You don’t raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they’ll turn out to be heroes, even if it’s just in your own eyes. ~Walter M. Schirra, Sr.
A friend of ours is having problems with his 18-year-old son. Not only is he not being a very good member of the family at the moment, but he is highly aggressive and constantly wants to fight his father, probably to show that he should be treated as a man and not a boy! My wife says its overactive teenage testosterone and the proverbial “right of passage” that teenage boys face. I think she is partly right, hormones do weird things to teenagers. In my day the phrase was “he’s been substituted for a space alien” and I guess that was true for me.
But there is something else going on between fathers and sons that I guess we will never quite understand. Maybe I should watch Disney’s The Lion King again! For example, my father had five children, the first four of them boys. During the 50’s when we were all young, my father was working plus going to school at the same time in order to get a Master’s Degree in Education. I rarely saw him and when I did, he was either tired or pre-occupied. As I look back on it, not the best role model for head of the family, but certainly for work ethic.
I had a strange relationship with my dad so I can sympathise with my fried and the current troubles with his teenager. Between the years 1976 and 1986 my father and I never spoke or even tried to communicate. To him I was a failure and to me he was a narrow-minded critic. As you can see, it was not our “finest hours”.
I was a failure in his eyes because I gave up my Ph.D. degree (he always wanted a Ph.D. in the family) and switched to being a business entrepreneur. Not the normal thing to do in 1976 (but a more respected choice now a days). To me he was a narrow-minded critic because he only believed in one way, formal education, as the path to success. For me to leave Harvard with only a Master’s Degree and then to give up on a Ph.D. degree was to him, unthinkably stupid. He saw a Ph.D. as a ticket to success. I guess I saw it differently.
My father died at the age of 80 but I am glad to say that the last few years of his life we were closer than we had ever been. He realised that I had built a successful global company and I guess he finally understood that success can come from hard work and not just a Ph.D. degree. I realised, sadly too late in life, that he was a very talented and witty guy who had done a hero’s job at raising a family of five children on an educator’s meagre salary.
By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong. ~Charles Wadsworth
A wise man once said we do the best we can with the level of understanding and awareness we have at the time. That was certainly true of my dad and I.
Tight Lines . . .
John R Childress