Dad and affection. Recently, I attended my daughter's high school graduation ceremony. What a glorious milestone in her life and the lives of all graduates. This article is not intended to extend profundity to the throng of graduates. My focus is on dads. At the graduation, an administrator requested that applause be held until all graduates were recognized. Fair enough. Nonetheless, one graduate, a young man, was dually recognized by his dad's unmistakable voice singing out "I love you." The audience chuckled. Later, when I reached the father at the reception that followed, he smiled and beamed a light that poke of the depth of love he feels for his son. He commented that other men decided to forsake the opportunity to express their rich and deep sentiment of a son's accomplishment.
Now, I'm not for a moment implying that my friend's love for his son exceeds other men's love for their sons (daughters too). He reminded me of an experience of my own with my son. While my son played sparingly on his basketball team years ago, he rarely got off a shot. One game, he came in with seconds to go and he shot and made a three-pointer. I leaped up from my bleacher seat to high-five other parents in attendance. I ran up and down the bleacher seats. Yes, it was only a basketball game however, a part of life. I was so deeply touched by his moment even ever so brief.
Whether a public display or privately reserved demonstration of love, we fathers have a responsibility to our sons. They need to know that we love them. We may or may not be driven crazy by their antics, behavior or misbehaviors. We may struggle seeking time to attend their out-of-home activity. We are all well-acquainted/aware of the depth of love and what messages mothers send their children. Dads ... we, too, have a strong and powerful message to send our sons (daughters too).
This generation of men has sprouted a creative show of affection. We learned it from sports heroes. We place a hand on the other's shoulder and do a chest bump or we high-five. Pardon me for waxing tangential. Two stories: One, I am reminded of a man who told me about this trip to Italy. While he was cruising around and touring, he took notice of an older gentleman who greeted his male friend. They shook hands and only released the handshake following a fairly lengthy conversation. An older gentleman I met briefly told me that he was depressed. his son, who reached adolescence, stopped his nightly bedtime ritual of "I love you dad" and a kiss. The dad was devastated.
I have a request to dads. Try holding your son (no matter his age) in a full embrace of love. Yes, high-five his accomplishments on the athletic field or classroom. Each day, let your son know how deeply his life affects you. Be open to express emotion - not just anger, irritation and frustration. Let your son take notice of your softside. Help your son learn the value and benefit of the softside. Perhaps, it may help melt away unnecessary and unhealthy prejudicial beliefs held about male affection. Our message collectively to our sons reaches greater height than a harsh tone.
On a higher scale, we therefore, search a spiritual message of growth, harmony and perhaps a greater peace on the planet. God knows we need it desperately. Best of health. This article is dedicated to you, Mark, a voice of affection to his son.
Marshal Greenstein holds a master's degree in marriage and family counseling and is a licensed marriage and family counselor and a licensed mental health counselor in New York state. He has regular office hours at Hutton and Greenstein Counseling Services, 501 E. Third St., Suite 2B, Jamestown, 484-7756. For more information or to suggest topics, email firstname.lastname@example.org.