CREDOS : Father to son — II

Tom Ehrich

Third: Love each child. Not all children are equally easy to love. But fathers must try. For the scar of being lesser in the eyes of one whose approval is everything cuts deep throughout life. A daughter still feels the pain of a father who was “angry, mean and hurtful” to her but not to her younger sisters. Fourth: Recognise what is important to the child. A daughter remembers coming home from a trip abroad, looking up at the gallery where greeters waited, and “there on the floor, scrunched amid many legs, was my kneeling father vying for the best spot in order to see me! Seeing him on the floor waiting for me made me feel so very loved.” Fifth: Live with integrity. A man’s power, wealth, political leanings and religious opinions mean little to children. They study Dad’s character. “My Dad was a dependable employee and a willing volunteer,” writes a grown-up child. “He never cheated anyone, always paid his bills on time and did not overspend. I will remember him for his integrity. He taught me honesty.” Sixth: Live freely. A woman writes that she and her husband grew up with emotionally distant fathers. “Neither of them ever, not once in our whole lives, told us they loved us, or hugged us or kissed us,” she says. She marvels at how her husband broke that cycle of aloofness and, before leaving for work, “quietly went in each of our children’s rooms and semi-woke them and kissed them and told them, ‘Goodbye, I love you, have a good day.’” —