Saturday, April 20, 2013

a glimpse into a father-son relationship

Last week, the football coach at school loaned me a book to read.
Backtrack a few months ago to when this same football coach, Steve, approached me about an idea to bring a guest speaker to our community.  He wanted Jeff Erhrmann to speak to students at Liberty.  Being a non-football person, I had no idea who he was talking about so he sent me a link to share with my ASB students. 
 Click here to see the clip.

By this time, Dad had been gone about four months and by the end of the clip, I was crying.  My sweet students were stunned into silence (even though they were used to my tears in those first months).  Why is this guy making their teacher cry?  They didn't see the connections that were so clear to me.  The lines that connected Steve to my dad, whom he loved like a son.  The lines that connected my dad to high school athletics  The lines that connected my dad to his father and to my brother.  I felt Dad had orchestrated Steve to bring this speaker in but the approval wasn't my decision.  It was the kids.  I wiped my tears, lead a discussion on whether or not bringing out this speaker met our vision and mission in ASB and, within minutes, they had agreed to support the visit.  Joe is coming out to us in August.

So, back to Steve leaving the book for me to read.  I inhaled it.  I loved it.  And I started reflecting on the father-son relationships that were closest to me.

From a young age, I instinctively knew the relationship my father had with my brother was unique.
Not because they were boys. 
 Not because my brother was the baby of the family 
Not because the two of them looked exactly the same.

The relationship was different because of how my father would talk with my brother.  Words like "respect", "integrity", "honesty" was uttered between them in virtually every conversation.   My dad intentionally created my brother's character, using love and respect.
I'm not saying he didn't do these things for my sister and I.  He did.  But for my brother, he used the lessons to create a man and that is so very different.
Until I read this book, I didn't realize how intentionally Dad parented.  I have worked with hundreds of students and sadly, so many of the boys are trying to prove something to their fathers to gain approval, affection, or attention.  For some, they eventually find peace.  For others, the struggle lasts well into marriages and parenthood.
My brother never had to prove anything to my dad.  He was loved for simply being Patrick and being the best Patrick he could be, was all Dad ever wanted. 

Dad told my brother he loved him every single day.  My brother was lucky enough to know Dad and has absolutely no regrets about their relationship.  I believe that bond and relationship is why Dad wanted Patrick at his side when he passed away.

It is amazing.
It is beautiful. 

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that my brother will do the same with his son.
And he will do it so very well.
So, that's the first relationship.
My, this is becoming a lengthy post....
The second father-son relationship is this one.
Oh, how I love those faces.
One of the best decisions we ever made was for Eric to stay home with Alexander.
I see that so clearly now.
My dad used to tell me Eric was meant to be a father, being a father would be his greatest accomplishment, and believed wholeheartedly in Eric staying home with Alexander.
Sure, there are some rough days and the house isn't as clean as I want it.
Sure, I get insanely jealous of Eric spending his days at home.
Sure, I wish I had the patience to be a stay-at-home mom.
But let's be real.  Staying at home ain't me.
Eric is building our son's character in the same way my father did with Patrick.
And I didn't realize it until I read the book.
Eric is building our son into a man.
It is a mighty, mighty task for a father.
And my husband is rocking it.
He intentionally parents Alexander so Alexander is learning that he can be secure in being himself.
He tells him he loves him. Every day.
He tells him he is proud of him. Every day.
Eric does not shame him, embarass him, make fun of him or treat him any less than who he is.
He tells him he can be anything he wants and encourages his endless questioning.
Eric doesn't make Alexander prove anything to him on the athletic court, in the classroom or in our home.
He just allows him to be.
And loves him.  No matter what.
It is amazing.
It is beautiful.
It fills my heart with joy.


  1. Michelle:
    You know how much I love you and reading this confirms again for me why. Your dad would be so very proud to read this. What a wonderful lady you have grown to be. How lucky all your students are to have you in their lives not to mention your family and friends. I am now going to buy the book and read it ASAP.


    1. Tanya, thank you. The book is a very easy read, and gives insight to the father-son relationship on a multitude of levels. In addition, I loved the part where I connected it to the character building I do with my students. What my dad did with Patrick was normal to me. Turns out, it was a gift.


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