Annie Lane: Sons found their own path to success

Published 5:39 pm Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Dear Annie: For background, I played and lettered in a variety of sports during school and continued to play on adult soccer teams and flag football as an adult. My wife was also very athletic, and we fully expected our sons to follow in our footsteps. I do want to qualify that I did well in school academically, obtaining both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in STEM majors (science, technology, engineering and math). Later, I earned an MBA at night school. However, I identified as an athlete, and excelling in a variety of sports was how I felt my worth was defined.

I was only able to get my sons interested in sports because I agreed to coach their recreational soccer teams. At best, both were mediocre players, which to me was very embarrassing, and I did feel some level of resentment toward my sons for not trying to be better athletes and “living up to my expectations” for them. When both my sons entered high school, they chose to join the marching band and stopped playing any sports. Both excelled in their studies and were easily accepted by top-level colleges. My oldest son won an academic scholarship, and my youngest son attended a military college where his schooling was largely paid for. Both majored in STEM degrees.

Fast-forward several years. My oldest son is now a software engineer with one of the leading cloud computing companies and, at 6-foot-1-inch and 230 pounds, is a powerlifter who can easily bench press 400 pounds and squat with over 600 pounds. These are feats of strength that I never even dreamed of accomplishing. My youngest son, at 6 feet tall and 180 pounds, is now a pilot in the U.S. Air Force and easily scores 99 on the Air Force’s physical training test. Again, accomplishments I never dreamed of.

I have grown from being a disappointed and resentful dad to being a very proud father of two excellent young men. I now see that letting your children find their own path and encouraging them to develop their own interests will lead to some very pleasant surprises as I have watched them grow up into young men. 

— Proud Pop

Dear Proud Pop: Thank you for your insightful letter. Your honest look at your mistakes and how your children ended up becoming men you are so proud of is refreshing and inspiring. I’m reminded of the fable of the tortoise and the hare. The hare seemed like he was fast enough to always win the game of life, but it was the slow and steady approach that prevailed. Each of us is born with unique talents and abilities, and if we are allowed to pursue them, good things will follow.

“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology  — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation  — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.