The following is a guest post by my beloved Dad.
On Being a Father
By Bob Alexander
Children do not look at a father as a provider for security, food, shelter, etc. That’s how we see ourselves. These things are a given and a child isn’t likely to even think of them.
What a child needs from you is your approval – a validation of their worth and importance. The child isn’t aware of this. All they know is that when they show you a scribbled figure that looks somewhat like a letter, or a house, or a rainbow, that you should be proud and effusive in your praise. Always look for something to be pleased about in everything they do.
Your child is entitled to one-on-one time with you. When we lived in Naperville, IL, I would take a vacation day and one of the girls and I would take the commuter train into Chicago for the day. I did this with each child. Only take one child. If you take two children, one will always be more assertive, older, or in some way would get the lion’s share of the attention. This defeats the purpose. Let the child set the pace, stop and look at what they want to see, eat an ice cream if that is what they want to do. If they want to go in the Disney store in Sears Tower, do it and be patient – enjoy their reaction. These are bonding memories that she will never forget.
As the children got older the activities changed. Heather and I took our first backpacking trip to the Rockies when she was 10 years old. She carried her own backpack with her things the whole time. She would do anything you would do, but she left no doubt that she was a girly girl. I couldn’t be more proud of her.
Our last trip was when I turned sixty and both Heather and her younger sister Amy went on that last trip. I watched Amy catch her first trout.
As my three girls got older, my involvement morphed into reassuring them when they started to take life away from home and taking steps towards a career and independence. It was gut-wrenching to watch Heather get on a plane and leave to study in Russia, and later to go to Thailand for her internship. She was physically out of my reach to assist her if she was in trouble. She has proved capable of dealing with everything that came her way, and had an exciting career in Washington D.C. She called one day (on 9-11-2001) and said she could see the smoke from the pentagon. After two trips to China on public relations assignments she moved to Atlanta and finally home to Knoxville.
Amy graduated from college and worked for an organization that assists girls who are in trouble, on drugs, homeless, or with child. They would take these girls and teach them how to handle life, run their affairs, balance a checkbook, take care of a child if that was the case, or whatever was needed to make them able to make their way in the world. This was an amazing operation.
My daughter, Jennifer, works at a radio station. I drive to the bank listening to her on the radio. When I get into the bank guess who is being piped through the P.A. system? When I am in the dentist’s chair with instruments hanging out of my mouth, Jennifer makes a commercial and I point to the radio and say, “Thash my dotter.”
All three girls have married, have excellent husbands, and have given my wife and I five wonderful grandchildren.
Looking back, I suppose my main assignment as a father has been encourager-in-chief and head cheerleader.
I thank my lucky stars for you, Dad. I’m so glad God sent me to you. Happy Father’s Day.
Other Posts on Father’s Day: