Everyone knows dads come in all shapes and sizes . . . but they also come in assorted forms. Lots of children are fortunate enough to have a man—who isn’t their biological father—step into that role. They may either supplement what Dad is doing or, perhaps, fill in the gap where Dad is literally missing. That man might be an uncle, brother or grandfather, or he might be completely unrelated to the child.
I know such a man. Don is a Big Brother to Logan. His father is completely absent from Logan’s life, so Don—along with other key male figures—has the opportunity to significantly leave an impact.
Recently, Don told me about an outing he had with Logan. The two of them headed for a pond with their fishing poles. When they got there, Don prepped Logan by saying: “Today, you’re going to become a fisherman.” Pointing to the bait, he said: “Which one do you think would work best?” Logan chose. Then with some basic instruction, Don coached him on how to bait the hook.
Don explained to me that it wasn’t their first time fishing together, “but it was fishing at a whole new level. I let him fish. I gave up control. My former pattern would have been, ‘No, do it this way.’ That avenue would only rattle Logan’s confidence and reinforce any fear of failure he might have. So I got out of the way and let him have his own experience.”
Logan’s attempts were clumsy at first. “But that didn’t matter,” Don said. “We grownups need to remember the first time we baited a hook . . . it just wasn’t very pretty.”
Within two minutes, Logan caught a fish. The first words out of his mouth were, “I feel really good about myself!”
“I felt happiness for Logan,” Don said, beaming. “I’m positive the reason he felt good about himself was because he mastered something on his own.”
What made that afternoon so special was the fact that Logan challenged himself to try something new. And Don facilitated it by being patient and by having faith in Logan.
“I’m learning that there’s a difference between doing something with someone and doing something for them,” Don said.
“That’s how confidence is built.”
So true. After catching the fish, Logan asked: “Can I take the fish off the hook?” Ahhh, confidence in action.
“Logan’s success brought joy to both of us as well as a sense of connection and achievement,” Don said. “You know . . . I feel really good about myself, too.”
Hmmm. Looks like making a significant impact runs both ways.
For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters, see http://www.bbbs.org/