When I was approached with becoming the fatherhood consultant for Cambria County account I had a lot of reservations… I wasn’t entirely sure what this is going to mean as well as what it would require. But I jumped in headfirst because it felt important to me on a variety of different levels, not the least of which being as a person who enjoys learning and being challenged this was clearly presenting both opportunities! It started out with a series of trainings and webinars, which led me to a host of information I immediately began to ingest… I started to really take a long hard look at myself and my personal brand of fatherhood that I present to my kids to the best of my ability. What was immediately sobering to me was how much I felt I fell short of hitting the mark on a variety of different topics. I started soul-searching and asking myself some really difficult questions that ended up making me feel very very uncomfortable. I reflected extensively on the type of fatherhood experience I had with my own dad and realized in that moment how blessed I was!! I was very fortunate to count myself amongst the kids who did have an intact household with both parents represented, as well as a dad that showed me so many of the different things the world had to offer both good and bad. This was important to him to illustrate that there is always a counter to any argument, a bad result to any match the good ones. It was important for him to illustrate that life will not always hand you lemons, sometimes it hands you small miracles and you have to be open enough to see them as such or you’ll think they are just burdens disguised as a puzzle. My dad taught me how to count time on drums during one family trip where are we headed to Chicago to visit relatives… This is long before the age of the Internet and cell phones and what have you when families would travel in the car and sing songs and play games that families would play that seem like distant memories in our technological world that we now live in. Sometime during that ride I found myself listening to a song by the band The Cars, and the song was called “Drive”. I couldn’t figure out how the drummer knew when to hit the snare… it was the lesson that unbeknownst to me would catapult me into the farthest reaches of the goals I had imagined later on in my young adult life that saw me traveling the world playing music that I can trace the love of directly back to my dad. My dad also made it clear to me as a young adult aspiring to be an accomplished musician that it was always a good idea to have something to fall back on, and while he never discourage that dream he was always a realist and he was always very pragmatic.
It is in this soul-searching that I realized that this is not the perveiling atmosphere we find ourselves in nowadays, meaning a lot more kids have a much more difficult relationship with their dad if they have one at all. I comb through the statistics and read horror stories of what these children experience as a result of their not having a male role model in the home. It doesn’t even have to be a dad, it could be an uncle, partner, grandfather or even close family friend. Sometimes it isn’t the dad‘s choice to be disengaged sometimes it’s trouble with the family dynamic, the girlfriend, or the wife. Sometimes it is something different altogether like in incarceration, CYS, mental illness or even treatment for addiction. Lots of bridges have to be mended lots of hearts need to heal and during this process of healing gaps can often be the side effect. As a person in recovery I count myself very fortunate that my children did not know the dad that was lost to addiction and was very ugly person, but what’s important is that I know who that person was and what that person had to go through in order to become who he is now, and this is another reason why I could not turn down the opportunity to atone and perhaps have a hand in bringing those people back to the table because I myself have gone through every one of the things you can go through to keep you away from your children, thankfully before I had them.
Now I find myself in the position of facilitating something that after reading and taking all these webinars left me completely humbled and almost feeling defeated until I read one sentence somewhere in the middle of the programming manual. It wasn’t anything particularly profound, it wasn’t anything particularly life changing, it wasn’t even anything particularly poetic or clever. It was just something that caught my attention and pulled me from my reverie of feeling less than and perhaps incomplete. As a matter of fact I read it and didn’t even realize how important it was until I was reflecting on the chapter in particular as a whole. I realize that that one sentence summed up this entire training that I’ve been taking and therefore sums up the entire program I am on the precipice of facilitating in the hopes that our community can be strengthened by fathers becoming reacquainted and re-engaged in their children’s lives!! If you want to know what that sentence was then let’s make this fatherhood initiative a thing in Cambria County in general and grow it into a thriving community where a dad can feel proud whether they are the most accomplished, successful person in the community or the guy waiting in the bathroom with his wife/girlfriend freaking out that it just might come back positive on the test strip… or whether you just need the reassurance of knowing that maybe you are doing the best that you can and just didn’t know there are resources out there to help you do just a little bit better or fine-tune what you already know. If you want to know what that simple sentence was you need to ask yourself what really matters most and what you think is the best possible thing you could do for your children? If you want to know what that sentence was then maybe you should call Beginnings, call the school district, call the local churches, whoever you have to, pick up the phone and call to make sure there is a fatherhood initiative in your community, in your neighborhood, and if not, reach out to me to start one!!! Not only will it be absolutely worth the time you invest, the return on that investment will reap benefits far beyond what you can imagine because it’s not just one family, it’s everyone’s family learning, growing, and improving together for the sake of today, tomorrow, and all the possibilities that follow!! (::)