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Natural Awakenings Central New Jersey

Kids, Teens and Fathers

May 31, 2019 02:44AM
Last year, we introduced a new column called Teen Voices written by Hannah Adamson. The idea behind it was to help parents (and other adults) gain a glimpse into the world through a teen’s eyes.  Although with tears of sadness, we now wish a joyous farewell to Hannah as she moves on to attend George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. In her words, “I’m in the honors college and planning to double major in Conflict Analysis and Resolution, and Global Affairs. I’m very excited. I loved writing for Natural Awakenings and hope I have contributed to a teen’s world.”

We think teens need a voice, and we are pleased that we can help provide a forum for their views. If all goes well, we will introduce a new contributor next month. The column was always intended to welcome a variety of voices. So, if you know a good teen writer candidate who might like to lend their time and talents, please drop us a line.

In 2018, we received a lot of positive feedback on our June Publisher’s Letter so, by popular demand, here is our tribute to fathers again.

In raising my own four children, striving to better understand their world through their eyes was one of the most powerful tools I found.

This simple approach does help build a foundation of trust, however, building trust with a teenager is a day-to-day business. Some days, you are best friends. The next day, one of us is from another planet. As in most things, it is a process. Listening (when my 16-year-old talks to me) is more important than speaking.

No Einstein moment here. The goal is to learn something, not tell something, and keeping that in focus is paramount to building trust. But let’s step back to the beginning, long before the teen years.

Today I asked a friend to tell me about being a father. (He has a three-year-old (his first), and a 16-year-old stepson.) “I love being a father. It feels totally natural. Nothing has been more rewarding,” he replied. “The father-son relationship is incredibly special. The responsibility of being a guide to his future makes me a better person every day of my life. Seeing the world through his eyes brings me back to the purity of being a child where everything is new, exciting.” As he was speaking, it dawned on me that happy should fit in there someplace because who really laughs, smiles and shows happiness more than children? My friend also pointed out a reminder to us all:  Children can put your day in true perspective. Their simplicity reminds us that we are the ones who complicate the equation. However, parenting is complicated. It is not easy. It brings feelings of joy, sorrow, guilt, anxiety and every other emotion you can possibly think of—sometimes all within five minutes.

Fatherhood has certainly changed in my lifetime, and I am so thankful for how fathers today have embraced the profession of fatherhood. Some of us had to get ego, selfishness, predetermined behavior, learned behavior and, in some cases, bad models out of the way before we could even comprehend what fatherhood was about.

I am so proud as I watch my friends embrace their role as a father—the sacrifices they make, the dedication they display, the love they show. We have come a long way as men and as fathers. For the younger male reading this, it might be hard to imagine but take my word—we have come a long way, baby.

So, to all the fathers out there—keep growing. Model for your children something to be proud of. Give them the love, give them the dad they deserve. Be their hero, be the best dad you can be, and they in turn will build the model for their children.

Isn’t that how it works.  Be love, be happy, be joy, be the man, BE DAD.

Happy Father’s Day!

Joe Dunne