I'm a grown woman with grandchildren, even a few great-grandchildren. After all these years, I continue to cherish the memories of my father. I called him Daddy, and still do, even though he's been blessing heaven with his presence for a few decades.

What was it about him that fills my heart with such tender thoughts? I can think of many, but here are seven. I hope young fathers will read this and learn from his example. If they do, their children will also cherish them forever.

Seven reasons why my daddy is my hero

1. He wanted me

I came from a large family of nine children. A little girl could get lost in a crowd like that, but not me. My parents had three boys then I was born. They were so happy to get a girl they named me Joy. Later came four other brothers and one little sister. They all think they're pretty special, too. So the point is, let your kids know you want them. It doesn't matter how many you have, just be sure to cherish each one.

2. He taught me to work

He and Mom accomplished this together, but he put the emphasis on it. When my mother was not well, which was the case after her last baby was born, Daddy expected me to step up to the plate. I heard things like, "Your mother needs some extra help. Look to see what needs to be done and then do it." I took it seriously and worked hard to make her life as easy as a young teenager could; not perfectly by any means, but at least I tried. Helping your child learn to work will be a forever gift to her or him.

3. He thanked me

When I did a good job he thanked me. I loved getting those pats on the back from my daddy. Making him proud mattered to me. Showing gratitude to your kids will encourage them to do good things in their lives. Be generous with a "thank you."

4. He disciplined with love

There were times I disappointed my father, and I always felt bad about it. Yet, he was never harsh or punitive. I can't remember ever getting a spanking, but I can sure remember getting a few looks that would shape me up. If I disobeyed him, he made sure I understood that it had better never happen again. When I was a teenager, I remember going out with a boy he disapproved of. He told me I could not go out with him again. I was sad because I liked the boy. So after a football game I secretly met him at an ice cream shoppe, instead of meeting my dad at the designated pick up point. Daddy found me, came in and quietly took me out of the place in front of all my peers. It was humiliating, but I never met with that boy again. I knew my father did it because he loved me. He always made sure I understood that part. Be sure to discipline with love and plenty of follow-up.

5. He taught me about God

My father was a man of faith. He taught me that I was a child of God and that my Heavenly Father loved me. He showed me how to live the ten commandments, and many other good things. I heard him pray all my life. He and Mom gathered us kids around them and prayed with us. Daddy was a farmer, and he prayed over his crops and fields. He talked to God like he was there in the room. Sometimes I think he may have been. His example let me know that I, too, could turn to my Heavenly Father for help.

6. He was a gentleman

He treated me with respect. I never heard him use a curse word. He thought it was demeaning and not acceptable behavior. I heard other men using profanity, but never my father. It made me very proud of him. I wanted to be like that.

7. He loved and respected my mother

No one in our family ever doubted that our father adored our mother. I would see him come in from the fields and take her in his arms and kiss her. He complimented her often. He supported her in her interests. He made sure all of us treated her with respect. No one dared talk back to Mom or we would have heck to pay with Dad. There is something beautiful about a home, no matter how humble, when the father loves his wife that much. I wanted to marry a man like that. And I did.

How do you measure up?

It not easy being a dad. Every father has a heavy burden in providing for his family and raising children to be responsible adults. Every now and then, it helps to re-evaluate how you're doing. Don't expect perfection, just improvement. Take a look at these seven points and pick one as your goal. You will enjoy your daddy-duties a little more, and your children will adore you for it.

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