Great men in our lives aren’t always fathers

Published 5:14 pm Saturday, June 20, 2015

QUESTION: It’s the month for being thankful for fathers, but what if my children don’t have a good relationship with their father?

ANSWER: It’s true; unfortunately, not everyone has a warm relationship with his or her father. Still, June can be a great time to affirm the “older men” in our families that have been supportive and nurturing: grandfathers, uncles, older brothers or older cousins. A “you’re special to me” card or email describing specific memories will always be received with pleasure. Even if we’ve been blessed with a great relationship with our father, there may be another older man in our life that would be deeply touched to be remembered with some special words of appreciation.

My brother is eight years older than I am and he has always had a special place in my heart. My warm memories are many, but a special one is the early, early morning before I was going to go to be taken to the hospital to have my tonsils out. I was 6 years old and scared. My 14-year-old brother crawled into bed with me and read Winnie the Pooh stories out loud to comfort and distract me. He’s provided that same kind of caring comfort in times of stress and uncertainty many, many times in my life.

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A favorite family “big brother” story is about my 5-year-old granddaughter and 7-year-old grandson. The 7-year-old was engaged in building a city out of blocks. The 5-year-old had her book about Cinderella, had her collection of princess dolls, had the Cinderella DVD playing and had spent time dressing up like a princess. Then she stood in the middle of the room and wailed, “But I need a prince!” Her older brother sighed, stopped building his city, got off his knees and walked over to her, took both her hands, danced a few steps with her, gave her a twirl and then a kiss. She smiled and he returned to building his city of blocks. I have no doubt she will always love her big brother. I hope she tells him so when she is all grown up.

 If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in child raising, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out and free resources at the Parenting Resource Center Specialty Library (105 First Street S.E., Austin)