Picking up the Pennies
By: Archie Wortham

ďIt is my desire to get you off my payroll,Ē Iíve told my older son over and over.

People find it funny I often say that I consider myself a good father because both my sons are still alive. The real reason for my interest as I told a group of young people in a speech this week is I feel the sooner heís off my payroll, the sooner dad knows he can take care of himself.

Thatís what dads want. We want to know weíve done a good job. We want to know that when we leave, we leave a legacy that represents. We want to know weíve passed the best of what we had to our children. As dads who care, we care that our children understand a basic tenant of lifeójust because I love you, doesnít mean I have to like you.

Thatís a hard axiom to contend with; however, many parents feel if our kids donít like us, we are failures. Failure is not an option in parenting. As long as dads are still alive, God is not finished with us, and the parenting isnít over. Like Floyd Patterson, who was knocked down seven times in a heavyweight title match, we can choose to get up. The fact Patterson lost the match isnít what people remember. What people remember about that match is Patterson got up and continued to fight.

Carl Bard tells us, ďThough no one can go back and make a brand new startÖanyone can start from now and make a brand new end.Ē People often forget that. As men, we think because our wife left us; our kids wonít return our calls; or we got laid off, that life is over. Itís never over until itís over. As much as I would like to continue to go back to redo or rework the magic I did in raising our sons, I know I canít, but the deal is not done. It continues as I take the skill-set Iíve learned from others and attempt to give our sons a better set now as we discuss how they can move onóbecome better at what they aspire to be. Teaching them to focus on whatís important as they see what we focus on is a starting place.

While helping my wife clean the other day, I found pennies, nickels and dimes in our younger sonís room. Heís moved on to college, but I picked up every one of them. When weíre out walking, sometimes my sons saw me stop to bend over and pick up a penny. They never asked why, but often they have walked over the same penny. To answer my question why didnít they pick it up, their reply was itís not worth it. Not worth it?

Think about that as you think about the cost of a car; a mortgage payment; a Big Mac or IPhone. To get someone off my payroll, they have to understand pennies make dollars, and to purchase all the items listed here, it take a lot of those pennies, nickels and dimes many of our young people donít want to bend over and pick up.

With parents who give them everything, why should they? Thatís why itís important for them to understand that sometimes they may not like us for what we choose to do, but itís important they understand the depth of our love when we say no. They have to learn, and itís their choice which way they want to learn. They can listen to us or do their own thing.

Benjamin Franklin once said, ďA penny saved is a penny earned.Ē Growing up, we were taught to save for a rainy day, but America has one of the worst records for saving in the world. I donít want my sons to have to take care of me when I get older, so I pick up pennies and tell them they should too. I love them, but I donít want them moving home because they canít pay for the car they bought; their mortgage payment is due; theyíre hungry and donít want MacDonaldís or they just broke the window on their IPhone. Not my problem.

One of my mentors, Jack Houston, told me years ago, ďyou watch the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.Ē It will keep me off my sonís payroll later. It will help him get off mine. And more importantly, it will lead our country into a fiscal responsibility where we are truly able to see our children as adult because we taught them the value of a dollar because we are dads who care.