Father's Day

So today is Father’s day. I will get a gift from my wife and kids and they always do a great job with that. And I appreciate it very much.

But honestly the greatest gift I have ever received is my three kids (and my wonderful wife who made them in more ways that one). I get so much joy from my kids. They make me laugh. They make me proud. They test me. They teach me. And it gets better and better over time. I don’t live with them anymore (our son does still live with us in the summer) but I continue to have meaningful relationships with them and as they mature and become fully productive adults they have become friends, confidants, and partners.

I know that father’s day is a day for my family to thank me but I honestly feel like I am the one who should be saying thanks today. And so consider this post just that.

#life lessons

Comments (Archived):

  1. JLM

    .In the truest measure of poverty, it is the lack of parental love, concern, guidance which defines it.Your children are very well off in that regard.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Yup, what you are talking about is sometimes called social capital, and you just explained why that is appropriate.To count how rich our country is, we also have to count social capital.

      1. Martha Murray

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    2. LE

      However let’s not kid ourselves without a solid and stable middle class income today it’s pretty difficult to be a ‘good parent’ with love only and for your kids to get a good education (because you won’t be in a neighborhood with good schools).I am reminded of a girl that I was dated years ago. Her father was a school teacher and got off early from work (relative to other dads). Also in the summer they had camp time together. He was always around and there for her. Her comment to me was “I wish he earned a better living and we didn’t live in this small house”. The love thing w/o money at least for her didn’t go that far.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        My guess would be that she picked up that concern from one or both of her parents. That is, they expressed that they wished they had a bigger house. If all the family had just, as is said, counted their blessings, then she might have been a lot happier, as she very much should have been.There’s a lot of that stuff — bigger house, newer, more expensive car, better country club, more vacations to expensive places, instead of Grandad’s little 60 foot yacht and Dad’s 100′ foot yacht, finally, after waiting all this time, we’re getting our 200′ foot yacht. What all that really counts for? Zip, zilch, and zero.A yacht is a hole in the water you pour money into, but if you don’t have to ask the price then maybe such a toy can be some fun. Otherwise what’s important is what Fred and JLM already explained, and to that a 200′ toy replaces none of it and adds not very much.Want to do social climbing and be with the “best people”? Okay, that can be good. Then look at the little guy down the street, 13, on his own already through college calculus and into linear algebra. And the guy 12, well into one of the Paganini caprices. And the guy 16 who just bought his pickup and trailer, both used, has $30,000 worth of lawn mowing machinery (all of which he bought used and repaired), and in the summers hires kids on the street for his lawn mowing business and hires them again in the winters for his snow plowing business — his mom helps with customer services, e.g., getting out the annual fall thank you notes and the Xmas cards to the customers. His dad got him to sit in on a community college course on lawn care. Also notice the guy 14 who brought up the Web site for his junior high class.So, to meet the “best people”, meet those four. Have a backyard BBQ and invite them over. Work through the piano part of a Mozart sonata and invite the violin guy for a duet. He will likely be able to sight read the Mozart piece!If struggling with high school algebra, invite over the linear algebra guy.Uh, what she really wants is feelings of security, and the best source of that is good relationships within the family.

        1. LE

          My guess would be that she picked up that concern from one or both of her parents. That is, they expressed that they wished they had a bigger house.Well I kind of agree with that but you have to also keep in mind that no matter how much perspective the parents have the kids are also exposed to family and friends and what they think. And today they also have exposure to what others have and say on the internet.If all the family had just, as is said, counted their blessingsWell in theory sounds good. But look at it this way. If people didn’t have envy, jealousy and aspirations, the world wouldn’t go that far now would it? (Positives and negative of course to that I agree). Look at how many cool inventions we have because men (generally it’s been men) are looking to swing the bigger (for lack of a way to put it, sorry for the language) dick? Or keeping up with the Jones’s. We wouldn’t have the Internet if not for the Russians nor would we have had most likely the moon program or the transistor. At least not when we did have them might have come later at some point. Men wanting things (and for that matter men wanting things to impress women) has driven many good things in this world that we enjoy.A yacht is a hole in the water you pour money into, but if you don’t have to ask the price then maybe such a toy can be some fun. Otherwise what’s important is what Fred and JLM already explained, and to that a 200′ toy replaces none of it and adds not very much.A yacht is good (for some people that is) for the social experiences it gives you and opens you up to. Just like if you have a nice ski place or summer place you will have endless line of people that would be glad to visit you. And be your friend. From the lawn guy to some accomplished professor of medicine to the mailman. This is something that I noticed when I had a small (24′) boat. All the sudden people came out of the woodwork and invited themselves to come down and enjoy. Really boldly like “hey what are you doing this weekend?” That really bothered me a great deal and I thought that if that happens with so little (small boat) imagine all of the fake friends that wealthy people must accumulate.

        2. Matt Zagaja

          Having gone through times in my life where I’ve had more money and times with less money I will just say there is something special about being able to go to sleep at night not worrying that if something breaks you have the cash in the bank to cover it. It took me years to get there. I have worked with people whose drug addicted siblings have sold their computers for drug money. Makes a huge qualitative difference in the ability of someone to do their homework. Many of these issues are way too small for our legal system to be able to do anything meaningful about (and even if they could you cannot let blood from stone).That being said there is huge value to a social network. In college I had the wheel bearings die on my automobile. The shop wanted $1800 to repair them, it wasn’t an easy job. There was no way I could afford that (and honestly it didn’t make sense at the time). I had a couple hundred dollars I could offer to cover the actual parts along with a token amount to thank a roommate of mine that makes money repairing and reselling old BMWs to do the repair in the school shop. When people come to me with a broken computer I think about that generosity and try and pay it forward.

      2. laurie kalmanson

        as we can see by the epidemics of misery and addiction overtaking the deindustrialized parts of the us. the best science fiction is always just a few steps ahead; william gibson’s latest, “the peripheral,” takes place in a near future where post-industrial rural poverty is widespread and the hustling, smart, poor people and their PTSD war veteran friends do the equivalent of gold-farming for virtual reality gamers, make/sell designer drugs, and have day jobs at the local 3D printing shop; the plot starts there.

    3. awaldstein

      Truer words were never spoken.As I think about my father, now gone a generation ago. My childhood where attention and concern and love trumped any vestige of economic privilege, I see myself lucky and thankful.

  2. Pointsandfigures


  3. William Mougayar

    Well said. Being proud is an amazing inner feeling, as much as you express it.

  4. sigmaalgebra

    Ah, now we know, for sure, no doubt, Fred’s a bright guy!

  5. JimHirshfield

    Alexa, play “Thank You” by Led Zeppelin.Alexa stop.Alexa, play “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens.Alexa stop.Alexa, play “Daughters” by John Mayer.Alexa stop.Alexa, make blueberry pancakes.

    1. fredwilson

      that last bit would be awesome

      1. JimHirshfield

        Someone’s working on it; for batter or worse.

        1. bsoist

          okay, that’s not bad 🙂

        2. Richard

          flippant attitude

    2. laurie kalmanson

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…”There Will Come Soft Rains” is a short story by science fiction author Ray Bradbury which was first published in the May 6, 1950 issue of Collier’s. Later that same year the story was included in Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles (1950)The story begins by introducing the reader to a computer-controlled house that cooks, cleans, and takes care of virtually every need that a well-to-do United States family could be assumed to have. The reader enters the text on the morning of August 4, 2026, and follows the house through some of the daily tasks that it performs as it prepares its inhabitants for a day of work …

  6. Mike Zamansky

    So well said.For years, I saw and appreciated the pride and joy my father in law glowed with when all his children gathered from afar but It was only when we became parents and as our kids grew up did I really get it.

  7. bsoist

    Exactly how I feel! Both of my kids are with me today too, which is awesome!

    1. LE

      One of my daughters (still in college) is with her boyfriends family. That is fine with me. ( I am glad that she has a nice boyfriend.) The other daughter called me and is en-route in her car on a 4 hour trip for the place that she works at. On Sunday. (I am glad that she got a good job after graduating from college). I asked if she was getting paid mileage for driving and she said that she was. I asked her if she stopped on the road “do you put your food on the expense report.?” She said she didn’t feel comfortable doing that. At that point I launched into a lecture on why she had to get over feeling that way. [1] It boiled down to “They will either like the work that you do and keep you, or not like the job you are doing and get rid of you”. And if times get tough they will either need what you do or lay you off. Don’t think that by being ‘nice’ (like that) it will mean anything at all, it generally won’t”.My stepkids are with their dad. As anyone with divorce kids knows, it’s great to have an empty house every other week (mom agrees by the way).Opposing points of view on the food issue, I’d be curious how others handle this:http://www.businessinsider….https://www.themuse.com/adv…[1] My point wasn’t that there wasn’t any risk to what she was doing given a small amount of money to gain. I simply wanted to get her into a different way of thinking and overvaluing not taking risk. And instead standing up for yourself even in a small way and getting what she deserved. (For example she is afraid to ask for a raise). Now of course if there is a specific written policy I wouldn’t advise her to go against that but apparently that isn’t the case.

      1. Matt Zagaja

        Expense reports are one of the stranger beasts I’ve encountered in the world. It’s often not clear what is or isn’t covered. I learned to just put everything on it and let the money people decide if it counts or not. Sadly have not yet learned to remember to save all my receipts from my cash transactions but I tend to presume if I don’t expense 3 meals a day that’s when they don’t mind if I go over the limit on a dinner somewhere (at least they haven’t so far).

        1. LE

          Sadly have not yet learned to remember to save all my receipts from my cash transactionsYou shouldn’t need receipts for trivial amounts. You should be able to provide a statement that gives the company backup for their records. That said you don’t have to save the receipts just shoot a quick photo of the receipt and use that.I just tipped a driver $15 for a sofa delivery for an office. I just make a note on paper that I did that and (for tax purposes where only if you get audited does it matter) I will use that as my “backup”. No need to get them to even sign that they got the money. Nobody is sending anyone to jail for small trivial amounts of money.Any accounting department that tells you otherwise is wet behind the ears. I get requests from government agencies and some companies who want a w-9 for, say, a $50 payment. I tell them we don’t issue those for small amounts like that, they aren’t needed (this is a matter of principal with me) and they go away.

  8. creative group

    FRED:If we reflect on the commercial underpinnings of these special days of acknowledgement it would be more aligned with paganism. Everyday is Mothers and Fathers Day. You don’t get be a Mother or Father once a year. It is everyday. Stop patting yourself on the back, being a parent is a lifetime commitment, first parenting and then counseling when children reach adulthood.

  9. Lee Blaylock

    Agreed 100%! One of your best posts ever. Anyone can have a child but it takes a real man to be a father. Happy Father’s Day to all!

  10. Ken Greenwood

    Could not have said it any better. Feeling very, very thankful today, as opposed to feeling like I should be thanked. Thanks for sharing. Happy Father’s Day!

  11. Mario Cantin

    This puts a new spin on the American Dream….

  12. laurie kalmanson

    art camp this week …. ssssssshhhhhhhhh

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      This is the best thing ever, most particularly because of the cats. I’d love to know the backstory! Do you have that many cats? 😀 (Somebody’s a talented artist, btw!)

      1. laurie kalmanson

        Thank you for the kind words about my daughter. Last week’s art camp was cartoons and comics, and one of the topics was superheroes. It was her idea to make the project a Father’s Day gift. Timing is everything.Talent without effort is worth nothing, and she has both; and while internal motivation is the mainspring for everything, recognition strengthens it — being named featured artist for her grade this year, and earning two Scholastic awards brought her into the spotlight. It has been wonderful to see her friends and her school support her interests.The cats are true to life in scale and pattern — we had two older dogs when my daughter was born, but converted to the cat side over time. When one dog passed, we got another dog; when the other passed, we got a cat. The cat and the last dog got along but they were not BFFs, so we got another cat so the cat could have a friend; when the final dog passed, we replaced it with a cat . We were going to stop there, and live by the “one pet per person” rule, but three cats seemed like an odd number, so we are now in the penalty zone. No more additions until current occupancy changes, which is likely to be years.Here’s another project from cartoons/comics class: the robot reminds me of the Bradbury story, “There Will Come Soft Rains,” — it dispenses any food you want, eliminating the need for cooking, just like his automatic stove — but the Cold War doesn’t mean anything to a child born after 9/11; the things the world fears are different for this generation.https://uploads.disquscdn.c

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Oh, this is *great*! Yay for your talented girl!!!My daughter is quite similar; lots of natural talent, driven to create, and getting constant feedback that her talent is valuable drives her. It’s so much fun to watch.Thank you so much for the background on the cats. After all, much of art is the story behind it 😉

          1. laurie kalmanson

            hooray for talented, creative girls, with the support to perfect their gifts! thanks for asking for the story; i also always want to know it.

          2. laurie kalmanson

            Also, while I am thankful every day that we can send my daughter to a school that offers so much, and line her up with a summer of enrichment camps, there’s the question of why all schools don’t offer all children the resources to fulfill all their talents — the AVC Donors Choose challenges were a great step in that direction, but charity isn’t enough.http://avc.com/2014/02/what

          3. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Amen. I guess I feel that our schools shouldn’t have to rely on charity at all. Sigh.

          4. laurie kalmanson


    2. Lawrence Brass

      wow, superdad’s flying ‘wingcats’!

  13. laurie kalmanson

    “I don’t live with them anymore” — people tell me that parents are ready for it when the time comes, and it is our job to raise them to be just as you said, but … i must have something in my eye

  14. Tom Labus

    Our guys are on their own in nyc but I still see them everywhere in the house

    1. JLM

      .I am getting ready to sell the house in which my kids grew up and you hit it the nail on the head. I am selling a lot of memories.I look in each room and see them both constantly — but the dogs also.In almost 40 years in ATX, I have lived in two houses.Happy Father’s Day, Tom.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Happy Father’s Day, Jeff.

      2. Tom Labus

        Thanks, Jeff and good luck with the move.

  15. Richard

    One of the genetic miracles of life is that practically every dad genuially feels this way about his kids.

  16. BillMcNeely

    I shared your post with my son Colgan he found it interesting and then told me he was upset with me for not being able to do something with him today. ( He lives with Mom and I have to drive for Uber to pay the bills)

  17. Larry Putterman

    Great thought! I agree

  18. Donna Brewington White

    Happy Father’s Day, Fred.

  19. DJL

    Happy Father’s Day, Fred. I had coffee with my Father in Detroit and then dinner with my two kids and wife in Houston. Luckiest guy in the world today.

  20. Mark Essel

    Happy belated poppa’s day bartender!Had a great weekend, loaded a dumpster of cleaning at my pops Saturday (an odd but essential gift from my bro and I), followed by a good bbq at Michelle’s pops Sunday.

  21. Ronnie Rendel

    I’m sure it was said before in the comments, but not only are you extremely fortunate, Fred, but more so your kids.My parents were both deceased before I was 17, but in the years I had with them were more meaningful then most people experience in a lifetime.More then once I have heard from people who grew up with parents who while loved them dearly did not openly show affection or much attention, how thankful I should be to have had that. It literally changes how a person views the world, their capacity to feel for others, etc.

  22. howardlindzon

    great points. luckily its almost exactly same for me…college almost