highest aim was to delight her.

My parents modeled love in a powerful way, and dad doesn’t hesitate to let me know he expects the best from me, too. Shortly after I got married, my wife and I visited my parents’ home. They stood on the porch as we got in the car to drive away. Minutes later I got a phone call from my dad. “Son, I saw that you didn’t open the car door for Shanna as you left. Even though you’re married now, especially now that you’re married, you need to keep treating her like you did when you were dating.”

Thanks, dad, for continuing to remind me in word and deed to love my wife and kids with no ordinary love, and to show my own kids what they need to expect and create in their relationships.

On Father’s Day we are supposed to acknowledge the role that dad’s play in the lives of their children. It’s not enough to just be there for your kids, though, dads. Be awesome for the moms, too. The John Mayer song implores “fathers be good to your daughters”, yes, but being good to the mother of your daughters and sons is just as important.

Mom & Dad, 1958

Mom & Dad, 1958