Sometimes Father Doesn’t Know Best

Father and Son

It is the culmination of a very long week, 6 PM on a Saturday night and I am home alone. Ray Charles is singing  Come Live with Me and the dog just brought me his leash.

We’ll go for a walk, I’ll bang out another couple sets of push ups, take a shower and then make myself some dinner. A little later I’ll crack open The Balvenie Caribbean Cask and pour myself a drink and sit outside and think.

Sometimes Father Doesn’t Know Best

Five years ago I screamed in my sleep and my screaming woke up my daughter. I don’t remember the dream, if I had I probably would have blogged about it but I don’t and I didn’t.

What I know is that my dreams are often graphic but they rarely put me in a state where you find me shouting in my sleep. My biggest fear is not being able to protect my kids from something truly awful.

It is that scene from a movie where you can see that awful event unfold in front of you and you take off at a dead sprint but you don’t get there in time.

During daylight and even the darkest night I rarely think or worry about that. I am pretty good about focusing my attention on things that are statistically possible and probable.


Yesterday my son came back from a three day school trip. I picked him up and watched as he staggered to the car. My little man was dead on his feet and I thought about how there was a time I would have scooped him up and carried him but that wasn’t going to happen here.

He is a teen, not a toddler and I wasn’t about to embarrass him in front of the other kids. Kids can be cruel and there is no reason to give them any ammunition.

When he got in he told me he went on the zip line and I told him how proud I was because when he left he told me he would never do such a thing. I told him that if you never step outside of your comfort zone, if you never challenge yourself you will never learn what you are truly capable of.

He smiled and told me he liked the zip line and told me a bit about his trip. There was much that he enjoyed but there is a bunch that he didn’t and he won’t tell me much about what that it was.

I know he wasn’t physically bullied or hurt. He told me that I shouldn’t worry about that and said he won’t tolerate that. We went back and forth a bit but he talked in circles and when I tried to find out more he told me he needed to talk to his friends.

I told him I respect that and that sometimes father doesn’t know best.

What Should I Do

When he was in 5th grade he had to do a genealogy project for school. During a classroom discussion his teacher told him that a family story wasn’t true and ridiculed him for “misunderstanding what he had heard.”

I went after the teacher. I tore her apart in an email and made an appearance at the school and demanded she provide an accounting for her behavior. I wanted to know why she thought she knew better about a family story that wasn’t a historical event.

What infuriated me was how she abused her position and made him feel ashamed. Last night I saw the look he had after that moment with her come back and it brought the anger back.

We can’t protect our children from everything. I don’t believe we should or that they need to be enclosed in bubble wrap. I am an advocate for teaching them coping skills so that they learn how to deal with life.

Though I am truly confident in his abilities to figure things out I am aggravated because I hate seeing that look on his face. I think he is trying to figure out crap that you can’t figure out.

People do stupid shit in middle school. Kids just act and say things without any thought or regard for consequences. I don’t believe he is going to find any logic but he is searching for it and it is hard to watch.

Five More Years

Five more years and he’ll be on his way to college. Five years ago college was so very far away and now…not so much.

I am proud of him, so very proud. I love that he is pushing me away and wants to do it all on his own. That means I did something right here but dammit, I hope he understands there is a time when asking dad to help is a sign of strength and not weakness.

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  1. bdorman264 May 19, 2014 at 10:14 am

    I feel ya; sometimes I think we protected/enabled our kids too much and they have never had to know what it’s like to face too hardship. They are great kids, but did we really do them any favors by not teaching them to be more self-sufficient. Also, there is a tendency to makes sure your kids had it ‘better’ than you did. 

    At least they aren’t on drugs and they are educated so the rest is up to them, right? 

    My bike riding has some scary parts and it’s always a good feeling when you conquer it and what used to be scary becomes routine; getting out of your comfort zone.

    • Jack May 19, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      I know some families who have tried to help their kids by not giving them anything even though they could. I always thought that was ridiculous, there is a middle ground.

      Teaching them how to step outside of their comfort zone seems to me to the right way to go about teaching them how to deal with situations they may encounter, course I may be biased.

  2. TheJackB May 18, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    Lardavbern  I am so very proud of him. Hard to step back sometimes, but so important.

  3. Lardavbern May 18, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Glad he had the courage to get on that zip line even though he was nervous.
    It’s tough letting go even when you think they can handle it. You want to be there for him – that’s what makes you a good dad.

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