Some of my most treasured memories growing up are from working with my dad.
Though my dad was well-educated and hardworking, he had to work a lot of low-paying jobs to make ends meet. When I was old enough, I went to help him with his handyman gig on the weekends. We would load up his Ford pickup camper shell with the tools we would need for the day’s work, eat a quick breakfast and head out early in the morning. At first, I would just go fetch tools, hold the other end of a piece of wood while he cut it, and watch. Over time, though, this weekend routine became a rite of passage.
One particular morning, we were given the assignment of installing trim on a carpeted staircase. It wasn’t too technical – someone had to measure quarter-round dowels, cut them to size, stain them, and nail them down neatly on a residential staircase. I was ready to take my regular roles of “lumber-holder” and “tool fetcher”, but instead, my dad gave the project entirely to me. He told me, “I know you can handle it!” and walked off to work on another house project, leaving me to my tools and fledgling abilities. The feeling was scary, exhilarating, and liberating all at once. I was in control of my first home repair project! It went well, and when it came time for the homeowner to pay us, my dad collected the check and headed straight for the bank and then to lunch. I’ll never forget the interaction that followed. He handed me $40, which was a lot for a 10 year old in 1995. As he gave it to me, he said, “You work like a grown man now, son. Feel free to eat like one, too!” With that, we headed to lunch. He bought. It wasn’t particularly philosophical or profound, but the experience has stuck with me. It symbolized my father passing on the keys to manhood and stands out in my mind as the day I grew into a man. My dad saw me as able to set out to do something, accomplish a task, and be rewarded for it. That meant the world to me!
As a father, I am constantly looking for ways to empower the little ones that have been entrusted to my care. They are still young, but I know a similar day will come for me and them, and I want to be ready for it. Our children, particularly our sons, need to know what we see in them. They need to be called out of childhood and welcomed into manhood. It’s our duty to help them work like men, earn a living as men, talk like men, treat others men, and yes, to even eat like a man! What a privilege!
What are you doing to help the boys in your life to become men?
Chris was moved to start dadblogging after realizing firsthand how difficult parenting can be. He found limited resources for fathers, and quickly found out there is no "How to" manual for parenting! He hopes the community approach of Encouraging Dads will be helpful to all the other dads (and moms) out there who want to make a positive difference in their children's lives. In addition to this site, he has written two illustrated children's books and has been published in multiple magazines, blogs, and parenting research articles.