Talkin' with Trav: What I learned about fathering, from my mom

By Travis Hansen

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, March 14 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

My wife has a talent of finding the cheesiest movies ever made. I don't know where or how she finds them, but she's a pro. We love to watch movies as a family on Friday nights. A few weeks ago she was excited to announce her new findings in a movie called "Courageous." I was expecting another cheesy Hallmark-like movie when she started it.

As the movie streamed along I was pleasantly surprised by how great the message was. In fact it is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time.

It portrays four policemen with one calling: To serve and protect. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood.

While they consistently give their best on the job, good enough seems to be all they can muster as dads. But they're quickly discovering that their standard is missing the mark. A truly inspirational movie. It touched me and by the end I was truly committed to be a great father.

Just like they say in the movie, "I don’t want to be a good enough father. I want to be a great father." Just like my mother was a great mother.

What is the difference between a good enough father and a great father?

Jim Valvano, former North Carolina State head basketball coach and founder of the Jimmy V foundation said: "My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me. "

A great father cares and you know it. He puts fatherhood at the top of his list. He talks with his children and tells them he loves them everyday. He takes an interest in their lives and in his grandchildren. He treats his children’s spouses like children of his own. He doesn’t shake hands when he sees them, he hugs them and holds them tight.

A great father is a great husband, teacher, coach, doctor, therapist, motivator; he walks the walk, he is a man of integrity and is an amazing example of hard work and persistence.

We have a few short years to influence our children. Whatever patterns we set for them will likely be used for their kids and generations after that. We have the responsibilities to mold a life and I don’t believe that should be done casually. Half the fathers in this country are failing and I don’t want to be one of them.

This goes way beyond spending time with your kids, that should be a given. I am talking about setting the standards that they need to aim for in life.

In the book of Proverbs in the Bible it states: "Train up a child in the way which he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it."

Don’t let your career, friends, or selfish desires get in the way of you being a great father. Our Heavenly Father loves us for what we are capable of becoming. We can all be great. My mother taught me that and I will teach my children that wonderful lesson.

Some children don’t have a father or mother here on earth. Because of different circumstances they are born into orphanages or end up in foster care or single parent homes. Definitely not fair.

In Russia, I’ve seen this and it is all over the United States. Unfortunately, it’s all around the world.

You can change the cycle. You can start a new chapter and be the parent you always wish you had.

A good starting point might be to start an affirmation program. Affirm to my kids that they are great, they are loved, they can do anything. The opposite would be to be over critical with negativity. One the the greatest things young people need today is good self esteem and a feeling of good worth, a vision that takes them from Point A to Point B and unlocks their dreams.

A great father makes all the difference in a child's life. He's a pillar of strength, support and discipline. His work is endless and, oftentimes, thankless. But in the end, it shows in the sound, well-adjusted children he raises.

Be there for them.

Anyone can be a good enough father but it takes a real man to be a great father.

Travis Hansen is a former BYU, NBA (Atlanta Hawks) and Euroleague basketball player. He co-founded the Little Heroes Foundation and is married with three children.

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