“I talk and talk and talk, and I haven’t taught people in 50 years what my father taught by example in one week.” — Mario Cuomo
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I got a call from my college senior yesterday. He asked me if there was any special oil that the old SUV he drives up at school needed to be asked for when he took it in for an oil change. It’s the kind of questions that sons ask dads all the time. But, I was reminded that there are so many things in this life that you just need to experience to understand. I am NOT a mechanically astute dad. I remember changing the water pump on a 1960-something Rambler when I was in my late teens. Over the past few years I’ve learned how to better manage my car but I’ll never be the first person others think of to ask for help in working on their car. Compared to my dad, though, I’m Mr. Goodwrench. I don’t mean any disrespect to my dad. He’s got other great qualities. Mechanical aptitude isn’t one of them. Though I’m no NASCAR pit crew member, I have decided that I want my son to learn the basics in life that will help him take care of things, even if he’s not gifted in that way. I realize my influence on him toward that end is stronger than I might naturally think.
Here’s a test for you–next time you meet someone that has a specific talent, ask them if they learned it from or worked on it together with their dad. Last night on American Idol, Siobhan Magnus was asked by Ryan Seacrest about the song she chose. She chose the song she did (House of the Rising Sun) because it was her dad’s favorite. Then, she indicated that her dad was the best singer she had ever heard (and said that her dad had said that she was the best singer he had heard). Point is, a dad’s involvement in a child’s life is often the reason that the child grows into a skill or even a career.
Mario Cuomo stated it well in the quote above. A dad’s influence in their child’s life is much more impacting than anything else when it’s done out of love for the child. As an aside, a dad’s influence is just as powerful the opposite direction as well in leaving a lasting legacy of hurt and pain when NOT not done in love.
For discussion: What seeds have you sown into your child’s life in terms of skill or encouraging a talent that you’ve seen the fruit of later? Or, how did your dad build into you around a skill or talent that you’ve benefited from throughout your life?