Monthly Archives: May 2014

Give Dads a Break

In the news right now there is lots being said about kids who have done terrible things. The recent shootings in Santa Barbara by Elliot Rodger are just one example. On the CNN website his parents are described as “living in hell” since the event.

There are other examples also. Edward Snowden’s father is at a loss to describe the motives of his son. And whether we think Snowden a hero or villain we can only imagine his father’s confusion and anxiety over what comes next.

We so often say that “the apple does not fall far from the tree” and to some degree that is true. Kids usually turn out like their parents. But it is not uncommon that dangerous kids come from good parents. Kids sometimes do things that a parent cannot imagine where the idea came from.

So when a kid does something criminal should we blame the parent? And the answer is no, at least not all the time. Sure if parents neglect, abuse or give only bad example to their kids, the kids have a good chance of having real problems in the future. They can become bad parents themselves, who have difficulty with relationships.

But often parents do everything right. They are loving, supportive, understanding, and yet their child just becomes someone they don’t really understand or know. This can be the result of mental illness or some other maladjustment in the child that leads to this behavior.

I know of one family with two boys, and one has followed the usual path to success with school, friends and family. The other was a thief at an early age, and despite love and support of his family he has ended up in prison. Another family I know has three children and two have turned out like their parents, responsible, productive and supportive of others. The third is without direction, cannot get any traction to start his life and is now an adult completely unlike the rest of his family. I am sure each of you could add to this list.

The point is we need to show love and support for all dads and moms. When we hear of a tragedy or of someone going astray we should not blame the parents. And as difficult as it is if we are the parents of the kid who goes astray, we must not blame ourselves. Of course we should always examine our behavior, and if we have not fulfilled our obligation as a parent then take responsibility and make amends.

Being a dad is not easy duty. It is important to be the best dad you can be, however things can happen that were beyond your control. We must have respect for ourselves and our vocation as a dad and show that same respect for other dads as well.

Guest Post – “He let me be me.”

Until I was a sophomore in high school, my Dad tried every way imaginable short of physical compulsion to get me interested in sports. I just wasn’t. Don’t ask me why. It was not a conscious choice. It was just the way I was wired. At the beginning of sophomore year, Dad asked if I was going to try out for JV football. I summoned my courage and said, “No, I’m going to try out for the school play.” Dad was visibly disappointed, but he didn’t pursue it. When I got a good part in the play, he was curious. He came to every performance and was proud as could be! That was the best gift Dad ever gave me. He let me be me.

-Dan Conway

Chris And Jake’s Dad

Kids don’t choose their dads, that’s why dads must be the best they can be to their kids. Please read on and see where I am going with this.
First I am going to tell a true story. I know a guy, I’ll call Chris, who was the firstborn of a couple who discovered that they could not birth another baby but wanted more children. They especially thought it would be great that Chris would have a sibling. So they adopted their second child. And this child happened to be another boy, I’ll call Jake.
As the boys grew Chris was very interested in drama, art and dance. Jake liked baseball, track and all sorts of outdoor activities. The boys’ dad liked outdoor activities too and really could not quite figure out where his first son got his interest in drama, art and dance.
Only a few years apart in school, Chris helped his brother with his school work and cheered him on in sports. However Jake did not show much interest in his brother’s activities and neither did their father. Their father never encouraged Chris and seldom went to any of his performances at school. Needless to say he did not show Jake how to show interest in or respect for his brother.
As the years have passed, their father never did take time to understand or appreciate Chris. Throughout his life he showered Jake with praise and adulation. Chris did well in school and went into publishing. His brother married and has a career is sales.
Chris never had much of a relationship with his father so that when he died there was little grief. All that could have been so different. Had the dad taken the time to recognize the gifts of Chris, he would have spared that boy a lifetime of anxiety and self-deprecation. The dad would have shown Jake the richness of the life of his brother, even though they liked different things.
Everybody lost here. Both boys lost because they were not equally loved and supported. The dad lost because he failed to appreciate and love Chris for who he is. And their mother lost by having to deal with a dysfunctional family over which she had little control. It was not a happy family.
The moral of the story is: be a dad to the kid you’ve got. Each person is different and worthy of love and respect. Our kids are not accessories. We should discover them as they discover themselves. Remember your kids did not choose you, so don’t give them reason to wish they could have.

Happy Mother’s Day, Dad

Just a short post today as we celebrate Mother’s Day.
First of all we all need to show our own mothers special love and respect on this day. Our kids are always watching us so they will notice how you talk about and treat your mother or the memory of her if she is gone.
Next it is important to make sure your kids do something special for their mothers on this day, no matter how old they are. If it is late in the day and your college kid has not called or something, get on the phone or text them and remind them to call Mom.
I fully realize that some families have all sorts of problems surrounding parenting. If the mother is missing from the family this is no time to badmouth her. Speak of her with compassion and understanding. She may be troubled or have other problems that don’t allow her to function well but she is still your kid’s mom and worthy of respect. Kids need to be reminded that they are not the cause of their mother’s problems.
Mother’s Day is a day for joy and love. Try to find a way to help your kids celebrate their mothers. And if nothing else tell your kids about your mother, step-mother, grand-mother. They will love hearing about her or them, and you will be revealing something about yourself.
Have a happy Mother’s Day, Dad.