Father’s Day 2019: How Mom Taught Me To Be A Better Father
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My Father Abducted Me… A Parent’s Worst Nightmare
Imagine your only child… a son you adore with big brown eyes and the cutest curls who smiles all the time.
At just three years old, he has a wry smirk when he’s up to no good! He especially loves to tell stories about dinosaurs and will always curl up for a snuggle if you read him Winnie the Pooh.
Now imagine your worst nightmare — your son goes missing. What would you do?
This is what happened to my mom.
When I was three years old, I was abducted by my biological father…
That began a 49-month nightmare for my mom and catapulted me into the realm of a “missing child”, complete with a poster and all.
When this all happened, there were no laws about parental abduction and as far as the police were concerned, the child’s father had taken him and that was fine.
So, for the next four years and one month, I lived with my dad as he travelled to New York City, Kingston, Jamaica and then finally, St. Louis.
Until one night, everything changed…
The Night Everything Changed And I Reunited With My Mom
All I remember was watching TV with my father and his girlfriend, then a knock at the door before police stormed into the house. Next thing I knew, I was sitting in the front of a police cruiser on my way to a foster home.
I spent the next two nights in a foster home and then on the third day, I was brought to a courthouse. After playing with toys and not really understanding what was going on for most of the day, I was brought to a room and re-introduced to my mom…
A woman I vaguely recognized but didn’t know.
Within an hour, I had my first limo ride led by a police escort to the St. Louis Airport for the flight back to Toronto. That was June 24, 1987.
That was the start of the rest of my life.
The Love Of My Mom After My Father Abducted Me
When I reflect on what my mom did through her 49-month nightmare — and has done for me since then — I’m filled with gratitude! Her life has taught me so much about unconditional love, forgiveness, and perseverance.
What she achieved in the face of unbelievable circumstances is an example of amazing faith, strength, and determination.
Faith – she never gave up hope that I would be found, despite receiving no help from the police, government agencies or the many “officials” that she petitioned to support her case. Her commitment to prayer, fasting and trust in God carried her when she would otherwise be hopeless.
Strength – she committed to obeying the laws of the land, even though many authorities advised her to “go and steal your son back” once she discovered where we were living (which was in another country).
Determination – she meticulously detailed and documented every step of her process, petitions and pleas for help. Eventually, her determination earned her a relationship with two “angels” that helped her to change the laws in the state of Missouri, legally returning me to her rightful custody.
While there’s so much untold from that story, it’s the wisdom from her time raising me AFTER the abduction that I wish to share. She sacrificed so much after I came home that set a remarkable example of unconditional love.
The actions she took as a mom helped me to become the father I am today.
It’s my hope that you’ll find a way to apply these positive principles in your relationships.
When you do, I believe the outcomes will be life-giving.
Three Life-Giving Actions Fathers Can Use For Any Relationship
#1. IDENTIFY AND NURTURE STRENGTHS
My mom was a skilled analyst when it came to my thoughts, attitude and behaviour. My most important recollection though is how she identified my strengths and found ways to affirm them.
At every opportunity, she spoke positively into my life.
Yet, perhaps the most important way she spoke into my life and initiated important healing was through my father. She would often connect my strength to attributes he possessed. She would say, “Your dad was very skilled at X, I see where you get that talent from.”
That affirmation spoke directly to my identify. And the more I heard the strengths she saw in me, the more I began to believe it.
#2. MODEL AND TEACH GOOD PRINCIPLES
As a certified John Maxwell Team Coach, Trainer and Speaker, I’ve often heard Maxwell say, “The most basic leadership principle is that people do what people see.”
I’m also a product of that truth – especially when I look at the principles I admire in my mom.
While growing up, I never heard a negative comment about my father.
It sounds unbelievable, but that shows the strength of her conviction for modelling what she taught. Yes, we talked about the truth and reality of our experience, but never did I hear her speak negatively about him as a person.
As with me, she often focused her comments on his strengths or positive attributes.
And I don’t believe she could authentically model that example without choosing to forgive my dad.
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The most important principles that she believed I needed as her son, she chose to demonstrate first… character traits like forgiveness, integrity, honesty, character, strength, work ethic, discipline and so on.
Her example was critical for me. And now, I continue to pursue a life of service, love and excellence as a father, husband and professional because of her influence.
#3. ALWAYS BELIEVE IN OTHERS
No matter what mistakes I made, or how much I “kicked at the wall” (as she would say), her belief in me never wavered.
Looking back during times when my behaviour was challenging or I made poor decisions, my mom was always there to help me through. She held me accountable for my actions while at the same time supported me and believed that I was capable of correcting it.
Even more than that, she always fought for me to believe that I could create a different outcome than the past. The best way to describe her approach to this was… relentless.
She relentlessly encouraged and supported me through every situation, obstacle or barrier.
Hands down, she was my greatest advocate.
If there was one thing I always knew – it’s that she believed in me. And as I look back, this single decision has made all the difference in my life.
Fathers Can Nurture Their Children By Speaking Life To Them
My mom often said, “Children learn what they live.” So when I choose to do this with my children — to identify and nurture strengths, model and teach proper principles, and believe in them – there’s no telling who they can become…
Because they can be secure in knowing they have a father who models love and speaks life into them.
Which of these three actions is most important to your relationships? Please share or comment — I’d be honoured to hear your thoughts and feedback.
Drew is married with twin 6-year-old daughters and a 3-year-old son. He’s a Career Coach at the Queen’s Smith School of Business. Drew is also a certified John Maxwell Team Coach, Trainer and Speaker and the founder of Connected Dads. Get his free resource 5 Simple Ways To Connect With Your Family.
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