Father’s Day is coming soon. To promote the occasion, TV commercials and magazine ads picture dad getting his due on his day swinging a shiny, new golf club or napping in the backyard hammock.
I had the opportunity to visit with three local fathers and talk about the real gifts of Father’s Day.
Gifts for dads come in many forms. Rodney Erakovich, a senior manager of merchandise for Radio Shack, knows this is true. He and his wife Bernadette are parents to three boys. A blended family, Erakovich is stepfather to 11-year old Angel, 10-year old Caleb and biological father to 4-year old Isaiah.
All three boys have different interests. “We try to spend as much time as possible together as a family doing things like going to the park, watching movies or even grilling dinner in the backyard,” Erakovich said.
He added that the best thing about being a father is having the opportunity to set an example for his sons on how to grow into young men, teaching them what respect is and how they should treat other people.
“It is one thing for mom to teach them, or tell them how to act, but I think it is important for them to see it in action and witness the example set by their father,” he said.
Spiritualism is an important part of the Erackovich household. “I want to teach my sons about God — that it’s okay to pray and ask for forgiveness.” Erakovich said.
The family attends Dallas’ Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) where Bernadette sings in the choir and Rodney assists with children’s school.
Like many churches, Central Christian Church celebrates “children’s church” during Sunday Worship. Children are invited to join the pastor at the alter for a special lesson, prepared just for them. Last Father’s Day, during “children’s church” the pastor asked each child what he or she thought their Heavenly Father would like for Father’s Day.
“Love, obedience and kindness,” were some of the answers to her question. When the microphone was passed to young Caleb, he suggested that God might like a new grill.
We don’t know if God got a new grill, but Erackovich confirmed that he did. We’ll have to wait and see what’s in store for him this year.
Sean Parsons, a local real estate broker for RE/MAX DFW Associates, is father to 4-year old Elena and 2-year old David. He can already see there's a difference between parenting a girl and a boy.
“Although my son isn’t quite out of diapers, I believe that the trust between father and son starts early and never stops,” Parsons said.
“I want to see my daughter blossom and become confident in who she is and who God created her to be. The name ‘Elena’ is descended from the word ‘light’ and I believe she is a light to all around her,” he said.
“My son loves to play with trains and he has recently been gaining skills to show me he is a builder and a thinker,” Parsons said. “A genuinely happy little guy, he walks into a room shouting “Hi” to everyone.”
Parsons said his daughter has an extensive vocabulary for her age and a way with words. A charmer, she can already make you feel like you are the only person in the room, “an endearing trait inherited from her mother,” he added.
“As a father, I find true pleasure in teaching, training and making disciples of my children, “Parsons said. He believes that the best way to accomplish this is to be around. Being near them and available for them is the best way to make them feel safe and protected and to encourage their emotional growth.
A strong spiritual life is important to Parsons and his wife, Suzanne, and they are actively involved at NormandyCommunityChurch. Parsons wants his children to understand the value in gaining oneness and unity in a friendship or a relationship, especially the ultimate relationship, the one with God.
And what does he want for his children when they grow up? He thinks they can accomplish anything they want. “I want to help them dream and become world changers.”
Will Short and his wife Anna have been friends of mine ever since they moved to our historic neighborhood over a decade ago. Short and his wife are both involved in real estate and he is an active participant in our Lower Greenville community. He is also father to 7- year old Skylar and 4-year old Wolf.
“Being a parent, I can finally comprehend how my father feels about me,” Short said. “It’s as if I have been let in on the secret that all parents know – that you will do anything for your children.”
When taking about his daughter, who he describes as “an amazing little girl,’ Short recognizes the challenges often faced by women. “I hope to teach Skylar that her mind and her character are as important as her physical beauty and to understand that she should want to be loved for herself and not for what she thinks the world wants her to be,” he said. “The best way to instill these values, I believe, is by the way I treat her mother.”
Short wants his son to know that he is loved unconditionally and that his father is proud of him no matter where his life takes him. “I will always encourage him to be the best he can be, but still let him know that failure is a learning tool,” he said.
“I want both my daughter and my son to want to achieve high goals and never settle for mediocrity. Although moderate emotional pressure is a good motivator, I want to avoid impressing my desires (above their own desires) on them. They need to know that they can accomplish just about anything they can imagine for themselves, and I will be happy with whatever that is, so long as they follow their dreams,” Short said.
Always enjoying time together, free time in the Short household is spent playing games, working puzzles, watching movies and cooking together.
“My kids make me want to be a better person … everyday,” Short said.
Happy Father’s Day to these three fathers and to all the men we’ve loved and called “dad.”