Of Fathers and Sons

And the long journey in Between

It’s January 6th and I’m just getting back to the grindstone after an extended Christmas and New Year holiday. Although I love what I do, it was difficult indeed to get back to work.

I read somewhere that no one ever reaches the end of his life and says “I should have spent more time at the office.”

This year, I made the time to spend it with my family after all the decorations were gone and the mess was cleaned up. I was reminded once again how very much I enjoy being a father.

My son Nicholas is two, and is the greatest adventure I have ever had. My wife and I are fond of gloating with each other about how “darned cute” he is.

Not so many years ago, I was a Marine Infantryman with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment (and several others before that). It was there that I learned how very much it means to be with the ones we love over the holidays… or anytime for that matter.

As an active duty Marine, I had the privilege of meeting, and working with people from all sorts of backgrounds and cultures, from all walks of life, and all ladders of the socioeconomic ladder.

Shared hardship breeds closeness, and companionship like nothing else in this world. And it was in these relationships and the sharing of personal revelations that I began to subconsciously connect the dots between the childhood relationship between father and son, and the pathologies of adulthood.

The Marine Corps taught me more about people, character, relationships and psychology than Dr. Phil could teach in a lifetime. So, I wanted to pass along a couple of salient points about baby boys.

We are born into this world scared, naked, and uncomfortable. Family is all that we have.

If you are a father:

  1. You can never hug your child too much.
  2. Make sure to tell your son that you love him, and do it every day.
  3. Have you ever told him that you’re glad he is your little boy?
  4. Sons desperately seek fathers’ approval. Pay attention to what he does and encourage him.

The myth of the “steely-eyed stoic” is popular among new Marine recruits. But the truth, as they say, is much more surprising.

I read a study while on active duty, which stated that the most effective soldiers (those who get the most rounds on target when it counts) are the ones with a sense of humor, who are comfortable with themselves.

What does that have to do with raising a son? Simply this… Teach your son by example to express emotions appropriately. This is not an admonishment to “get in touch with his feelings,” or turn him into a sniveling Nancy boy.

I’m talking about learning to control fear and anger. To recognize and avoid those who are hateful, and to appreciate those who are honest and forthright. To judge others based on their actions, rather than their words, and to be an example for those who were not taught these things.

The result will be a more confident, well-adjusted child who is comfortable with himself and his ability.

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