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How To Make The Dad Connection: Lesson 3

September 15, 2010

Your father, no matter what role he played in your past, is a critical component of redeeming your purpose. This is the third in a series of five lessons on Making the Dad Connection, learned from personal experience. (If this is your first visit, click here to read Lesson 1). Your thoughts and suggestions, gleaned from your personal experience, are welcome in the comments below.

My teenage years were not flattering. To say I was a jerk is too kind. My behavior often reflected that part of the human anatomy known as the anal sphincter. Only not so nice. You get the picture.

Bad decisions were commonplace. Like the purchase of a 1973 Chevy Vega GT Wagon, described in this article as “The Worst Car GM Ever Made” and “the quintessential pile-o-sh*t”. My Vega burned a quart of oil with every tank of gas and attracted rust like flies to… well, once again, you get the picture.

About six months after buying the Vega I made the worst decision of all: I freaked out on an LSD trip and jumped out of a moving car. Later that night I woke up restrained to a hospital bed. My right ankle was fractured, my left  shoulder blade was shattered, and my spirit was utterly broken. God used the experience to get me started on the long road to spiritual recovery. As I took my first tentative steps, He worked through Dad to help me rebuild the engine and the body of the Vega.

Dad loves to build and fix things. When I was a kid we strung a tire swing from the black walnut tree in our back yard and he built a platform to facilitate an exhilarating take-off. When I was in college he cut the tree down and had it milled for lumber to build furniture. A few years later he helped me design and build the walnut coffee table that graces my living room. We have worked together on numerous household projects since Tracy and I got married, including a headboard for our bed, wardrobes for our first apartment (it had no closets), and steps from our deck to the back yard.

Although I truly enjoy the finished products, I don’t share Dad’s passion for woodworking. I’d rather play guitar; he’d rather build one. But with each project we grew a little closer together, and I learned a lot about fixing things in the process. I called him on the phone the other day, having just finished installing an acoustic ceiling in my basement.

“I wish I could have been there to help you,” he said.

“Me too,” I replied. “But I sure am thankful for all the projects you did help me with.”

“We worked well together, didn’t we?”

“Yup, we sure did. Thanks Dad. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Lesson 3 in Making The Dad Connection: find areas of mutual interest and mutual benefit; then find time to make them happen.

Click here to read Lesson 4 in Making the Dad Connection.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Janny permalink
    September 15, 2010 6:02 pm

    I wish my 21 year old grandson had a Dad like you.

  2. Tim Backs permalink
    September 16, 2010 8:25 am

    Good stuff. It seems easier to DO things together with my son, than with my daughters. Nick and I can enjoy sports, or car repair, etc,. And I have no problem asking him to help on a home repair project, and typical projects I would do around the house. As for the girls, I truly don’t share their interests, and we don’t work on the same things. Maybe it’s just a societal constraint I’m putting on it, like not expecting girls to help on remodeling projects (I have some to do). I’m open to any ideas!


  3. Eric Dickens permalink
    September 16, 2010 9:51 am

    Nice article…for me I think it helped that I had a girl first. I ‘learned’ how to be a dad with her and had to figure out things we could do together that she enjoyed (and I could tolerate :). One of the best things we’ve done together was a date where we ‘graded’ 3 different pet stores in 10 different categories. She now knows exactly which pet store to recommend for certain categories and still talks about it a year or so later.

  4. September 19, 2010 10:25 pm

    My dad was a fix-it guy as well, and owned the other worst car, the Ford Pinto. He and I were just able to spend what I believe is the 3rd father-son trip we have done together, and had a great time shooting pictures of Michigan, meeting up with family and friends, and exploring the Henry Ford museum in Detroit. It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t pushed for it, but I think both of us would like to do it again. I hope to have more experiences like that with him, but maybe more importantly, to be able to do this with my kids.

    • September 20, 2010 7:39 am

      Yeah, the Pinto was infamous for exploding when rear-ended. The Vega had similar tendencies, but Chevy avoided a lot of negative publicity by settling claims out of court. Someone should conduct a poll for worst car ever: Pinto or Vega? or the Renault Le Car? 😉

      I’m glad to see the comments are taking this to the next level. The primary purpose of the series is to encourage people to reach out to their fathers. But dads can also take the lessons to heart as they bond with their own offspring.

  5. September 20, 2010 8:53 am

    Post-script: I visited my parents over Labor Day, and Dad turned over a number of his tools to me. Other tools he’ll sell to members of a local woodworking club; the remainder he’ll donate to Habitat For Humanity. At 82, he no longer has the balance and coordination needed to safely work in his shop. I’m glad that he’s learning PowerPoint and other computer programs to take the place of woodworking, but it’s very sad that he had to give up the creative outlet that played such a major role in his life. It would be like me giving up my guitars.

    Lesson 3.5 in Making the Dad Connection: make the most of the projects you share in the time you have with your Dad, and be sure to capture the moments.


  1. How To Make The Dad Connection: Lesson 2 « Richard M Potter on Purpose

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