Father\u2019s Day is just around the corner, and I\u2019d like to use this special occasion to tell you what a great job I did raising four daughters. I could be a power of example for young fathers everywhere. But first let me make sure my wife and kids aren\u2019t looking over my shoulder, or I may have to \u201cwalk back\u201d my comments in the tradition of Joe Biden. I still recall that fateful morning I was driving to the train station with my oldest daughter as she was telling me horror stories about her best friend\u2019s father and the terrible things he did. It wasn\u2019t the best way to start the day, even though I did take perverse delight in hearing about another guy\u2019s mess-ups (They say we\u2019re supposed to learn from mistakes, but it\u2019s always better if they\u2019re someone else\u2019s mistakes.) Anyway, I decided to take advantage of this opportunity to get some much-deserved praise for myself and my fatherly skills. When my daughter finished her excessively long narrative, I chimed in and did what lawyers call \u201cleading the witness.\u201d \u201cGeez, it\u2019s terrible what that guy did,\u201d I said. \u201cI\u2019m certainly not like that ... What kind of father am I?\u201d Her response was immediate: \u201cOK ... I guess.\u201d What a magnificent performance evaluation: Not just \u201cOK,\u201d but an equivocal \u201cOK, I guess.\u201d Take that to the bank. To quote my mother\u2019s favorite phrase, \u201cAfter all I did for you, this is my reward?\u201d I thought I deserved to be nominated for the Father Knows Best Hall of Fame, but instead I got the Homer Simpson booby prize. Nevertheless, this painful experience taught me a basic principle of fatherhood that I want to share with wannabe fathers and fathers-in-training everywhere: NEVER ask your kids how well you\u2019re doing because you won\u2019t be pleased with the answer. To quote Bill Clinton, an exemplar of fatherhood for the ages: \u201cDon\u2019t ask ... don\u2019t tell.\u201d Asking your kids to critique you opens a Pandora\u2019s box of criticism that you\u2019ll remember the rest of your mortal existence. You\u2019ll still be dredging up those memories when you\u2019re celebrating your 100th birthday at a nursing home in Okahumpka, Fla., where they send unappreciated fathers. Even if the Congress sets aside a day to honor you for your great achievements as a father, and even if Pope Francis writes a papal pronouncement praising you for the great job you did, the only thing you\u2019ll remember is the time your daughter said you ruined her life because you refused to buy her a third nose ring, or the time your son said he was emotionally damaged because you wouldn\u2019t let him fly to Miami Beach for spring break when he was in middle school. You\u2019ll never be perfect so my advice is strive to be average. If you\u2019re not the best, at least it will be comforting to think you\u2019re better than the rest. Fatherhood is surely a thankless vocation. I\u2019m convinced that when Hunter Biden runs for president on a campaign to save democracy, he\u2019ll blame his father for that notorious laptop. And when Donald Trump Jr. runs against Chelsea Clinton, he\u2019ll try to distance himself from The Donald for the sake of his campaign and insist he was actually raised by wolves. When it comes to fathers, you can\u2019t live with them and you can\u2019t live without them. Well, actually you can live without them, and too many families do. A lot of fathers notoriously neglect their responsibilities. I\u2019ve heard quite a few stories from young people who say their fathers are deadbeats who don\u2019t pay child support or abandoned them or neglect them or berate them. There\u2019s a long list. God bless their mothers because they\u2019re doing a tremendous job, by themselves. In recognition of this great American holiday, let me end on a positive note. Once a bad dad doesn\u2019t mean always a bad dad. There\u2019s hope for redemption. I grew up in an alcoholic home. There was physical and emotional abuse. There were fights. There was criticism. But what I remember most is how my father changed once he stopped drinking, with the help of guys in Alcoholics Anonymous. He lived the last 25 years of his life sober. He laughed, he joked, he loved his grandchildren. He may not have been a great father, but he was a great grandfather. It took me a long time to realize that he did the best job he could with the tools he had been given. His father died at 42 from alcoholism, and his mother raised nine kids by herself during the Great Depression. Everyone carries some baggage. So go easy on your father this Father\u2019s Day. Forgive his mistakes because you\u2019ll make them too. And you\u2019ll never understand how difficult fatherhood is until you get your learner\u2019s permit. Former Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time Editor Joe Pisani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.