Recently I stumbled upon a documentary (How to Make a Man) that made me look at my father in a new light. It was an introduction to a mentoring project, which addressed today’s need for male mentors. Featured were famous celebrities, sports figures, entertainers and ordinary men, as well as prisoners who did or did not have father figures in their lives.
Now, as adults, some with families of their own, they shared their perspectives about the adult male (figure) presence in their lives and how it affected them. They also discussed what factors they thought were important in raising a young man today.
While listening and watching the film, I would think, “Yeah, my Dad did that… And he did that, and that…”
By the end of the show, when the list was complete, I remember thinking that I’d been raised by an incredible man. Everything the characters were saying in the film were things that my own Dad discussed with me in my early years. I grew up with a treasure without even knowing it!
My father worked 2-3 jobs for as far back as I can remember. He also coached my brother’s teams for football, softball, tee-ball, baseball, track, etc. We, as kids, simply assumed that was normal and don’t recall him complaining about anything, even though his time must have been so precious.
My Dad was a strict taskmaster to us “kids” as well as to himself. He and mom kept us organized and busy, ensuring we did our homework as well our chores while they worked to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. They were a great team: keeping track of our grades and making sure we stayed out of trouble… (On the rare occasion we did get into trouble, they made sure both sides were heard and a fair punishment determined.)
They’d let us know the consequences of misbehaving, guiding us with discipline until we developed our own. Little did we know those small disciplinary actions were to prevent us from going down paths that would cause greater pain later in life. I must admit it was difficult to get away with much because they were so involved in our lives.
Was he a perfect Dad? There is no such creature, but he was a committed one.
The rules were simple: It was his house, and we were all part of the same team. We had to respect the house and one another. With a firm hand he raised, protected and guided us… even through our crazy teenage years!
Now, as an adult, I realize the enormity of his commitment to his family and community, and I marvel at how he balanced everything. He did it without an initiative or a motto or a program. It’s no wonder all of his kids “made it” as successful adults. Through all those years he was actually training us for the real world of work.
As Father’s Day approaches, I look back and appreciate his sacrifice and love. I can proudly say my father’s love and guidance were invaluable! Happy Father’s Day to all the father figures out there who influenced us even more than we knew.
JoAnn Kawamoto is a Workforce Solutions Regional Facilitator for the Houston – Galveston area, conducting job skills seminars throughout the 13 county Gulf Coast region. She applies her B.Ed. and over 15 years of Workforce Development, Allied Healthcare, and Contract Management to connect potential employees with employers.