Ten Characteristics of a Franco-American Father

By Juliana L’Heureux

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It’s time to praise the top ten attributes of a Franco-American father. Although all fathers deserve compliments on their special day, Franco-American fathers have some distinctive characteristics worth noting.

First on the top ten list is family loyalty. Franco-American fathers have a sixth sense about their family’s history and genealogy. The family name and ancestral relationships are extremely important. A common question asked by Franco-American fathers, especially when meeting his daughter’s new boyfriend, is, "So, what family are you related to?" Family name and reputation is important to the Franco-American father.

Patriotism is a second trait. Franco-Americans are listed among those who gave their lives in foreign wars defending our country. Even the American Revolutionary War and the American Civil War included French-Canadians and French nationalist fighters.

Charming wit is a third characteristic. This disarming characteristic is effective when it is also flirtatious. Franco-American fathers usually had very interesting lives as single men because their amazing wit attracts almost any available young lady who is the recipient of their charm. My father in law, for example, won the heart of his future wife and my mother in law while cutting her hair in a Biddeford barber shop while she was preparing to marry another man. Obviously, my father in law charmed her enough to cancel her forthcoming wedding. She married him instead.

Fourth, Franco-American fathers care about personal appearances and take care to dress properly. Once, our family played a horrible joke on an uncle by drawing a hole on the bottom of his shoe, which then appeared in a photograph. Our uncle was very angry about having his personal attire insulted.

A fifth characteristic is a passion for sports, especially baseball. Perhaps baseball became an ethnic tradition because a Franco-American named Napoleon Lajoie was the first 20th century superstar of the game, also known as the "Woonsocket Wonder". After baseball, the Franco-American fathers have a passion for playing card games, especially Wisk or Cribbage.

Sixth is an artistic gift, especially for woodworking, carpentry and woodcarving. Many Franco-American fathers are talented musicians and storytellers. A love of arts and music leads into the seventh characteristic, the Franco-American father enjoys a good Saturday night soiree, especially if the occasion coincides with a joyful family reunion. 

Expert gardening is the eighth characteristic. Franco-American fathers lead the family’s vegetable planting ritual taking charge of planting tomatoes, corn, beets, green peppers and green beans every spring in the family’s small fenced backyard garden. 

Ninth characteristic is a gift for managing money and saving it. Franco-American credit unions were the first ones ever established in American and for good reason. Saving money for a rainy day is a tradition in the Franco-American family. 

Last but not least is faithfulness. Franco-American fathers are devoted to their wives, children and grandchildren. In fact, fathers are superb family providers. Many fathers also nurse their spouse during serious illnesses.

There are other attributes, like being expert hunters and fishermen. Most of all, Franco-American fathers are "tres bon hommes" (very good men). 

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Published on June 15, 2000
Copyright 1999-2000, Portland Press Herald, Portland, Maine and Juliana L'Heureux