This Sunday is Father’s Day. While you may have a father to celebrate with perhaps some one you know does not. The first year after losing a loved one can be particularly difficult when holidays like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day or a birthday role around. This week’s mitzvah idea: if you know someone who has lost their father this year or even last year, give them a call or send them a note this week or maybe see if they want to do something with you on Sunday. At the very least, acknowledge the loss in some way.
Last month, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Bob Hazelton at our District 7 Toastmasters Conference. Bob is the author of Dads Matter. Bob says, “ it seems obvious that dads are important but notice how dads are portrayed in TV shows, movies and especially TV commercials. They are cast as nearly incompetent bumbling fools.” Bob and I had a chance to discuss his book and in honor of Father’s Day, I want to share some important lessons gleaned from Dads Matter.
What inspired you to write this book?
When my son Jesse was fifteen, my wife and I made the gut wrenching decision to send him to a program for troubled teens in Mexico. Later, I became involved with the program as a personal growth seminar facilitator. I witnessed kids in their most vulnerable state, sobbing about how their dad’s hadn’t been present in their lives. I was surprised at my own reaction. I became very emotional. These interactions effected me profusely. As a facilitator, I witnessed how deeply a dads involvement impacted their teens both for the good and bad.
What do you see as the role of a dad in the family?
I believe a parent’s job is to provide structure through rules, boundaries and limitations. Parents have around eighteen years to take a completely helpless, dependent infant and transform them into an independent, respectful, responsible, contributing member of society. Dads offer a different perspective than moms. For example, dads can teach both daughters and sons about respect. Dads can teach their sons how to treat girls respectfully as well as teaching their daughters to demand respect.
What did you learn about yourself in writing Dads Matter?
I heard so many stories from children and adults that they wish they had had a dad in their lives. I learned lessons from other dads who wished they had been more involved in their kids’ lives or shown affection to their kids. This has made me much more aware of how a father’s affection effects children. Well into my adult life I avoided hugging my parents. Now I showed my affection to my sons and I hug both my sons and my dad.
I learned that even raising two sons in the same house with the same parenting from my wife and myself they ended up taking different paths. Also, that sometimes the lessons we teach our children take a long while to show up. With my youngest son, it seems like some of those lessons took more than ten years to really get through. My sons also taught me many lessons.
What are the some lessons you teach in Dad Matters?
* First and foremost to actually be in the lives or their children; physically and emotionally,
* The small moments between dad and child are the most important,
* It is the dads job not only to teach their children, but also to learn from them,
* To demonstrate and practice forgiveness, and finally,
* To teach values.
What I believe is unique about Dads Matter is that I follow-up these lesson with personal stories; some are mine but many are from other people.
A big thank you to Bob for talking with me about Dads Matter. Perhaps there is a father that might like this book as a reminder of how valuable they truly are in their children’s lives.