A Father’s Powerful Message: Local Dads Share Life-Shaping Stories
Jun 02, 2011 09:18AM
● By Linda Sechrist
Sharing appropriate, personal anecdotes as a way of teaching life lessons to children, as suggested in this month’s Inspiration article, “The Power of a Father’s Story,” is one of the many ways fathers can emotionally connect with their children. To give author John Badalament’s suggestion some local flavor, Natural Awakenings interviewed several dads whose childhood stories have served as helpful guideposts for their children.
Tony Hansen, Therapy on the Gulf“When I was around 7 years old, I stole a small football from the dime store,” says Tony Hansen, founder of Therapy on the Gulf. “When I went home to play with it, my mother questioned me about where I got it. I lied and told her I had found it. After more interrogation, I broke down and told her the truth… I’d stolen it.”
Hansen’s mother walked him to the store to confess to the manager. “I felt very ashamed and cried,” recalls Hansen. “The manager was so impressed with my mother and my honesty that he offered the football as a reward. I declined because I never wanted to see that football again in my life. He insisted I keep it.
“I learned two lessons: Don’t lie to your mother, and don’t steal,” Hansen continues. “I kept the football, and later, when my children asked me why I had a football and why they couldn’t play with it, I told each one that their lesson would come in time. It did, because all three stole something when they were very young.”
After one of the Hansen children stole a pack of gum, he explained his football story. “She dreadfully understood what was coming next,” he says. “You guessed it… we went down to the candy store, where she admitted her theft and paid for the gum, again reminding me of my young lesson learned. I still have the football.”
Dr. Michael Marcum, Perlmutter Health Center
Dr. Michael Marcum’s firstborn son never failed to push the inside of the envelope, especially when he went to college and didn’t attend oneclass. “After it appeared that my son was going to fail miserably at life, I asked him if he would consider the military,” says Marcum. “It wasn’t a choice I thought he would make, but I came from a military family, and it was one that I made at age 32, in order to finance my medical education,” he advises.
“We went to the recruiter’s office and then to lunch, where I told him the story of his birth and how much I missed him during my time in the military,” reflects Marcum. “He was only three months old when I served in Desert Storm, and I wanted him to deeply understand that it was the thought of my family that kept me going.”
The week before basic training graduation, Marcum’s son called to say that he’d failed the push-up part of his physical test and had to repeat it the following morning at 4:30 a.m. “He had two ravens tattooed on his arm, so I told him that the raven was my power animal and shared with him the story of the mythological Norse god Odin, who had two ravens, Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Memory), one on each shoulder. They traveled the world and came back to whisper in Oden’s ear what they saw.”
Marcum created a powerful image in his son’s mind. “I advised him, ‘When you go down for a push-up, think of Hugin and Munin flapping their wings to lift you effortlessly,’” Marcum recalls. “My wife and I got up at 4 a.m. that morning to do distance energy work, clear his field of anxiety and say prayers—he passed with flying colors.”
John Patton, Healing Arts CenterIt was traumatic for John Patton’s oldest daughter when the family moved from Virginia to Florida. “She had to start over after leaving her friends and a school where she excelled,” says the licensed mental health counselor and acupuncturist.
Patton recalled a childhood story to help his daughter through a rough transition after an antagonistic classmate followed her and a friend home from school. “The classmate confronted my daughter and tried to start a fight by knocking schoolbooks out of her hands,” he explains. “My daughter wouldn’t retaliate in front of her new friend; she just picked up her books and came home to tell us what happened.”
Patton shared a little league baseball story to draw an analogy that would help his daughter understand that the incident was not her fault. “When a pitcher, who didn’t like me, intentionally threw a ball so that it hit me, he laughed at me in front of the whole team,” he recalls. “I thought I was doing something wrong to antagonize the boy, but my coach and my mom helped me to understand that it wasn’t about me, but the boy who was bullying me. Like me, my daughter learned that it wasn’t up to her to solve the attitude problems of others.”
These fathers understand that childhood experiences leave valuable impressions that help shape the kind of person we become as an adult. Sharing appropriate stories as often as possible can help inspire and motivate, creating a legacy of connection between parent and child.