Tag Archives: Mother

The Power of a Father

I have over six different drafts of this post. I have different introductions, pop culture references, links, and music in the rough drafts. The issue I want to talk about is the power of fatherhood. More specifically the devastating power of not having a father in a child’s life.

I have been working with the idea of doing a series of posts about what it is really like to be a dad, but an episode of Happy Days got me thinking about the effects of not having a father in my life and the effect it has for other kids. I had never seen the episode of Happy Days before. My youngest daughter likes the show Happy Days. We watch the show on MeTV. One Sunday afternoon the episode, “Arthur, Arthur,”  was playing. The episode is part of the last season of the show. By the end, I was in tears.

The story line of Fonzie and his dad is highlighted in season 6 with the episode, “Christmas Time”.

My story is different.  I have shared parts of that in a past post (Life Lessons About Fatherhood). The feelings of abandonment, anger, and questions of why are similar, though.  But in “Arthur, Arthur” there is a moment that rocked my soul. I have tried to find a clip of the episode, but there is not one to be found. In the episode Fonzie finds out his father has died. That changes everything. Fronzie expresses how he always hoped that someday he would be able to see his father. That while his dad was alive there was always a chance to understand why his dad left. A chance to heal the emotional wounds. With his dad passing, that opportunity was gone. Fonzie would never get to know why. The wounds would never fully heal.

The episode ends with Fonzie showing the broken gold watch his father wanted him to have. He wasn’t going to get the watch fixed because it represented his dad the way it was. A broken watch for a broken relationship.

I understand how Fonzie felt… in my own way. But that specific pain of a son (or a daughter) not having a father in their life is almost universal.

This song was released my senior year of high school. By that time, I hadn’t talked to my father for about eight years. But had lived with three step-dads and a few boyfriends that my mother had. The lines “I didn’t write these pages / And my script’s been rearranged.” expresses one of the perspectives children have when a parent leaves them.

Being abandoned by people who are supposed to guide you in this life is devastating. I know I am focusing on fathers, but the same holds true for mothers. 

There are too many kids trying to navigate this life on their own. And they write their stories with a foundation of loss, of uncertainty, and a deep sense of not being enough, not being loved because their parents are not there. 

I am not a perfect father or husband. But I try every day. And maybe that is the hardest part of looking back. I am raising six kids. Even though I make mistakes, I try to make sure they know they are loved. It is not easy, but I am proud of my kids. I am proud of the home I have built.

But everyday I wonder why wasn’t I worth the effort?

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What is it Worth?

Let’s do a thought experiment.

Let’s say I have designed a unique tool you could use every day. For fun, let’s call it a Digital Attention Yielder, or D.A.Y. for short.

Now, what if I told you that it would only cost you a quarter to buy? How valuable do you think it is? How well made?

OK, what if I said it would cost a dollar? Is there much change in your judgment of the D.A.Y.’s value?

Let’s jump the cost to $100. What value does it have now in your mind? Five hundred dollars? A $1000?

The cost of something influences our judgment of its value. 

Hang with me for another thought experiment.

What if I said I would pay you a quarter to spend the day working on your dreams? Would you do it?

What if I told you that I would pay you $100 to be a better friend today? A better husband or mother? Would you do that? Would you read a story to your kids tonight? Text a friend?

How much money would it take for you to live the life you want? 

To be the person you want to be? 

How much is your D.A.Y. worth?

Money is an easy way to measure worth. The hurdle is that LIFE doesn’t pay us with money. Life gives us time. And only so much time. We decide how much our time is worth. Our life is measured by abstract ideas like love, friendship, joy, and hardwork, to name a few. It is difficult to put measurable value on these characteristics. But I believe we know deep in our hearts the answers. We know if we treat our family well. We know if we have worked on our dreams. 

At the end of the D.A.Y. we know if we spent it well.

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The Balance of Fatherhood

Person standing on wood planks above a city

I am going to state up front that this blog post will challenge you. Plus, it will not provide any answers to help you, but I hope to provide an opportunity to spend time reflecting on the importance of your career and of fatherhood. The balance of both of these responsibilities is at the center of our everyday life. This balance deserves an opportunity to be talked about, to spend time thinking about, to find the correct balance. So, I am going to ask you to watch a TedTalk and listen to a podcast as we look at this balance. Ready? Let’s start with the video. This a great TedTalk, but pay close attention to the ending, at about 8:55 to the end.

First, let me agree at the moment with Larry Smith. He is correct that we can hide behind human relationships. We mask our own fear with the idea that we are at least being good people. He is also correct about that mask being false. How can we have great relationships if we are not being our authentic self? And our jobs, our careers, our passions are one of the ways we express ourselves to the word. So, Larry is correct in challenging us about pursuing our passions… but hold on. I’m not done challenging you.

I want you to listen to the podcast, “Family Snapshot” from the memory palace. The podcast is based off of Charlie Duke’s book MoonWalker. (Which is on my reading list.)

Next time you are outside at night, look up at the moon and think about how cool it is that there is a family portrait on the moon. I will admit, as a dad, that idea is cool! But at what cost?

Now, the focus of the rest of the post will center on the balance of fatherhood and careers. I will state my opinion a little later, but want to work through the idea first. So let’s connect a few dots here.

Larry Smith makes a great argument about why we need to pursue our passions. I agree, but I think he simplified the father-son/daughter relationship to a moment of giving advice. Which I agree with, too. Fathers (and mothers) are the first examples for their children about pursuing goals. We also help them deal with failure and a range of things that deal with careers, but a relationship is more complex than that moment, and a father-child relationship may be the most complex relationship in this life.

So, that brings us to Charlie’s story (at least what is shared on the podcast), an absent father that walked on the moon, who in a unique way, will have his family live forever in a picture on the moon.  Imagine when someone finds that photo, thinks about the people in the picture, standing and smiling, a happy family. Another type of mask. Charlie’s relationship with his family was tested, if not actually present.






Fatherhood is a balancing act. Yes, I do believe you can pursue your passion, reach your personal goals. Yes, I believe that nuclear family relationships are the most important relationships we have. What is the balance? How do you find it? I don’t know. If I did, I suppose I would be the famous author I dream about. But I hope that this post got you thinking, reflecting, and moving forward toward your goal, and when you come home your children run up to you with a hug, glad to have you home because it is a beautiful day and they want to play outside.

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section. Share this with anyone who would enjoy it.

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Good morning. Or afternoon. Or evening. I don’t know when you might come across this post, but I wrote it for you.

Let’s cut to the chase, we need you to be great today. No, seriously. We need you to be on your game today. We need you to be a great mother or father, a great friend, a great person, a great writer, a great YOU.  Here’s why.

The world has enough average people. The world has too many below average people. The world has enough hate, disrespect, and coldness. What we need is you to be great.  To be strong. To live your life to the fullest at this moment.

I can hear some of you, life is too hard to be great. Thank you for proving my point. How is being less than your best helping make your life better? It is not. I know that it can be crazy getting the kids ready for the day. But being average, being rattled, being short and snippy at the kids does not make the moment better. Being at your best is not a guarantee that getting the kids ready in the morning will not be work, but it sure makes the moment better.

Life can be hard. I know that.  Which is even more of a reason for you to be great, to live your life to your greatest potential. Your life needs you to rise up to a higher level.

I can hear you, too. I’ve tried being better but it didn’t work. Yoda was right when he said:

Do or not do

The word TRY gives us an excuse not to succeed. To not be our best. It deflects the responsibility of our lives to an abstract idea or worse to another person.  You either live to your potential or you don’t.  Stop trying. We need you to BE GREAT. Your family, your dreams, your life needs your greatness. I know you you know it. Now live it.

Share this with anyone you know who might need a reminder that we need their greatness.

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Happy Birthday

Courtesy of Flickr user Bitterjug

The candles were lit.  My daughter looked around at everyone standing by her.  A smile creeping on her face.

“Everyone ready?” I ask.

The kids all shake their heads yes and we all break out in song, “Happy birthday…”

And my daughter bursts out in joyful laughter.

Yesterday was my third daughter’s birthday.  She turned four.  It was a busy day for our family.  Wednesday is CCD, my wife attended a funeral during the day, my oldest son has a different schedule because of finals, and we went out to eat for my daughter’s birthday.  All day my little girl kept asking if it was, “Happy Birthday Time.”  I thought she meant if she could open presents.  She received one of her presents in the morning and opened her other present after dinner, but she kept asking about the Happy Birthday Time while the older kids were at CCD.  I told her we would have cake when the kids got back and that she had opened all her presents.  But she kept asking.  I didn’t get it until I saw her eyes explode with joy as we sang “Happy Birthday” to her.

It wasn’t the presents, or the cake; it was that moment when she was the center of our attention.  Where we expressed our love for her in a simple song.  She laughed the whole time.  She couldn’t blow out her candles because of her laughter.  This was the third moment in the last couple of weeks that has highlighted the importance of our actions (and words) in building up (or tearing down) another person.

Example number two happened last weekend as I was getting groceries.  I want to preface the example with the knowledge that as a parent I have had bad days and I hope this situation for the mother was just one of those days.

I was shopping for groceries alone as we tried to get the little ones some rest.  As I turned into an aisle I noticed a boy about nine years old sitting at one of the booths the store has for eating from the deli.  Didn’t think too much of it and continued up the aisle.

“Can I shop with you now, mom?”  I knew it was the boy.

“Does it look like I’m at the end of the store?” an annoyed and exasperated voice responded.

“Please, can I shop with you?” His voice pleaded. As a dad the part that makes me feel ashamed when I lose my temper is how much my kids still just want my love and attention.

The mom’s voice softens a little, “OK, but no more issues.”

As life has it, I crossed paths with this mother and son in every aisle for the rest of my time in the store. And yes, they even ended up behind me in the checkout aisle.

ToolsThe mother’s voice might have softened at first, but soon I heard her bark at her son… in every aisle.  The situation brought up a dark time in my life.  In junior high my mother had a live-in boyfriend that would put me down whenever he could.  But the worst was when I would have to help him with projects.  He was an outstanding handyman.  He could fix any problem in the house.  He built some incredible cabinets and other things for my mom.  Even though I was “the worst #### kid ever” I always had to help.  I could not do anything right. It was a very dark two years of my life. Even today, I have a hard time doing handyman things around the house.

Back to the store. I tried to smile and just make a positive interaction with the two.  But, it was the same situation in each aisle.  The mom’s voice covering the child in negativity.  And the boy doing everything he could to make her happy.

The third situation has challenged my own patience, as our littlest one has not gotten a consistent schedule through the night or morning.  It is not fun changing diapers at two in the morning, or knowing that the family will be running late because the little one is up earlier than normal. That means I have to feed her before I can get into my morning routine.

But, no matter the time, my little girl lights up with a smile when I place her on the changing table.  Whether it is two in the morning, or when I try to get a couple of sips of coffee before I feed her.  I have created a new habit of kissing her on the forehead whenever I pick her up in the middle of the night. It helps me remember to keep my frustration at bay.

Every child, heck, in all honesty everybody wants to know they are loved, that they are the center of your attention.  Even if it is for just one song.

I hope you have a “Happy Birthday” kind of day.


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