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Richard Beaty

Richard Beaty. Richard is the father of three who directs TEAM DAD, a Responsible Fatherhood program of Douglas-Cherokee Economic Authority.
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Off to College: An Open Letter to My Son

Son,

Today is the DAY.  The day you have looked forward to ever since you first heard the word and the day that your mom and I have eyed with apprehension. The DAY that you go off to COLLEGE!

Did you know that according to Wikipedia in ancient Rome a collegium was a club or society, a group of people living together under a common set of rules? I point that out for two reasons. 

First, because it implies that college is more than a place of higher education…it is a place of shared experience with its own set of rules and behaviors. Secondly, that you should never, ever use Wikipedia as a source for anything over the next four years.

chalkboard

With the wistfulness of a man who thinks this day has arrived way too soon, I would like to give you words of wisdom that will see you through the experience. But this day not only marks another significant step in your life, it is significant for me as well. While you become a bona fide college student, I become officially middle-aged.

So, I don’t have words of wisdom as much as I have things that stick in my craw...pet-peeves if you will. You have heard these from time to time your whole life, but I think each could apply to you and the college experience:

  1. Give it 110% - this cliché that is usually spouted by athletes when talking about their level of effort is impossible to reach. While many things can exceed 100% (the national debt is a good example), effort is not one of them. A person can only give all..not all plus 10%.I don’t have to really explain that to you, since you are a Math Major, but I do want to remind you not to put too much pressure on yourself. You are about to be challenged academically in a way beyond anything you have experienced. That is a good thing. Don’t get discouraged if you struggle at first. You will eventually get it. I have complete faith in your ability. Also, don’t over-extend yourself. There will be many things competing for your time and attention. Remember that you can only give 100% of your effort. So learn to say “no” and choose wisely how you spend your time.
  2. You can’t miss it – people often end a dissertation on directions with this phrase which is senseless, because you obviously CAN miss it, which is part of why you need directions in the first place. A college campus is a great place to experience brand new things beyond the classroom. So don’t miss out on those opportunities. Go to an opera. Sign up for intramural water polo. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Eat some sushi. Look for ways (legal, sane ways that is) to expand your world and experience new things. Otherwise you might miss it.
  3. No-Brainer – this is a phrase folks add when talking about something they think is so obvious it requires no thought. I say, “who are they to tell us what we should consider?” You are about to be bombarded with many who might tempt you to disengage your brain and go with the flow. The values and morals you were raised with will be challenged in many subtle ways. You will have to make decisions on your own about a whole range of things. We trust that you will make wise ones. Ones that reflect who you are as a person. Don’t let anyone tell you not to think or what to think. Use your brain and decide for yourself. 

So, there you have it. Three pet-peeves from your middle-aged dad that you may or may not claim as your own. You are welcome to borrow them if you can use them…kinda like that electric razor we share. (which by the way I couldn’t find this morning…is that by chance packed with the rest of your stuff?)

Love,

Dad

image: iStockPhoto 

An Open Letter From a Dad to His Son on His 18th Birthday

Dear Son,

Today you become a man.

At least you are the legal age of maturity according to our society. But becoming a man is more than reaching a milestone. It’s a process that began on that day eighteen years ago when you took your first breath and will continue until that time in the future when you take your last. 

18 candles birthday cake

Being a man is not about accomplishments, athletic prowess, mechanical ability or financial assets. Being a man is more about character, compassion and courage. A man has character when he is a person of integrity who can be depended on. A man has compassion when he not only cares for others, but demonstrates it by putting their best interests ahead of his own. A man has courage when he does what is right even what it's difficult. I believe you are a long way along this journey to becoming a man. You have learned so much already. You show so much promise. 

Here are some other truths that I have learned in my own journey to manhood:

Remember who you are. Decide your values and what is important to you and live them out. Don’t be afraid to be an individual.

Listen more than you speak. You will learn more by paying attention to what others have to say, and people appreciate being heard.

Be selfless. Let someone else have the nice chair, closer parking space or last slice. Look for simple ways to help others.

Keep your promises. Doing what you say you will do is a rare thing in our world today. It is one of the easiest ways to stand apart.

Be confident but stay humble. You can accomplish anything you put your mind to, so don’t doubt your abilities. On the other hand don’t think too highly of yourself.

There is no substitute for hard work. The process of working toward a goal is often as rewarding as the achievement itself.

Intelligence and wisdom are not the same. Intelligence is the ability to learn. Wisdom is using knowledge and experience to make good choices. You can be both.

Never stop learning. There’s a whole world to be explored beyond the classroom long after graduation.

Embrace “IT”. Whatever life throws at you, embrace. Change, obstacles, accomplishments, difficulties, adventures, success, failure are all opportunities to grow. Enjoy the moment. 

Love outrageously! Be a man who is known by his affections and his actions. Value your family and forge friendships that last.

These eighteen years you have been alive also happen to coincide with the best eighteen years of my life. That’s no coincidence. Your coming into this world has profoundly changed mine. No words can adequately describe my love, my pride and my hope for you. I am blessed to call you my son. And today I am also pleased to call you a man.  

Your father and friend.

What's one thing you want your teen to know upon turning 18 years old?



This post is from Richard Beaty. Richard is the father of three who directs TEAM DAD, a Responsible Fatherhood program of Douglas-Cherokee Economic Authority. Find Richard atwww.team-dad.org or on Twitter @TeamDad1. Interested in blogging for us? Read our guest blog guidelines.  

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