Today is the day we give back to our fathers for the gifts they give us every day.

And our dads give us a lot. Faith. Encouragement. Love. Priorities. Protection.

We asked dads from around south Louisiana to distill for us the essence of fatherhood. Here’s what they wrote:

Brad Bourgeois, 32, Baton Rouge

Being a dad means seeing with eyes of great faith, hope and love in a long-term investment. The world we live in extols instant gratification — taking all we can get, whenever we want it, and the endless pursuit of material success.

Being a dad is sort of the opposite: it means great patience and sacrifice — of time and material “things.”

It means faith in an unseen future, having to watch someone fall (a lot!) and to encourage them to get back up again and again. It is the thrill of helping children discover and develop their God-given talents and strengths, and understanding and managing human weaknesses. It demands the humility of admitting mistakes, apologizing and asking forgiveness of those you’ve hurt — including especially your children (who are watching your every move and the way you interact with the world). It is the joy of being taught great lessons by people a fraction of your age and half your size. It also brings the treasure of tons of laughter, one of God’s greatest gifts.

We hear all the time that you can’t take it with you. But as a dad, you can leave something great behind. Being a Dad means having the courage and patience to cultivate human capital investments. When formed and encouraged in love and virtue, these investments (remember, long-term) yield incalculable dividends, and can change the world.

I’m blessed beyond measure to raise all five of these young ones — filled with wonder, enthusiasm and energy — to encounter and shape the world around them!

Dr. Calvin Mackie, 46, Gretna

I believe three things make a good father: God, love and time.

A good father should model a relationship with God for his family and children. The greatest thing a father can do for his children is love their mother, and a father’s presence is his greatest present to his children and family. While present, he should seek to expose them to the world, engage daily with them and expect greatness from himself, his children and his family. And these actions should be intentional and consistent!

Jeff Seighman, 42, Walker

I am the father of three kids, so I asked them what it means to be a good dad. Well, “out of the mouth of babes”…

My 7-year-old said a good dad “believes in Jesus and loves no matter what.”

My 10-year-old said a good dad is “loving, caring, Godly, thinks about others’ feelings, doesn’t give up easily, gives good influence, and has PATIENTS!”

No, I’m not a doctor.

My 13-year-old had quite a list for a good dad: “caring for everyone you come in contact with, cooperating with everything that happens, being a handyman, having a good attitude even on bad days, shine the light of Jesus each and every day, showing authority over the house, being able to be the “mom” of the house when she is away (I love that one!), loving and hugging on the wife/kids in good/bad times, having patience when everything is chaotic, and having fun when it is appropriate (of course!)

To me, being a good dad is about keeping the proper perspective: my faith is priority — God comes first and this guides my schedule making; then keep life simple. It is not all about getting “things” or more of something, and finally love and serve my family.

Norman Deumite, 79, Baton Rouge

Being a good father means different things to different people. It means being a good provider; providing a happy place for your children to learn and grow. You have to spend time with them. Teach them the things that are important … how to worship God, work, treat other people. And, you have to be a good listener. Little kids always have stories to tell. It’s important that you listen to them.

You love them unconditionally, but if they don’t do right there’s a price to pay. They need to learn that an early age, not later when you really can’t do anything about it.

Then when they’re grown you become this big Teddy bear, and you’ll do everything possible to make them secure and happy. … You want to hold them a little closer; put a bubble around them.

Victor Howell, 45, Baton Rouge

No matter how many kids you have, you always want to try and give them their own time. You hope you lead by good example…

When you come home from work and you have three little hands waving at you it makes it all worth while … It helps you forget there’s no sleep … sleep’s so overrated.

Allen A. Heard, 48, Metairie

What makes a good dad? Being actively involved in your children’s lives. It is important to be there day in and day out, giving guidance in this ever changing world.

It’s important to put family first.

David McElveen, 42, and David Favret, 45, New Orleans

A good dad is able to impart enough of our essence without changing any of his.

We remind ourselves that he is not us, that he is his own person.

Our job is to teach him what we know but let him learn from his own experience.