The Power of Dads

Ken Griffey Sr. & Jr.

Many of you have asked who won the Father’s Day Contest. All of the entries spoke to the tremendous power of dads, but I could only pick one: this was the submission from Ben Mathews of Florida:

Ever since a few years ago when my father and I lived together we've been on terrible terms. I won't get into the details but currently, we don't speak or see each other. When we're forced to be together due to family gatherings there's nothing more than a forced smile and wave. My father and I are both stubborn and hard headed which has lead to us not speaking. I'm 16 and like any other teen, I thought I knew everything. I now understand why he did the things he did, but it's hard for me, an "independent young man", to accept fault. My dad is getting old and has never had the greatest health and I know he won't be around forever...I hope one day I muster the courage to tell him how I feel before it's too late. I also hope that if I am one day blessed with a son, I use this experience as an example of how to keep my son close to me no matter what happens. 

I appreciated Ben’s honesty and to be frank, I was simply touched by his story. Ben is taking his dad to the game – hopefully this will be a positive step in their relationship.

Speaking of dads, my friend good friend Greg Hague has started a wonderful website sharing stories of remarkable dads - as told by their children of all ages. It's called Savvy Dad, and I chatted with Greg about the origin of the site, as well as the commonalities he's found among the different stories:

BS: What made you start the website?

GH: It all started with my dad - he was a huge influence in my life. He started with nothing; I started with so many advantages because he had done well. And he taught me so much - both by mentoring me and by example. He helped me learn the life lessons you need to be successful. So when I had kids, I started telling them "Chubby" stories – that was my dad’s nickname. I wasn’t preaching with these stories. Just talking. But there was always something to learn from them. My kids started sharing the stories with their friends, and I wanted to share them with even more people. And to hear stories about other dads.

Why was he called Chubby?

He was actually a skinny guy. I don't know! Everyone just called him that.

But the site is not just for kids.

Not at all. I have three boys in their thirties, but I'm every bit as much a dad as I was when they were nine years old. Our goal is to share stories of how great dads help their daughters and sons succeed in life. What they do. What they say. How they impact their kids' lives.

There’s so much value in having kids from 8 to 81 share the most meaningful thing their dad ever taught them. That is a world class dictionary on how to succeed in life.

After collecting the stories for a while, have you found commonalities between the dad stories?

We see a lot of commonalities. A few stand out. The first is that many dads seem to stop being mentors as their kids get older. They become friends, and that's great. But they stop teaching, coaching.

On the other hand, we’ve also seen stories where dads hang in there and mentor their kids for life.  This makes a huge difference. We see great value in dads continuing to coach their kids as they get older.

Dads can have an amazing impact on kids when they get in their late teens and twenties and even later. They have so much to share, but oftentimes they don't because they don't feel that's their role anymore.

What was the third commonality?

Another thing that threads through is the fathers who make it a point to teach their kids lessons in unusual ways. That makes a big difference.

Some of these lessons are easy to talk but not walk. The dads who have been effective teach by participation, and put their kids in memorable, challenging situations to make an impression.

We’ve had stories where dads have taken their kids on arduous trips and treks through the wilderness. And they teach life lessons along the way. The lessons "take" better this way – showing, not telling - and being together when things become a bit rough.

Do dads themselves submit any stories?

We only do stories shared by daughters and sons about their dads. Not the dads themselves. Our post from June 19 is a great sample of these stories.

Look for my own upcoming story on SavvyDad (it's about my mom, who basically was my dad, too) and buy Greg’s book, How Fathers Change Lives: Stories of Remarkable Dads, here.

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