By Joe Rector
I recently changed jobs, but my duties still revolve around moving vehicles. In this new position, my travels are confined to the parking lot of the business. I’ve met some new folks and talked with them about a variety of things. It’s during one of those workdays that I discovered some wise words.
Most of the men are dads; they’ve been through the wars with their children, and from those experiences they have come up with several pearls of wisdom which have been shared with their children. I contributed some of mine during the conversation. In the end, we smiled, shook our heads, called to mind personal memories, and then sent up small prayers of thanks.
Every dad, as well as every mom, knows that at some point a verbal sparring match will commence. It begins around the time the first offspring becomes a teenager. What were once pleasant home environments turned into war zones where dads and the children lob explosive barbs at each other.
My daughter loved me dearly, at least until she entered high school. Then we argued and engaged in a battle of wills. At one meal when she was only 14, Lacey said,
“I wish I could leave here and never come back!”
My reply: “I wish I could help you pack your bags!”
Four years later we followed Lacey to MTSU to begin college. After 45 minutes, Amy, Dallas, and I hopped back in the car and headed home. That night, my daughter called home and cried that we hadn’t spent any time with her. I was confused and told her that I thought she wanted to get away. A transformation occurred right then, and nothing better came from her college years than the return of the daughter who I love so much and who loves me.
Most dads set limits on their children. They set times to be home and limits as to when and where the children can go. The age-old complaint from the teen is,
“All of my friends can…, so why can’t I?”
A fellow employee told me how he answered the question. He simply stated,
“I don’t feed your friends, but I feed you. I don’t care what they do.”
Sometimes our teenaged children are under the mistaken expression that they are brilliant; they are sure that their parents are drooling morons. This same friend had a serious discussion with his daughter. He told her that she needed to find something big to be in charge of while she knew everything. He added that it was important for her to do it immediately because her gift of knowing it all wouldn’t last too long.
Of course, sometimes dads allow quips to roll out of our mouths before they think. I’ve responded to some unbelievable stories from my children with,
“I was born at night, but not last night.”
Bill Cosby, before he fell into total disgrace, recalled that his dad threatened his misbehavior with the line,
“I’ll take you out and make another one that looks just like you!”
Perhaps the best comment that my new friend made to his daughter summed up the situation and what dads are trying to do. He once told his daughter,
“As far as life is concerned, you can see just to the top of the hill. I can see what’s on the other side. I can help you prepare for what lies ahead if you’ll take advantage of my experience.”
That’s what we dads usually are trying to do: guide our children toward the right decisions. If we are successful enough, our kids turn out to be good persons who seem to have listened to our unsolicited pieces of wisdom. The greatest compliment my daughter has given came after she’d disciplined her son Madden. She said she stopped talking and immediately realized that she sounded just like me. That’s good enough for me; maybe our “young-uns” are listening and will pass on the wisdom of dads.