Simply Elevate Issue 6 June 2013 - Page 24

How to Be a Great Father Story by: Keith Foster You probably thought when you read the title of this article that I was going to tell you exactly how to be a great father and I am. One day when Kameron was about 8 he asked me a question. He didn’t know it was a life changing moment for his father, but I can tell you it was the moment I realized I wasn’t the kind of father I wanted to be. I had an epiphany. He asked me this… “Dad, are you ever going to come to my soccer games?” The world stood still for a moment as I tried to think if I had actually been to one of his games. I hadn’t. T here are no tests to pass. No license to get. No classes to take. No mental evaluations or physical fitness tests required. You don’t even have to fill out an application. The only requirement is that you be male and have reached puberty. All you have to do is find a female with all the other qualifications you have and you can become a father. It must be the easiest job in the world. I wasn’t around a lot the first 5 years or so. I had a career that demanded lots of my time. I was climbing the corporate ladder. There was money to be made, and it was important to me that my children had everything they needed, and even the stuff they just wanted. Father’s Day Special 24 When I was around, I was hard on Kameron. I expected him to learn So how did the job become so hard? quickly and excel at everything he I mean I saw other guys with children tried. When I taught him to play before I had mine. It usually didn’t catch I criticized every throw that take very long before I would say to went off target. He is smart, he can myself, “I will never let my kids act read a book and remember everythat way.” Or “I don’t understand thing in it. He reads technical manuwhy people let their kids just run als for fun. So I criticized him for not loose like that.” Or “This generation getting straight A’s. of kids is going to heck in a hand basket, and their parents are helping When our second son was born, them get there.” Kameron was the best big brother anyone could ask for. He still is Then my wife and I had our first child, and both of them are grown men. I a son. We named him Kameron. I can’t remember the two of them ever was 31 when he was born, and I was exchanging a harsh word. Kameron convinced I knew how to raise kids. let his brother tag along wherever I was determined my children would he went. Kameron even wanted know the rules and follow them. I his little brother to come to his first was going to insist he be a model boy/girl party. Kameron was 14, and child and grow up to me a model his brother was 9. We would have citizen. And you know what? He understood completely if he had not was, and he did. But he did it in spite wanted his little brother there. of me, not because of me. Over the next few years, I began to start caring less about work and tried harder to get to soccer games, baseball games, band concerts and family gatherings more often. About 4 years later, I had an opportunity to take a severance from my job that included me being able to retire early. I jumped at the chance. I went back to school and became a teacher so I could have the same schedule as my children, to be with them in the summers and holidays. I wasn’t able to undo any of the things I had already messed up with the boys. I can’t get those lost opportunities back. I can’t tell you how many times I have wished I could. How much I regret those lost opportunities to cheer, tell my ch ildren and my wife how proud I am of them or how much I love them. Nope, those opportunities are gone, and they can’t be recovered. So, how do you become a great father? I know how now. Spend time with your children, be proud of them and tell them so. Let them make mistakes and don’t freak out about it. Be gentle and kind with them. Go out and play catch with them and laugh about it every time you have to go chase an errant throw. You probably need the exercise anyway. Don’t 25