More about Fatherhood

Today, when all four of my kids are grown up, I find precious moments of happiness in one-on-one rendezvous that I have with them or their spouses. It can be watching a ball game together or a having a personal chat in a restaurant over a glass of wine, or simply them approaching me to brainstorm about something, or even, believe it or not, when I approach them seeking for their advice. I find myself initiating such special encounters more and more often, never satiated.
Dr. Eli Katz writes the following in his book “Let Them Fly”:

I always see in front of me the faded eyes of men who lie on their death-beds in a hospital, and with a sad look they search for their kids: “Where are they? Why are they not coming to visit?” they painfully ask themselves. They cannot understand how their relationships with their kids became so cold and distant. And only then, when it is already too late, they understand that they had been a part of the wrong race. Should they have a second chance, they would probably change their priorities, investing more in their kids, their homes and even in themselves.

Dr. Eli Katz ends this chapter that talks about relationships between fathers and sons with sharing a touching incident that he had with his eldest son. The story sheds some different light on our daily struggle as parents: how should we react to our grown-up kids, when they are making mistakes and causing harm:

Nadav, my son, was in his senior year of high school, just few weeks after receiving his driving license. Unfortunately, he had already managed to be involved in a small accident that resulted in an ugly ‘scar’ on our family car. I remember a day when Nadav came home with a typical apathetic teenager look on his face, the kind that makes parents feel transparent and could easily drive any father insane. “I slightly crashed the car again”, he muttered as if talking to himself, and the vein in my forehead started pulsing more heavily. “I just missed the turn,” he explained, “I drove over the sidewalk, and this new Honda was just parking there…” 

I wanted very much to preach to him, to let him know that a car can easily become a deadly weapon, and that he must be more careful and responsible if he wants to use my car in the future. I wanted to tell him that he disregards my assets, that two accidents in two weeks are really far too much. My anger kept on bubbling and I was ready to flood him with the entire necessary father-like words in order to teach him a lesson about responsibility and self-discipline.

But then I realized that under the veil of his indifference my son undoubtfully had been feeling guilty, humiliated and mainly disappointed in himself.

At that moment, as we were walking in tense silence along the street, I put my arm on his shoulder and said in a tender voice: “I remember the first dents that I caused to my father’s car and how bad I felt then with myself and with my dad.” He glanced at me and didn’t say anything. “Let’s put a note with our phone number on the Honda,” I added, “and then let’s have a coffee together in a nearby cafe.”

This is a very simple story – I practically hadn’t preached anything to my son and, as a matter of fact, nothing special happened. Nevertheless, when Nadav put his hand around my waste and hugged me as we were walking down the street, I felt that it was a very special moment.

(“Let Them Fly” by Eli Katz, PhD. – Translated by me from Hebrew)

Something in the story and in the father’s attitude moved me. We normally tend not to let such incidents slide over, thinking that this is how we educate our kids and let them understand the severity of the situation. But still, I wish I could always react like Eli Katz.
 

Use it as a nice food for thought and don’t forget to enjoy the summer vacation with your kids,

Fireworks (58)
Shuka, Thursday, July 1, 2010

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Comments

Shuka

i loved that story. I am alwys fighting with my son and this makes you think

regards

Roland

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