In keeping with my theme of spotlighting the actual roles and true depictions of dads across the country and around the world, I’d like to bring attention to this article from Robert Bowling, posted earlier this week (8/18/10) on the inspirational website playgrounddad.com. According to the introduction, Robert Bowling is the Creative Strategist at Infinity Ward, a corporate developer of video games, and the father of a one-year-old little girl. While I have never met Mr. Bowling, his writing suggests he is just the kind of father (and son) we see depicted so little in the popular media today. Having opened his story with a short paragraph on how much pleasure reflecting on the influence of his father in his life brought, Bowling describes his father this way:
Going through the list of life lessons he taught by example:
from this work ethic — I can count on one hand the amount of sick days [his father] took in the 18 years we lived together — to the value of money, savings and mentality that nothing worth having comes easy.
Many of us who grew up in close father-child relationships can say that we have benefited from the practical role models our fathers provided, but Bowling takes his loving tribute to his father one step further when he writes:
While I do appreciate all of those lessons, more so today that I ever did growing up, they’re not what I believe is the defining lesson of my father’s parenting. What I truly appreciate the most is far more subtle, for more universal, and something all of us can offer our children: the never-ending support of ever-changing dreams.
For Bowling, the dreams he had growing up were not always easy to explain, and his father didn’t always understand his passions or the rate at which they changed from week to week. Nonetheless, Bowling says, his father always supported him and gave him “the freedom to sprint, to trip, and most importantly to take the fall for my ideas.” That freedom, and “the ability for great failure” he says, is “essential to every great success” he has had. Bowling recalls wanting to be an author when he was just 8 years old, and striving to start a record label at 13. No matter what he wanted to do or be, his father was always by his side, helping him with practical issues like opening a checking account and applying for a business license for his latest endeavor. Later in his life Bowling entered and left the military, started a magazine, managed bands, started working in video games, and moved across the country. At every turn, he says, his father was there. Bowling’s family did not have a lot of financial resources or expertise in the areas he was exploring, but his father believed in him and in what he could do. He must have been a truly inspirational man in the lives of his entire family. One of the tags at the end of this inspiring post is listed as “advice for new dads.” In fact, this singularly wonderful post appears to be part of a series from appreciative adult children of loving fathers–from Maddie Preble, a recent graduate in Early Childhood Education from The College of Charleston in Charleston, SCto Brian Ambrozy, the Editor-in Chief of geek community site Icrontic.com. Each of these posts is, according to the introduction to the first one, designed to “provide tips for current and expectant dads from the ‘end product’ perspective.” (See the entire set here.) While fatherhood tends to be the kind of endeavor most people can only really learn about through experience, these tiny tidbits of life do provide us with a lesson in the things that really matter in the lives of people everywhere. They show the everyday experiences that stick with us all our lives, and the real value that fathers can bring to the lives of their children.