“Hear, O children, a father’s instruction; be attentive, that you may gain understanding!” — Proverbs 4:1
My cousin wrote a book: A Common Purpose — Using Your Homegrown Values to Improve Your Life and Your Business, by Daniel LaPerriere. In it, he beautifully details how his experience of being one of ten children contributed greatly to his career, and more importantly, to his success as a husband and father. At the moment of his birth, Dan became part of a growing team with a common purpose: A loving and happy family.
When I was growing up, my siblings and I would sometimes observe how other families seemed to be having more fun than we were having. My mother would tell us, “You never know what is going on behind closed doors.” However, when it came to our aunt and uncle’s family, we knew their fun was genuine.
This past Father’s Day, every morning news program found it necessary to feature parenting experts who could articulate the characteristics of a successful father. It so happened I was helping an ailing relative that weekend, allowing me more time than usual to check out the Sunday morning shows. I noticed one recurring piece of advice from each of the experts. To be a successful father, you must first be a successful husband.
My uncle knew instinctively what many others can only hope to glean from a self-help book. Conrad deeply loved and valued his wife. His purpose was to make her happy. There is no doubt he had this goal from the day he married Therese in 1947 until the day he left this earth, and her loving arms, 62 years later. My uncle drew on his childhood experiences, his Marine Corps training, and the lessons he learned while living on his own since the age of fifteen. He wrapped it all in prayer and proceeded to implement his plan for a happy wife and a happy life. It was a big goal, but fortunately, God provided Conrad with many helpers.
I have often said how every problem in our society has its origins in the break down of the family unit. I am greatly saddened by statistics which show increases in the numbers of children born with neglectful parents. Most crimes are committed by fatherless youths. The lack of standards, values, and purpose of a secure family significantly increases the chances children will abuse drugs and commit crimes, as well as become single or absent parents themselves. We have become a society that makes excuses for irresponsible parents, sometimes blaming the problems on poor education or lack of wealth. My cousin’s book clearly disputes such rationalization. With his incredible wisdom, my uncle should have been a guest on those news programs many times.
I didn’t see my cousins very often as they lived in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and I lived four hours from there in Schenectady, New York. The few times I was with them, though, were quite memorable. My recollections aren’t really about anything in particular that we did, like playing pool in their basement or going out for a local specialty – linguica pizza. What I remember most were the feelings I had when I was there, and frankly, feelings that still linger when I think of those days today.
Respect, loyalty and joy permeated the LaPerriere home. There wasn’t anything phony about it. That’s just the way it was. Measly (and sometimes annoying) little me was treated like an honored guest because that was the standard set by my aunt and uncle. If my handsome cousins were somehow forced to be nice to me, there was never the slightest hint of such coercion. They were kind and fun, and I soaked up every second of it.
When I grew to be an adult, Aunt Therese and Uncle Conrad became wonderful friends. I miss my uncle’s insight and his sense of humor. I always tried to tease him, but he usually had a better comeback. That was another of his specialties! My aunt is an especially caring and supportive friend. With all of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I truthfully do not know how she has time for me, but she always does. I am amazed at her memory of all the goings on in her family, while incredibly, she remembers the important things about my husband and children, too. She’s uniquely special, and I treasure our friendship.
I highly recommend A Common Purpose (www.A-Common-Purpose.com). Regardless of where you are in life or what your current goals are, Dan shares helpful advice about making the most of teamwork. Afterall, as we are all on God’s team working on His purpose, a little more assistance can’t hurt.
On a personal note, thank you, Dan, for writing this book. I delighted in reading the stories
of your youth. I laughed out loud at many of the experiences you recounted. You thoughtfully consolidated your parents’ genius and then applied that wisdom toward helping anyone willing to make the effort for genuine success. Mostly for me, A Common Purpose served to confirm what I knew at an early age — The LaPerriere family had a lot of fun!
*NOTE: This Aunt Therese is not the same one that I wrote about in February. That aunt is my mother’s sister. How lucky to have two Aunt Therese’s!