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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Retirement? What Retirement! I'm reading a book on fatherhood and one of the anecdotes has to do with a 29-year-old son asking his 64-year-old father for a loan. The father, who is just about to retire, is stunned, but lends him the money (the son is unemployed). I'm 55 and my older son is 14. My wife and I have saved for his college tuition and I have a pretty good start towards retirement. In the back of my mind, I'm assuming of course he'll get a good job after college and won't need any money from me. I cannot imagine being asked by a 29-year son for money. But it could happen and if my son was really in need I would give him the money without hesitation. To be a parent is to progress through a long arc of hope, expectation, fulfillment and disappointment. When your kids are very young, their potential seems endless. When they get into middle school, society's sorting-out process begins. Some of the kids make it into advanced Algebra, some don't. As middle-class parents, we plan on our kids attending a good college and then getting professional jobs, but they may not all achieve those goals. We want our kids to be successful. Sometimes we have to let go, other times, we need to lend a hand. One of the discoveries I've made as a father of a teen is that my son needs my involvement more than ever (although he rarely articulates this). In an interview conducted on CNN on Father's Day on 1999 (the interview is on the CNN website), several years ago, Psychologist William Pollack ("Real Boys") noted how adolescent boys benefit from close association with their father. According to the report,
Pollack's research indicates that one of the best things we could give our boys is "an extra dose of dad." In one 11-year study of boys -- starting at ages 7 to 11 and running through 18 to 22 -- "the more shared activities a boy had with his father," Pollack reports, "the more education he completed; and the closer the emotional bond between father and son, the lower was the incidence of social delinquency. background-clip:Indeed, this study showed that fathers had more of an effect on their teen-age sons in their academic and social functioning than mothers did."

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