Growing up I had many great male role models. I’ve talked in the past about my dad’s influence
on my parenting skills. I haven’t touched on my two grandfathers; they both were extremely
influential in my life, and showed me what it means to love unconditionally and take care of
your family. There was another great male role model in my life though. He was a guy that was
there for me every day, if I wanted him, and he taught me many life lessons. The man was Andy
Taylor; the character portrayed by Andy Griffith on screen for years and will live on forever
When I learned about Griffith’s passing this week I felt almost like I lost a family member. I
know this may sound silly, but to many of you I’ll bet you can relate. He was as much a part
of our family as anybody because I grew up watching is show. It seems like we were always
watching some crazy antic that the Sheriff and his zany deputy had going on.
Some of you may say, “What does this have to do with Autism?” Well, this is called Pervasive
Parenting and I would dare say that Taylor and his small-town values taught me many life
lessons that I try to incorporate in my parenting skills. Let me give you an example of just a few.
One lesson I learned is that, whenever your children mess up, make it a teaching moment. I try to
do this, although at times I am so frustrated that I forget this. I usually end up back-tracking and
try to set down with my boys and explain why I was so upset with their choices. I try to let them
know the bad choice that they made and what they should have done. We also try to talk about
what they should do now to make it right; much the same way Sheriff Taylor did with Opie.
Another lesson is that honesty is the best policy. This is one that even Andy had trouble with. He
tended to tell white lies, but in the end he was teaching that the right thing to do is tell the truth.
This is something that I have talked to my boys about. I think if you let them know that it is okay
to tell the truth no matter what they did at a young age then it will help when they are older. It’s
not a perfect science, but it is the right thing no matter how you look at it.
A very important thing to learn is that you have to laugh at your mistakes. Nobody’s perfect.
To quote an old cliché, children don’t come with a manual. If they did most dads would throw
it in a junk drawer anyway so it wouldn’t matter. You are going to mess up with your children.
You are going to say and do things that you regret. You are going to look like a fool sometimes.
You need to just laugh about the dumb thing you did, fix the mistake, and move on. I remember
one episode when Andy got so upset with Opie because he wanted to spend his money on his
girlfriend instead of give it to charity. In the end the girl really needed to money so it worked out.
Andy had to laugh about the fact that he didn’t trust his son to do the right thing, but because of
the way he had raised him he made the right decision on his own.
One lesson I don’t know anything about, but feel like many could learn is that it’s hard to be
single parent. Now he had Aunt Bea, but he still struggled with this. If a man working hard to
keep a small town safe and clean up after his bumbling friend/deputy can do it…well, again I
don’t know much about this one. This is where I say thank you to my wife: Thanks Jen.
I think one of the biggest lessons learned from every episode is tolerance. Andy had a whole
slew of crazy characters that made his life interesting. This is not unlike our lives. We all have
family and friends that add drama and fun to our lives. Our children with special needs add
enough drama and fun. We have to be tolerant of the things God has given us and learn our own
life lessons. Just like any episode of the Andy Griffith Show things will work out in the end.
I’m in no way Andy Taylor. I don’t have the patience, tolerance, and smooth delivery to save the
ship when it’s going down every week. However, things could always be worse. I think if we all
had more role models like Andy Taylor the world would be better. Rest in peace Mr. Griffith,
and thank you!
P.S. the title of the article is the actual title to the show’s theme song (The Fishing Hole).