“Be Good to Your Old Man”

Posted by Pat on June 16, 2013 in Uncategorized |

A dad is someone who

wants to catch you before you fall

but instead picks you up,

brushes you off,

and lets you try again.

A dad is someone who wants to keep you from making mistakes

but instead lets you find your own way,

even though his heart breaks

in silence when you get hurt.

A dad is someone who

holds you when you cry,

scolds you when you break the rules,

shines with pride when you succeed,

and has faith in you even when you fail…


Sometimes it is so difficult to be the kind of parent in the selection shared above.

  •  To let them grow,
  •  To let them try,
  •  To let them fail,
  •  To let them develop their self confidence.

And do we allow our parents to have grown, tried, failed, develop self confidence? Or do we blame them for how we’ve turned out?

And what about the skills of letting ourselves grow, try, fail, develop self confidence?

A speaker once addressed a high school assembly on the subject “Be Good to Your Old Man!” The students were expecting some trite Sunday school moralizing. Instead the talk turned out to be something entirely different, an insight that made a lifelong impression on some of those youthful listeners.

What the man said was, “Be careful what patterns you form today in thought and acthe man I used to bet, for it will have much to do with the person you will become in later years.”

The “old man” is the person who will evolve out of the person you now are. The child is the parent of the adult.


No matter what the past, we cannot change it. But we can take charge of our life today and control what all these things do to us in our present experience.

We need to forgive all those who we feel have hurt us, neglected us, or in any way frustrated our good. (including our parents!)

More, we must forgive ourselves, those little children who are the parents of who we have become today.

Forgive and let it go. We are the adults now.

We can open the way now for all things to work together for good, even if the “good” is the painful challenges that have forced us to grow. Growth is what life is about.

I’m reminded of the story of the two brothers with alcoholic parents. They were interviewed as adults and asked to what did they attribute their station in life.

The first man was an alcoholic, living on the streets who answered, “What do you expect, with parents like mine?”

The second was a successful businessman, active in his community, with a loving family. He answered, “What do you expect, with parents like mine?”

They had perceived their experiences differently, used them as an excuse or as a lesson and created their own lives as a result of that choice.

As Victor Frankl said so clearly in “Man’s Search for Meaning” after his experience in the concentration camps,

Everything  can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose  one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own  way.


The two brothers made their choices and the consequences followed.

And if we understand that today we too are making choices that will determine who we become tomorrow (that we are now the “parent” of our future self) then we know we are not victims of our circumstances.

consequences from choice

 So, how are you going to be “Good to Your Old Man?”

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  • Meg says:

    Pat, thanks so much for this post and for your message yesterday. Dads surely do show us many-faceted personalities. It can be trying to sort them all out. I’m still working on getting mine to be all that I expected him to be! All I can do is the change my perception of the Father I knew and recognize the perfect being he truly was.

  • Tish says:

    Thank you Pat for the post! It really says it all and one truly does have the ability and right to control how they deal with the past, present and future! Attitude rules!

  • Cecelia says:

    It is true, what we do with our parenting or lack of parenting is entirely up to us. We are at choice, always, and I choose freedom from my past.

  • Earl Blackaby says:

    Use a ruler and draw out a 9 inch line ( to represent a life ). Mark each inch along the line. The lst inch = lst 10 years of a life. The 2nd inch = the years 11-20 when decisions are made that influence the rest of the life. Realize that decisions are yours – no one else to blame. Set your path and stay on the path – don’t let others pull you off the path. Doesn’t matter who or what you are – make your own decisions – stay on the path – the rest of your life waits. As parents, make your home a comfortable nest, then encourage your young to fly. Earl B

    • Pat says:

      Earl, I remember Wayne Dyer, like you, saying that the last 2 inches on the ruler of our life are the critical ones. And yet they are created by the choices and decisions we made earlier! Yet I’m optimistic that the choices I make now, even if it is the last 2 inches, can enhance the rest of my experience here.

  • George Frick says:

    Right on target, Pat! It’s been a pleasure having you for a friend. I about finished ” Man’s Search for Meaning”. It gave me a little more appreciation for my life.


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