Good Life

Fathering: A dad’s list to share values

My middle son graduated from high school yesterday, and I’ve been thinking — what should I share to help him prepare for his transition to college? Will he embrace some of life’s more important values when he’s living on his own next year, like compassion, and helping others? Will he have the patience, or the decision-making abilities he needs when he’s confronted with new situations? These items would read like a bucket list of attributes and experiences – at a higher level than we’ve discussed before — that I’m hoping he’ll better understand as he enters adulthood.

Action ideas

Consider brainstorming a list, ideally with your spouse, of the qualities, or even specific skills that you’d like your child (no matter his/her age) to learn and develop. Create an action plan that outlines opportunities to incorporate these over the coming months.

Think about this list in the broadest terms. What are some attributes that would have been helpful to understand when you were younger? Were there gaps when you were growing up, that you don’t want your child to miss as well?

Consider creating an ethical will to organize your thoughts about your family, community and personal values. Having prepared these thoughts on various topics, you can more easily draw from them when the moment is right to discuss with your child. Find great examples and guidance at

My list includes things I now realize I should have stressed more with my two oldest kids: traveling more, really learning a foreign language, showing appreciation, etc. What’s on your list?

The local fathering effort, in cooperation with the National Center for Fathering, provides monthly Action Ideas to stimulate conversation between fathers and parents. For more information, or to join local conversations, contact David Eggebeen at , Robert Orndorff at Mick Trombley at , Chris Dufour at , Mark Oleynik at , or Marc McCann at . See the Centre County Fathering website for resources and information at .