That Which is Most Important

Every once and a while I write a selfish post, and this happens to be one of them.

I write for me in that I want to remember exactly how I feel at this moment, especially when I’m older.

I want that guy, who is probably dealing with the unimaginable task of raising high school teens, to remember what this guy, happily managing father of 2 awesome boys, holds dear.  Without a doubt, the following thoughts come with heavy influence from my parents, friends, cousins, and the family of four I get to be a part of on a daily basis.  These thoughts are basically what’s most important to me as a dad and husband, right now.

Please and thank you

There is something unquestionably important about these simple words.  They are quickly uttered, and sometimes an afterthought more so than heartfelt, but I know in my bones that saying them is of the utmost importance.  One thing that always made me proud growing up was getting good reports from my friends’ parents after sleepovers.  “Brad always said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and was a well behaved boy.” (Yeah, while you were awake at least.)  I knew these words were important to my parents, so it was important to me to reflect as such when out and about.  I did it, I did it well and I want my sons to do it well.

Family dinner time

Probably number 1 if I was forced to rank.  My instinct here is to beat the drum about family dinners often being rushed and in front of the TV, or lament about the fact that families just live further away from each other these days and the concept of something like a big, Sunday dinner seems more like a chore than a simple tradition, but the reality is that most of us do the best we can as befitting of our lives and schedules.  In our house, we eat dinner together every single night.  Not often or sometimes.  Every.  Single.  Night.  Sometimes we eat out; sometimes joined by our parents and sometimes our friends.  We talk, we lose our minds, we love every second of it.  Obviously this tradition starts with — because we can, and I realize many families can’t, but like I said this is a selfish post.  For my money, if we aren’t sitting down together as a family to eat, then scrap the whole damn thing.


For me this means taking responsibility for your actions and words.  That’s the long and short of it.  If you do it or say it, you own it.  If I can’t do this and if I can’t teach my boys to do this, then it’s back to the drawing board.

My goal here is to always remember how important these three things are to me right now.  I write this with the anticipation that there will be a time when the boys are out and about in the world, away from my watchful eyes, but hopefully not my persistent voice inside their heads.  These are my core values, and while I can’t predict the future and know that they will always be so, for right now and with no end in sight, I’ll take all of the above.

Brad the Dad can be reached at and found on: Twitter|Facebook|Pinterest


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Enjoy a unique, fresh and entertaining perspective on parenting as Brad the Dad learns what it takes to raise 2 boys in today's world. #DadsRT co-founder.

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  1. Robert Loftus says:

    What a fantastic post. The three things you described are exactly what I want with my family. The one thing that I don’t get to do as often as I would like is the dinner time routine. Growing up we would eat dinner together every night up until about twelve. We had a great family dynamic & we were all very close. That all changed as my fathers career progressed. He started working longer hours and coming home later & later. Our family did not have that same bond it once had, and it was lost forever. My current career path is a lot of hours and not only do I rarely get to eat with them, I rarely see them at all. This is something that has to change because i care for them so much. I thank you for sharing

    • Thanks, Rob. I was hoping the conversation would go here because I totally understand that about work/schedules playing a role in making family dinner a routine. One of my last edits was to this sentence, ” if we aren’t sitting down together as a family to eat, then scrap the whole damn thing.” Originally I had “to eat dinner” and yanked “dinner” for this reason. Some families simply don’t have the option, and beyond that, who am I to say what the future holds for my family and I? What if I take a job that has me working nights? Not out of the question by any means.

      The important thing is to make do with whatever you can. Maybe family breakfast works best? Maybe you can only find time to eat together as a family 2-3 times per week? Whatever the case, in my opinion, you have to make an effort towards sitting down to eat together as family. Because like you said above, and as was my experience growing up, it’s something that strengthens the family bond like no other.

    • Great post Brad. And Rob, I’m sure tons of dads share your pain. We want (and need) to provide for our family, but doing so takes us away from the ones we love and care about the most. With my 3 boys and their busy sports schedules, family dinners are hard to come by in our house. I think what matters most is that you take the essence of what family dinners can accomplish and apply that where and when it makes sense for your family. The essence of course being a time to bond, share your thoughts, feelings and experiences of the day.
      I think we’re all searching for ways to spend less time at work and more time working on building a stronger family. I know I am. OK, gotta get back to work…

  2. Mike D says:

    Great post!

    The manners and accountability are a huge part of what I am trying to instill in my kids these days.
    I also recently changed careers because I never saw my family so I was never around for dinner with them. Now that I am, I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s a great time to communicate and bond!

    • Thanks, Mike. Same Mike D from our chat last night?

      My wife’s input on last night’s topic was parents not doing their job to adequately prepare kids for school, meaning manners/accountability/respect. She needs to be teaching them the curriculum, not the basics of life. That’s for us as parents to shoulder.

      Glad to hear your career change worked out for the better and you now get to eat dinner with your family. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Andrea says:

    Great post, and I don’t think selfish at all. Really, I think you speak for so many who are trying so hard to get it right and do what’s best for our kids given constraints of jobs and lifestyles. Sitting as a family whether at breakfast, dinner, story time … I want beyond all else for my kids to know they can talk to me and I want to hear what they have to say. It starts by sitting together and giving that chance. Thanks Brad!

  4. Brother, you’re speaking my language. These are the big 3 that lead to a career change for me. Previously, I wasn’t present and family dinners (sometimes physically, but rarely mentally). I couldn’t stand not being the greatest influence in my children’s lives. It was time for me to practice accountability and show them what really mattered to me.
    A year and a half later, well, here I am. I have the privilege of not only being present, involved, and active, but I get to surround myself with great Dads who are trying to be intentional about the same things.
    Great post, Brad.

  5. mikes_oh says:

    Yes it’s the same Mike from the chat. Thanks for the reply!

  6. James Hudyma says:

    We can’t predict the future but we can prepare for it. I can’t imagine a time when the values you’ve listed won’t be important and I believe instilling them soon will pay huge dividends for the future.

  7. Well said, Brad. Nice job!

  8. Thanks to everyone who read and commented on this article. I see you and appreciate all of your time and support. From what I’ve learned by your comments, even if you can’t find time to develop a family dinner routine, spending time together as a family, and most importantly communicating with each other during, is what counts.

  9. happiestdaddy says:

    Thanks for sharing Brad. Each family has its’ own rituals. I work nights so we eat breakfast and dinner together. It’s not the same but I look at it as we get two meals together instead of just one.
    You are on the money about “please” and “thank you.” It is a borderline obsession in our house!
    Another of my core values is getting the kids outside every day. In Florida, that’s easier to do than many other places in the country. But my goal is for the boys to play like I did — running, climbing, laughing, playing sports, riding bikes, etc. Anything to delay the inevitable day when they get hooked on video games.

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