Take A Child Fishing

In honor of all the great dads out there

Published in the May 2011 Issue Published online: May 07, 2011 Ask The Expert Jan Clark
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In today's society, age of impatience, everything instantaneous with high anxiety and higher expectations-it's no wonder this decade is so competitive and in such a hurry to get ahead to be the best and the first. That is all good and well and we instill this in our children, our grandchildren, ourselves, in our careers and sports.

But sometimes enough is enough. What is wrong with down time, relaxing and not feeling guilt or pressure? We wonder why there is so much ADHD, or attention deficit, depression, stress, anxiety, bullying, shootings, road rage, gangs, divorce and suicides. There is only so much of daily stressful routines, activities and fulfilling others' expectations of yourself that one can take. You need to relax and give yourself permission to slow down and go fish!

Are we going too far and being too hard on our society forcing them to be better, smarter or more popular, rather than letting them be themselves? Too hard on ourselves to work harder, get that bigger bonus, be a martyr and not take vacation this year. Ya think?

When is the last time you went fishing and took a child along with you? How much room can an appreciative fishing buddy take up in your boat? Imagine it now, no cell phones, no texting, no IPods, no television, no outside interference and no distractions. Just the sounds of nature and the water lapping against the bow of the boat. There is no need to worry about communicating, but, eventually a conversation will immerse. All you need to do is listen and be available. Even if you do not have a boat, some of the best fishing is done off our dock.

There are so many things a child can learn from you-either good or bad whether you're patient or impatient, trustworthy or distrustful. Did you swear that last time that fish got away? Did you cheat on the legal length of that fish and throw it back or throw it in the cooler? Trust me, nothing gets past those young, impressionable future fishermen. Are you a critical or calm fisherman? Remember the purpose of the trip is to have fun and make it a positive and memorable event. Relax and go fish.

I use fishing as an analogy, spending time doing your favorite things together is priceless and can be a wonderful fond memory for you both. Let your child or grandchild know you are giving of your time, making them your priority for the day. Not only will they learn from you for your special time together, but YOU will also learn from them.

Our children are grown and we now have grandkids to learn from daily. Just remember, what goes around, comes around. If you don't have time for them when they're young, they won't give YOU the time of day later.

Last year for Christmas my husband Tom and I only wanted one thing from our kids-time. Everyone these days is so busy in the corporate world, shuttling kids, volunteering, struggling with the economy, trying to stay ahead, paying bills and essentially surviving.

It is amazing how there used to be 24 hours in a day. According to today's society there are only 20 hours. The world is literally moving so fast that no one has time to slow down, much less stop and go fish!

Time is something they do not sell at the mall, it doesn't cost anything, but has to be a priority and sometimes a sacrifice but it does make a great gift. A gift of LOVE, a time to give back.

You say, I have no one to take fishing, to make a wonderful memory with, to make a difference in a child's life. I have no one to share stories with, to bait their hook with, and to teach and someone to learn from as well. Just because you don't have a son, well remember girls like to spend time with their dads too.

My parents always planned on having two children, one girl and one boy. My sister was their first born, then TA-DA, me, another girl. OOPS, sorry! Well, to not disappoint I was the one who went camping with my dad, learned to drive the John Deere tractor, mowed the yard, built fences and tried not be a disappointment to my dad. He didn't care and he wasn't upset, but I still tried. My dad is a former boat owner, he had a 6-foot row boat. I saw him row around in circles on his small pond, but we never went fishing. But we still have fond memories of doing other things together. We have fond memories of how his boat was used to house snakes during those long hot summers when the little row boat was turned upside down. It was a real memorable day when he shot a hole in the boat and missed the snakes!

You may want to check into a Boys Club, Big Brother or Big Sister organizations in your area and see if they have a child you can "rent" for a day. Your church or local school may know of someone you can share a day with too.

In honor of Father's Day, be a hero not a zero and spend some time with your children, even if it has to be over the telephone, cell phone, Skype, card, email or letter. Let them know how important they are to you. Better yet, grab a minnow, make a memory and go fish!

One of the best things you can do to support the self-esteem of another person is to really let that person know that when he or she is speaking, you are available and listening.

Happy Fathers Day

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