Finding Your Own Connection

19 Apr

Earlier this month I received a letter from a long-time friend of mine, whom I’ll refer to as D. In it he expressed an exceptional amount of gratitude and praise for The Dad Connection, as well as glimpses into his own experience with fatherhood. I am increasingly moved by those who have found some truth in my book in addition to some relation to their own journeys. It is interactions like this that make the writing process feel like a success. I hope you find this letter as meaningful as I have.

Scott,
Just read your book. It’s great! It has the deep insight of a parent who was committed to living with and practicing core beliefs as you wound your way through the complexity of becoming a real dad, and not just a father. It has the honesty, forthrightness, and the good old-fashioned sense with a sensitivity about personal relationships.

I wish I had had this book when I was a young dad. I might have done much better when my kids were little. It took me a long time to make the connection to them of which you speak. Even a simple understanding of the pillars you describe would have helped me make better choices. My experiences as a child were, shall we say, less nurturing. And as an adult I began to mirror the parenting methods under which I was raised. But, somehow I also knew that I wanted to respect and give my children more responsibility than I had had as a child. Maybe that was the start of my bridge.

My dad, especially, did not agree with my approach. I recall a situation when the girls were about 8 or 9 and they wanted to take pictures with an expensive SLR. We just gave them the camera. My dad, and a to a certain extent my mom also, could not believe it and totally disagreed because they were sure the kids would break it. They took some good pictures and some crummy ones, but they didn’t break it. Interestingly, within the last several years, both of my parents have mentioned that example and said, in essence, “You were right about giving them the latitude to experiment even if it was with the expensive camera.”

From early on, I had accepted the fact that they were as much our children as they were people in their own right. They were real human beings, just smaller. We always felt that they should be given as much responsibility as they could handle; Make their own decisions; State their own opinions; Do their own work in their own time. Our job was to mostly keep them from hurting themselves.

I can recall coming to this conclusion/awareness when Maddie and Max went to preschool. I would come home from work and hear stories about what happened at school. It dawned on me that they would have many thousands of life experiences without me. Until that point, I thought I would be part of every aspect of their lives and see and feel everything they did. It came as a rude shock when at 5 they were already, in a sense, on their own and experiencing life without me. It was at that moment I knew that my role had changed. I was simply a caretaker to watch over them as they did their own growing into adults.

Anyway, thank you for writing this book. It is such a clear distillation of so many years of experience, reflection, and insight that any parent of any age could benefit from reading. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with the world. However long your journey was to get this written and published, it was worth it.

-D

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