Hanging with My Sons

So after watching How to Train Your Dragon, I’ve been reflecting on my relationship with my sons and how each of them have such different relationships with me. My oldest likes to engage me intellectually, a bit of a schemer, and do what I do. He asks questions, talks to me, challenges boundaries at every turn, writes, believes he’s more charming than he is, and watches television like it’s an interactive event. He’s his father’s son.

My youngest is a daredevil, physically and emotionally as he’s prone to wear his emotions on his sleeves. He loves to be held, constantly needs physical assurance that I’m there. So he hugs, enjoys snuggle time, lays on me, and holds my hand. He pretends to be shy, but really just enjoys keeping people at a distance and making them relate to him on his terms. It’s like raising my baby brother.

One thing it’s reminded me of is the need to be present for them. We often forget how much our relationships with our parents can teach us about our relationship with God, how it should be, what it ought to be, and what it isn’t. The longing of our heart is to be with our fathers (sometimes causing us to seek out adopted fathers or mentors or other role-models when one isn’t present).

Fathers can be absent in a variety of ways: emotionally distant, aloof; overly critical, abandoned us physically; or being abusive. Sadly, even these things can teach us (false) lessons about the idea of fathers: that they can’t be trusted, they are prone to abandon, they aren’t safe, they are prone to judge, they are prone to be painfully silent, they are prone to be abusive.

We teach when we aren’t intending and we communicate in all we say and do. What we model is more important than what we preach. To be known, find security, and have stability, that’s what I want my sons to know about fathers. Most importantly, that they are loved.

Will Someone Explain …

My fascination with all things Hoff?

My new INtake column is up, obviously on a topic that has been on my mind for a while now. Big shout out to my new brother-in-law, a great example of what it means “To be a man.”

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.

Holding My Son’s Hand

I imagine it will be tough to let go of my kids (my countdown clock aside). To get to that stage where I stop worrying, to stop thinking of them as my kid and let them be the adults they are one day supposed to be.

I’ve been thinking a lot about fathers and sons.

Every day I pick my oldest son up from school (which I like better because I kept forgetting him at the bus stop when the bus used to drop him off). Every day we hold hands when we leave, as he waves good-bye to friends, as we cross the road getting to our car.

I tell him that I like holding his hand and that one day he’ll consider himself to be too big. One day he won’t let me hold his hand in public, he won’t let me stroke his hair when he’s resting, he won’t let me be seen with him in public because I’ll be embarrassing (to which he said “I know” and little too quickly). Actually, his younger brother already is done: at 4, he’s “too big” to hold my hand.

Yep, my oldest is only in kindergarten, but I’m going to miss holding his hand.

Like most parents, I worry about what kind of men they are going to be and how best to train them to be the kind of men they ought to be. When I think about my own father, I think about how easy it is for children to point to the faults of their parents. We’re human, a smorgasbord of failings, but we try the best we can. However, my father was at least there for us and he loved us as best he could. So I’m reminded by the simple power of presence. Of being there to listen and talk to my children and I worry a little less about possibly screwing them up, despite my worst antics, because being there is most of the battle. Holding their hands when I’m able and when they’ll let me.

So I’m going to miss holding my son’s hand. Probably as much as my dad misses holding mine.

Today’s his birthday. Happy birthday, dad.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.