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Be optimistic on Father’s Day

By Dave Bartholomay
June 2021

This Father’s Day I have a challenge for every father out there… be an optimist!

Optimism is one of the most important traits a father can have.  To be optimistic and positive as we guide our children to adulthood. To be optimistic and grateful for our family and friends, and for our community.

I don’t believe that optimism is a view of the world untethered from the reality of the day. Optimism can be pragmatic, can be grounded in the facts, and can see the nastiness of life.

As my favorite author Simon Sinek says, “Optimism is about the future. It is not blind positivity nor is it naïve. It is not seeing the glass as half full and ignoring the half of the glass that is empty. It is the ability to see the emptiness of half the glass while choosing to focus on the fullness of the other half of the glass. It is the ability to see the good in the face of the bad. It is the practice of looking for the silver-linings in any cloud.”  

Why is it so important for fathers (and mothers) to be optimistic today? Because our children need us to be role models that will lift them up when they are feeling down. They need us to believe in a better future for the world, even when the news is grim, and the pandemic has thrown us all for a loop. Parents need to consistently demonstrate a personal belief that each and every one of us are lifelong learners. That we can have positive relations with others; that we can be seen as a force for good rather than an angry, distant parent who blames others and sees nothing but storm clouds on the horizon.

I’m not saying that some folks haven’t been dealt a bad hand, because they have.  And I’m not saying that life is fair, because it isn’t. We can’t go back to some 1950s view that everything was great in the good old days, because the harsh truth is that those days weren’t so great for everyone. But rather than complain and tell our children that the world is going down the drain, we need to demonstrate with our optimism and our actions that we can all work together to improve our families and our community. And that includes working arm in arm with people who don’t think like us, who don’t look like us, and who don’t vote like us.

Why is this so important now?

Because we are living in a fast-changing, chaotic time that likely won’t be settling down for a while.  A time when every kid needs to know that their family and their community loves and supports them.  Kids aren’t looking to a president or a governor to improve their life and world. They’re looking to us, their father, mother, and others that lead their household. They’re waiting for us to step up, to show some optimism, and to demonstrate grace and empathy for others who may be different or are struggling.

Yes, it has always been easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize others, to mistakenly think that someone else’s gain is a loss for us and our way of life. But imagine if instead we demonstrated some compassion and understanding, if we were open to learning and changing our mind, and if we saw optimism and working together as the best way to build a better life for everyone.  Just imagine the optimistic message that sends to our children, just when they need it most!

Happy (Optimistic) Father’s Day!

Dave Bartholomay is the mayor of Circle Pines.


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