The joy of fatherhood: Helpful tips for fathers and men who want to become fathers
by Morris Turner
“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.” – George Washington Carver
That quote accurately describes most of us as grandparents or at least it will at some point, as he says, “in our lives.” With all the miles traveled, lessons learned (hopefully) and general knowledge under our belts, we become incredible sources of joy and wonder for the children in our lives.
Here are some of the roles we can play in supporting and enriching the lives of the children around us.
Yes, to children, especially very young ones, we are heroes for the things we do naturally (at this point) and may seem to have no particular value to us. Fixing a child’s skates, tightening the wheel on a bicycle or putting peroxide on a cut present the kinds of moments children never forget and can promote us to hero status.
Nurturer and cheerleader
Now this is an area that all of us should be well skilled in, as we’ve all suffered setbacks and difficult times. We now have the opportunity to slow life down and talk about what it takes to succeed at something or come back from a loss or what may seem to be a failure. Through the wisdom of grandparenthood, we show them that when one door closes, a window opens.
We carry within us our family story and the story of the world as we have experienced it. This gives us a great opportunity to share not only who we are, but our family traditions, our cultural heritage and a sense that all of us fit into a larger world beyond ourselves. Through us, children can laugh and learn about what came before. Yes, there was once a time when there were no cell phones, as difficult as that may be to imagine. How many of you can remember telephones with long cords that ran all through the house? Now that is history.
Student and teacher
While we have much to teach from all we know and have lived through, one our most important roles is that of listener and student. Children, young and older, enjoy talking about themselves and sometimes will even give us an inside view of what they feel and think – if we listen closely. Sometimes I get too carried away talking about what I’ve done and need to just sit and listen quietly.
Next month, I will share some activities we can enjoy with our children and grandchildren during the upcoming spring and summer. Until then, remember that we each bring unique talents and abilities to this life and so do our children. It may not seem like much sometimes, but like the filé in the gumbo, we are totally necessary.
Morris Turner is the father of two sons, ages 39 and 35. Over the past 45 years he has worked with children and young people in a variety of settings, including as preschool teacher, career counselor, family mentor and sports coach. He is also an author and recognized researcher in the area of African American settlement in the United States, but his greatest pleasure today is learning to be a good grandpa. He can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 707-794-0729.