The founder of the second largest fast-food chicken restaurant in the United States says children need parents instead of buddies.

In his book It's Better to Build Boys Than to Mend Men (Looking Glass Books, 2004), Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy lays out a simple model to build children into responsible adults. He says when he was 13 years old, an older Christian man stepped into his life and showed him the blueprint, meanwhile demonstrating to the youngster the building blocks of love, respect, hard work, and discipline.

Cathy feels that model is often missing in contemporary family life. He believes many fathers need to realize that children see both the good and bad attitudes and actions of their parents. "Don't be so concerned about your children not listening to you or your teenager not listening to you," he advises, "but be very, very concerned by what they see you do, because those little eyes look at you."

The restaurant chain founder says a father needs to be aware that, even if they do not mention what they see, a child is taking note of everything he or she sees a parent do, and every action has the potential to influence the child's behavior as much as any word. "Children observe the good things you're doing," Cathy says, but he says dads should also consider whether their kids are seeing "the beer in the refrigerator, and maybe the bad language that they have, or the bad attitudes that they have."

The chicken magnate turned author, who has himself taught Sunday School to middle school students for more than 50 years, is encouraging fathers to give their children positive guidance by spending quality time with them. He says too many dads have abandoned their responsibilities to their children, either by leaving their families or by choosing to be a pal instead of a parent to their children.

In Cathy's company, employees are off on Sundays as a matter of policy and principle. In his book, the author points out that it is vital for dads to give their full attention to their children. "Fathers need to understand that quality time is not on the golf course or watching TV all day Sunday afternoon." he says. "Quality time with your children is where you have quiet time on a one-to-one basis with your children, and you give them an opportunity to talk when they want to talk."

S. Truett Cathy, founder and CEO of Chick-fil-A restaurants, is also founder of WinShape Homes, which provides stable, loving two-parent homes for more than 130 foster children. He and his wife, Jeannette, live in the Atlanta area.


WinShape Foundation (http://www.winshape.com)
WinShape Homes (http://www.winshape.com/homes/)

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