Father's Day a great opportunity for conversation on alcohol
I remember celebrating Father’s Day with my own father quite clearly. This special day evolves as the relationships between fathers and sons do.
Early on, Father’s Days are still about kids. I remember my father spending his Father’s Day watching me play baseball. He’d set up his lawn chair, knock his pipe on the side a few times, fill it with tobacco and watch me play. It was 1960. I’m not sure this was what he wanted to do looking back on it, but it became the basis of a special bond we shared. As I got older our Father’s Day together changed, as well. We weren’t as mobile then as now, we didn’t jump on a plane if we were separated by hundreds of miles and keeping in touch had a different meaning, as well. We only called on Sundays after 5:00 p.m. when the rates went down. Sometimes we called collect. It was really a secret signal! My parents wouldn’t accept the charges, and then they’d call me back. It was cheaper, we’d stand by the phone waiting, sure that we were somehow outsmarting the phone company. You could only go as far as the cord, after all.
Times have changed and communications have also. When I was young we talked about school and baseball and planning our next vacation – in the car. We never talked about drinking, we never talked about making good decisions, and we never talked about the risky decisions I might make when I was older.
My own kids have heard about it all over and over again. I’m not suggesting I did a perfect job, and that they followed my advice to the letter. All kids, especially teens, think they have to find out for themselves. Human beings are just wired that way. But, on Father’s Day, we make every effort to celebrate the bond between us. We make every effort to talk about the challenges they’ll face, or already are, and how they’ll face them.
I think they get it right most of the time, and I take some pride – as my wife does – in the fact that our kids, now 22 and almost 20, are mature young adults ready to take on the world on their own terms. We’re not done, we’re going to keep at it. It’s a lifetime of conversations and whether it’s the first time or the hundredth time you’re talking about tough issues with your kids, Father’s Day is a great day to be a dad.
*Ralph Blackman, a father of two, is President and CEO of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility*