When my son was little, there were times when I did not know how to build our father-son relationship. Sometimes I did too much, and sometimes I did too little. When I tried too hard, I tended to expect a lot in return and ended up feeling burdened and disappointed. Yet when I did not try hard enough, I felt it was not befitting for my role. My son has special needs; communicating with him has always been challenging, and we got into quarrels easily.
After many years of trial and error, I came to realize that we could build our relationship and establish our family values through listening, dreaming and having adventures together. My son loves airplanes and photography. We spent countless hours shooting for airplanes near LAX. One time we spent 16 hours overnight there, just waiting for the historical moment to come – the return of the retired space shuttle to LAX. We have also spent four hours on the road and eight hours waiting to witness the implosion of an old hotel, seeing it come down after the countdown and exploding sounds. These shared adventures have become milestones in our lives and have created a special way for me and my son to relate and communicate with each other. When we chat, we still like to mention these memories. We have learned:
(son) In the first half of your life, what’s beautiful isn’t having dreams but having someone to dream with you.
(father) In the second half of your life, what’s beautiful isn’t gaining experience but having someone to share experiences and memories with.
A letter to my son:
When I say I am your father, I am not claiming to be blameless
Rather I am whispering, “I once was lost,” and, looking back, it’s you who have helped me learn how to be your father
When I say I am your father, that does not mean I am superior
Rather I admit that I could stumble, and both you and I are in much need of guidance from above
When I say I am your father, I am not showing off my strength
Rather I am aware of my weaknesses and pray for strength to move forward
When I say I am your father, I am not bragging about my success
Rather I understand my past failures and am grateful for your acceptance of who I am
When I say I am your father, I am not criticizing you
Because I am not entitled to do that
Rather I am aware how deeply you are loved
It’s such a joy to learn how to be your father, knowing that you are also learning how to be my son.
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