“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” Mark Twain
I love that quote because it sounds like me when I was young. I don’t remember any specific times when I thought my dad was ignorant, but I do recall thinking that he had no way of understanding me or what I was going through in my teen years. He was a good dad, but I remember thinking that he didn’t have a clue. How could he understand that I wanted to be with my friends more than anything else? How could he even begin to recognize just how important it was for me to get behind the wheel of the family car when I got my first drivers license? And that thing about liking girls; how could he know what I was going through?
I’m still fortunate enough to have my father around. He’s 84 now, but I’m amazed at how much he really does know about lots of things. I started learning that fact when I went out on my own and began to make my way in the world at the age of 19. I remember one particular time when I was having car problems and I called home. I explained what the situation was, and he immediately asked if I had checked a certain part on the car. To my amazement he was right. It was a simple adjustment and it saved me hours of frustration and repair costs that I couldn’t afford. More problems and more phone calls later, and I realized that my dad had knowledge I hadn’t even dreamed of. It was a real wake-up call!
Advice About Fathers
If I had the opportunity to hand out advice about fathers to someone in their teen years it would be this: They understand more than you may think they do. They may not be up on all the new fads, phrases, and styles, but they were your age once.
If you are fortunate enough to have a good dad, do your level best to open a decent line of communication with him if you can. They don’t have all the answers, but chances are pretty good that they have some of them. If you’re willing to ask them about what they know, they may be able to help you find solutions to some of the tough problems that you deal with everyday—or at least give you a different perspective. Who knows, you may even discover that your father is even cooler than you ever thought possible.
By Michael Temple. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.