Dad as Coach, Counselor & Constant Companion

Hello Dear Readers and Happy (Almost) Father’s Day,

Last month, we explored advice from my mom and your own mothers in the realm of love and life, in honor of Mother’s Day. Today, with Father’s Day approaching this coming Sunday, it’s time to focus on dad.

My father was the serious yang to my mother’s free-spirited yin, making for an interestingly balanced upbringing. He raised me like the boy I was supposed to be, with five o’clock a.m. weightlifting sessions and nightly baseball and tackle football games in the vacant field next door to my childhood home. Antonio Cruz Muñoz is a man of few words and my namesake.

But he wasn’t always Coach Muñoz to me. He had a softer and gentler side, like when he lovingly placed a mixing bowl over my head to trim my unruly hair when I was in elementary school. Those grooming sessions happened about once a month, until the bowl only reached my ears. When that day came, so did my ten o’clock p.m. curfew. I could always depend on him standing at the front door as I walked in, upon which time he’d administer his version of the Breathalyzer test.


Life’s bigger concerns often involved Tony’s clipboard and a language filled with X’s and O’s. He taught me how to play good defense, learned from his own days on the football field. “Defense wins games,” he’d say. And that’s how I approached life; staying on my toes and watching all of the tricks the offense would throw at me.

On rare occasions, a player (or two or three) would penetrate this ironclad defense, but Dad was always there to read their plays. Among his words of wisdom: Be careful for a man whose father is a womanizer. Don’t just hear what he says; watch what he does. He’ll find the time if he wants to be with you.

Years later, I was surprised when Dad sat me down after my sister passed, and told me to let my then-new boyfriend attend her funeral. I didn’t want this man to meet my family during such a difficult time; I wasn’t ready to let him see us at our worst.  Dad advised, “Marriage isn’t always about the good times. You need to know that your partner supports you during the worst times, too. And when you’re always the strong, independent woman who has everything under control, you don’t allow anyone to support you. Let him be here for you.”


I took Dad’s advice, and two years later I married that man. He’s pictured above, in green, with my Dad at his side, making tamales at the family table.

Dad, thank you for being the man who set the bar! And, thank you to all of our Facebook friends for sharing some of their own fathers’ relationship advice. Here are a few of our favorites:

Escoba nueva barre bien (A new broom always sweeps well). In the beginning of a relationship, you are dating the representative of that person. After the infatuation phase, you’ll start to see the person for who they really are. That’s when you’ll know if you really love them, or if you were in love with the idea of them.” — Gloria Elisa Azurdia

“If it weren’t for the bad times, the good times wouldn’t seem so good.” — Erica Tracy-Schavey

“One day, I was crying, and my Dad came in and looked at me.  He said, ‘Whoever he is, he isn’t worth it.’” — Kamita Benjamin

“Trouble is easy to get into, but it is even harder to get out of.”— Ryan Gipson

“Life is a wonderful journey; choose your travel partner carefully.” — Veda Marie

With all of that wonderful advice, I’d love to hear from any of you with your own fathers’ wise words. Please take a moment to comment below. Thank you all for sharing, and don’t forget to give Dad a big bear hug this Sunday.

Until Next Time,


Written for DFW Style Daily

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