Fatherhood provides skills at home, work

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Loren Bonser
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
As we approach Father's Day June 15, I reflect on several events in my life that have shaped my behavior as a father and a leader. One of the strangest feelings I ever had was walking out of the hospital with my first child. Her birth went fine, and she was perfectly healthy, however, the experience of carrying my new child out of the hospital made me feel very unsure of myself. Would I be a good father? Was I ready for this? Maybe I should have just stuck to being an uncle!

Soon I found most parenting skills come naturally. Even if you read all of the books in the world on parenting and took classes on the proper raising of children, they won't prepare you for everything you may encounter as a parent. But the bottom line is you need to be flexible as a father, just as you need to be flexible to lead. In some ways, both are trial by fire. I went through numerous experiences that I was not ready for as a parent, but when the event was over, I realized that I handled the situation just fine, despite the lack of confidence.

I think the toughest part about being a father is the responsibility that goes along with it. Not only do you have to provide for your child financially, but you need to put a lot of effort into the proper rearing of your child. I think much of the reason so many kids get into trouble is that their parents are not actively involved; they let the TV or computer raise them. When you look at the television shows nowadays and the easy access to websites that are not child-friendly, one shouldn't be surprised at the negative results. Proper parenting takes a lot of work and self-sacrificing effort, so does leadership.

Sigmund Freud once said "nothing in a child's life is more important than the security and protection afforded to it by a father." Basically, fathers shouldn't underestimate the influence they have on their children, and leaders shouldn't underestimate their the influence they have on their subordinates. As a child, I always looked up to my dad. He was a carpenter and worked long hours for just enough money to take care of his family. He built our house with his own hands with minimal help from others. I remember building clubhouses when I was old enough; my dad would bring home scraps of wood from his job for us to use. Part of the drive to build these clubhouses was to be like Dad. When we were finished, we would take him into the woods and show him what we made just to seek his approval; he was the leader of our home.

The most important lessons I learned from my father during my childhood involve work ethic and contentment. As a carpenter, the quality of his work was known throughout town. During his funeral, several people who worked with him came up to me to tell of my father's positive influence on them. He worked long hours in all kinds of weather and never complained. Many winters he was laid off, but he would take odd jobs that came along and was thankful for them. I tried my best to apply Dad's life principles into my military career.

I knew ever since I was in the eighth grade I was going to join the Air Force, but had no idea what I was getting into. Here I am, almost 22 years later, and I have accomplished things in my career I never thought I would. Every base I have been stationed on, I have always tried to be that "go-to" person when a big job comes. I tried to allow my drive and abilities to lead the way and my supervisors usually took notice. Even with the less visible tasks, I would get the job done to the best of my abilities and move on to the next mission. My attitude stayed positive and my determination to be the best at what I do flourished. The life principles of my father made me the man that I am and allowed me to have the attitude necessary for career advancement.

My patriotism also flourished as I saw first-hand the mission of the United States military. As I married and had children, my mission to protect America and keep it free became even more important. After visiting other countries and observing how children live in other countries, my responsibilities as a father became amplified. I wanted to make sure I did my share to keep my family safe.

Although I didn't have a perfect childhood, I learned numerous lessons from my father which I have used in my life as a military member and father. I plan on passing these life lessons on to my children.

Although everyone grows up differently, the lessons and experiences we go through as we progress through childhood into adulthood can be a valuable asset to us as parents and as Airman.