How to Be a Great Father

How to Be a Great Father
by Andrés McAlister

As the father of two sons, I have had a fantastic experience. Each one, in his own way, has given me the most wonderful experiences. I believe that thanks to their presence in my life, I have been blessed and have learned the most out of life.

Each son has had a different experience in and of their own. One son was very fiery and has learned to work through that in his life. He is still very fired up yet now channels that fire in a very productive way, whether in his work or telling me what I need to do with my life. How things change or reverse themselves. The way I used to speak to him he now speaks to me, at his very young and wise age of 27.

My younger son, now 24, is reserved, determined and strong. He too now tells me what to do. They are both extremely caring individuals and exciting to watch in sports as well as in social situations. How they can communicate with everyone in their lives is unbelievable. They also adapt to different cultures as they travel often to Uruguay and other places and have lived all their lives in the Washington, DC area. They were both captains of their sports teams, natural leaders inside and outside the field.

Both sons are very physical, one more outspoken and the other one can be reserved but when he speaks out he is very fiery.

Different stages in their lives were marked by different experiences. My divorce to their mother, moving from one school to another, applying to schools or making the teams in the case of sports are all examples of how well they adapt.

As a father, I have had to step in sometimes and go through their highs and lows. Knowing when to step in and when to let them have their own experience is a balancing act. The more a father lets go and lets sons live their own experience the better it is for all involved. Having their own experience gives them self confidence and when one is not around, they have that experience to fall back on.

Learning what children really want is a major letting-go exercise for fathers. Giving them space and exposure to as many of the good things in life builds their taste and knowledge of themselves and what they really want. Actually, the more we are out of their way, with a long distant watchful eye, is the best approach.

Listening to our children is always a good idea and not one we always practice. They are full of ideas that are renewing and sometimes those ideas go against what our beliefs are. There is always room for learning from each other if we listen and communicate.

Spending time with my sons was always a rewarding experience. Sometimes on a trip or walking through nature we would have the greatest and toughest discussions, always coming away with renewed understanding of each other’s issues. Always refreshing and stepping one step above where we were before the trip or the half-day walk near or in nature.

A final couple of thoughts (for my children): I still remember when we were going to a game and we would sing at the top of our lungs to the music of great musician Ruben Rada to get you guys fired up. What a moment. I also want to acknowledge your unique sense of humor at the most unexpected times.

Andres and Felipe I love you. Thanks for all the experiences to this day and I can't wait for the ones to come.

You are my legacy.