Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tim Russert, a father who art in heaven...by Sybil Adelman Sage

This father's day weekend has been a non-stop tribute to Tim Russert, deservedly as he remained at the top of his profession and passionately committed to his job and work family yet never at the expense of his family, which included, even at the age of 58, his father. It's lamentable that a man managing this emotional multi-tasking is being noted with awe when, ideally, it should be the norm.

It's hard to single out which of the many attributes noted by Russert's colleagues were most valued, but his devotion to his and everyone else's family was mentioned by all. Regardless of whom we help, mentor or advise, it's our children who are most affected by us and who continue to experience our presence long after we're gone.

Though it's not always easy to figure out when and how to best be there for them, ironically, it can include backing off. Our kids may appreciate hearing, "Good try" when they've struck out in Little League only to feel patronized and wince at it years later. Parenting is dynamic. We have to accommodate that they change and read their faces to understand what they're feeling and needing, whether it's articulated or withheld.

We need to pass a test in order to get a driver's license or even to sell real estate, yet parenting, the most important job one can have, is open to anyone. It's up to us to set the standards, to give unconditional love and support. Those of us married to men who are a responsible and loving presence to our children can embrace today and say: Happy Father's Day. I'm lucky enough to be among them.