by Ron Tatro, Vice President, Administration and Center for Elder Rights Advocacy
You recently appeared at the door to my office. You had a grin on your face which lit up the room. You shared the information that you and your wife were expecting your first child later this year. You asked what it was like to be a father. As Father’s Day approaches, I have been thinking about that question. After more than forty years as a father I am still not sure that I know the answer, but here are my thoughts.
1. There is a big difference between being a father and a dad. Fathers provide the material things in life, work hard, set standards and suffer in silence. Dads teach their children how to love, honor their elders, and learn to cherish life. Your goal is to be both a father and a dad.
2. Learn to value and appreciate every step on this wonderful journey. I still remember the first time I held our first son. There were so many questions. I was overwhelmed with sense of responsibility, wonderment, and dreams. Boy, was I afraid and wondered if I would be up to the challenges.
3. Child rearing is wonderful, challenging, and stressful. Be sure that you and your partner are on the same page. Children will try to divide and conquer. Remember all those reasons why you loved and decided to have a family with that person. The best gift a dad can give his children is to love their mother.
4. Values and role modeling is pretty well set by the age of six. Don’t be afraid to let them explore, play with things, build, and even paint the walls. It will be lessons that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
5. Teenagers require huge amounts of love and patience. We know that the human brain is not fully developed until around the age of 26. Teenagers support that premise every day. They are demanding, flighty, and confusing. But every once in a while, they will blow you away with a statement, an expression of love, or kind act. It is alleged that Mark Twain once made the statement that “When I was sixteen, my old man was the dumbest guy on earth. By the time I turned twenty I was surprised by how much he had learned in those four years”. The hardest part about raising teenagers is to know when to let go. You will know when.
6. As your children grow into adulthood you wish them the best and support them. If they become thoughtful, give back to their fellow man, and make a contribution to society in their own special way, then as parents you have done your jobs. It is not about their professions, money made, degrees earned. It is about how they live their lives and love those who are important to them.
Today I still end each conversation with our sons the same way as that first night of their lives with “I love you.” So, congratulations to you and your wife and welcome to the Fraternity of Fatherhood. It will change your life forever. Enjoy!
Ron Tatro is the Vice President at Elder Law of Michigan, and has been a member of the Elder Law team since January 2007.
Ron graduated with his Bachelor of Science, Human Services in 1978 from Trinity College.
Before joining the Elder Law of Michigan team, he had extensive experience in non-profit management, business management, and government management.
As Vice President at ELM, Ron provides support services and executive direction to all aspects of ELM’s programs. Since beginning at Elder Law of Michigan, Ron has served as the Director of Consumer Fraud Prevention Project, Director of Elder Abuse Prevention, and Associate Vice President