Dads: A Letter to West Franklin
West Franklin Family,
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the massive influence dads have on their children. Just this morning on my walk, I saw a 7 or 8 year old boy straining to see his dad work a front end loader. The boy was in awe. That was his daddy and he was so proud. You could all but visibly see the images of him being like his dad one day passing through his imaginative mind.
This week started with me making a smart aleck remark to my oldest son. I was in a bad mood. I was late getting out the door. He was stressed. Zoom wasn’t working for school. A recipe for loud volume coming out of my mouth. As usual, I said something I regret. I hate it when I do that. I hope he forgets.
The way dads influence athletic phenoms is fascinating and perplexing. I am currently reading Andre Agassi’s remarkable autobiography Open. (Highly recommend, but fair warning – language isn’t PG.) I also started a new Podcast about Tiger Woods this week. (Again – highly recommend, but fair warning – content and language isn’t PG.) The influence their dads had on their lives and careers are immeasurable. In both cases, the influence was not good. The men obviously peaked in their sport. But it came at life-altering costs. In other words, their dads influenced them drastically, but didn’t make them better men. I am amazed, while reading and listening, how both Woods and Agassi still experience the deep (mostly negative) impact their father’s had on their lives.
Intentionally or unintentionally; negatively and/or positively – what we dads do with our children will impact them long after we are gone.
This week I saw three twenty-something’s watch their father be placed into the ground at a cemetery. Moments later, I saw the father of the deceased watch his son be lowered. All visibly (and rightfully so) shaken. The children wondering if they would remember all their dad taught them. The dad wondering if he did all he could for his boy.
I also had a conversation this week with someone whose family is still being traumatically impacted by the actions of their dad. . . who, by the way, passed away a long time ago.
Dads, we matter. God designed it this way. Fathers have a deep and lasting impact on their children. Period. I don’t know if I have met anyone whose life is neutral in relation to his/her dad. Can’t happen. There is no neutrality when it comes to dad-child impact.
By God’s good grace (and I do mean HIS good grace), Luke asked me to ride with him yesterday. To celebrate the “end” of summer and the “start” of actually going to school, the Pearson five went to Opryland Hotel’s Sound Waves water park. Before we left, Luke asked if just he and I could do a couple of slides together. Ummmm, yes. We had been there several hours. I was already dry and eager to get out of my flip flops (I hate my feet). But I didn’t think twice about granting his request. When you’ve read about Andre Agassi and listened about Tiger Woods and buried a man who was a son and a dad – you don’t really think about saying no.
While walking to the first slide, Luke asked if it was worth the money to come to the park. My response? “Not until right now.” That’s right. At that moment I didn’t mind paying $4,000 to park or $600 for an ice cream sandwich. Having a moment or two with just him was priceless.
I am not sure what my point is today. It’s just that I have been inundated with the reality of how deep the impact every father has on his/her child. I am sure I speak for all of us dads when I say, “I don’t want to blow it.”
Dads, if your kid calls you, pick up. If you need to call them, call ’em. If they want to ride a water ride, go ride it. If they see you on a front end loader, let them ride with you for a bit. If they still run up to you when you get home from work, hug them extra. If not, go run up to them. What you do right now will pay HUGE dividends later. Long after your gone.
Longing not to blow it,