Monday, October 08, 2007

Learning, Teaching

Dads teach daughters to do the right thing.

Years ago while playing pool with a few friends, Doug missed a winning shot and in a fit of rage, thrust the cue stick into the wall of a church youth center. His father, the church pastor, became angry at his son’s actions but rather than demonstrate it, calmly helped Doug patch the wall. He turned it into a learning experience about taking responsibility for your actions and facing consequences.

A number of years later Doug was driving too fast on an icy road, slid into a yard and destroyed a beautiful wrought iron fence. His mishap caused over $3,000 in damages. Remembering his father’s lesson, he went to the homeowner, explained what happened and paid for the repair of the fence.

As fate would have it, Katherine, his teen-aged daughter, late for band practice and in a big hurry, backed her car into a neighbor’s fence one afternoon and knocked a section of it to the ground. Doug was intent on making sure he, just as his father had, turned the accident into an opportunity for his daughter to learn from her mistake. Taking the same disciplinary approach he had once benefited from, he required Katherine to work with him to mend the fence.

Together they went to a hardware store and he showed her how to select wood fencing. In the late afternoon sunlight they set fence posts in concrete, and, suffering through the Texas summer heat, nailed fence pickets into place for over three hours. At first Katherine voiced her annoyance about having to do the work themselves, but with her dad’s coaxing, eventually began to understand why they did. She worked alongside him, laboring nearly as hard as he did, until the job was finished and the neighbor was satisfied with the result.

As they got into their car to drive home, she took one last look at the fence. Rather than hate the sight of it, the cause of the blisters on her hands and sunburn on her neck, she felt proud of what they had done.

When they had put the tools away and washed the sweat and grime from their hands and faces, dad and daughter sat down to eat dinner. As they ate, he praised Katherine’s hard work and, to her relief, didn’t impose any other punishment. He simply reminded her to drive carefully.

“You’re a good teacher, Dad,” she said with a smile as she reached across the table to sneak a bite of his dessert.

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