Tired Of Ties? Try This Advice Instead

Fathers across the country will receive their fair share of ties, socks, wallets and mugs this Sunday. But Tell Me More wants to salute fathers with an unconventional gift: wisdom. In the series "Father to Father," dads offer their words of wisdom and advice to other dads. Today's essay comes from Eric Stuart of Van Nuys, California.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. We all know what's happening in the stores this week. The tie racks are emptying out. The golf accessories are low. There aren't too many brown wallets left on the shelves and no black socks. That's right. Sunday's Father's Day, so here at TELL ME MORE, we decided to salute fathers with essays from other fathers. It's our Father to Father series and today's essay comes from a dad living in Van Nuys, California.

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ERIC MORGAN STUART: My name is Eric Morgan Stuart. I have two beautiful children, an 11-year-old son and a seven-year-old daughter. I have been teaching for over 20 years. I love what I do, but there was a time when I wasn't sure if I was any good at it.

Before I had children, even with two degrees and eight years of study in the arts, I questioned myself. What can I offer that every other acting teacher on the planet isn't doing already?

One day, the mother of one of my students answered that very question for me without even knowing it. While introducing me to one of her friends, she said, we've worked with other acting coaches before. The reason I like Eric is because he treats my daughter like she's his.

I had never thought about it before, but the only way I know how to treat all of my students is to treat them like they are my own children. And when I really thought about their backgrounds, I realized many of my students were from single family homes. I wasn't just a teacher to these kids. I was a positive male influence they were missing in their lives.

It goes without saying that we, as fathers, have a responsibility to our wives and our children and, for those of us fortunate enough to have a stable marriage of 15 years or more like my wife and I with children who appreciate the fact that they have two parents at home, we need to understand this. We are being watched by everyone: potential fathers, single mothers, couples just starting their journey, but most of all, children.

No. We can't possibly take the place of their real fathers, but it is possible to lighten the load for just a brief moment in time. And - no - there's no pay for such a job, unless you count the smile that curls a child's lips, that beautiful sound they make when they laugh, the possibility of being someone they will remember long enough to tell their own children about.

See, I think we lost something vital to the fabric of our society over the years, something you might still be able to find in remote small towns across the country, a very simple idea, really. It takes a village to raise a child.

My wife and I have always believed this because we are both living proof of it in many ways. This is a saying that mothers have always understood. It's time we, as fathers, take this mantra on, as well. I mean, if every father in the world took just 10 minutes out of every day to be a father to someone, can you even imagine the possibilities?

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MARTIN: That was Eric Stuart of Van Nuys, California. He's an acting coach and dad to 11-year-old Atreyu(ph) and seven-year-old Cheyenne(ph).

Tune in tomorrow, when we hear more words of fatherly wisdom.

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