When people see me and my dad together for the first time, they always remark how similar we look, as if we could be brothers. What they don’t realize is that the similarity between us runs much deeper than our outward appearance.
I am dedicated to my work (some may call if workaholism) just like my dad. I can project a fun, personable personality in crowds but at my core I’m a closed introvert, just like my dad. I like to cook grand meals, just like my dad. I can be pretty lazy around the house, just like my dad. I strive to uphold myself to a higher ethical standard, especially in regards to using other people’s money, which I learned from my dad. I like to give gifts like my dad.
And for all of this I am grateful.
I remember seeing my dad cry for the first time, after his own dad had passed away. We were standing in my grandfather’s apartment, cleaning up his belongings, and my dad burst out into tears. I stepped over to give him a shoulder to cry on. He took it. And in that moment my dad’s stern manly in-control exterior melted away, revealing a tender, emotional heart that yearned to express itself… just like my own. Asian men aren’t supposed to cry. Yet here was my dad, the epitome of an Asian man, letting it all out.
At that moment, what I didn’t realize was that would be the first of many times I would see him cry — when we were at the airport as I left for the first time to Turkey, and the second time, and the third time… when I and then later that year my sister got married and officially left home. And in doing so, he told me it was okay to cry too.
Running for Dads
I’m writing about my dad because, as part of the Runatolia Marathon on March 6th, I’m running a half-marathon (21 km) to support AÇEV’s Father Support Program.
Father Support Program
AÇEV’s Father Support Program is not about teaching fathers to create images of themselves in their children. It is pushing fathers to be the best image they can be, because their children are going to mirror them regardless. Throughout this 12 week program, in groups of 15–20, low-income fathers gather for 2–3 hours a week, challenged by a facilitator to evaluate their behavior in the home, how they spend time with their children, how they set an example, while providing an opportunity to talk and share, forming a basis of best practices and accountability.
And the results are amazing. Families show decreased levels of domestic abuse, increased communication across all members, happier wives and even stronger academic performance from the children. I believe it because I can see how important fathers are to families, and to me.
I really believe fathers are the key to lasting societal change.
Change starts in the home, and fathers have been ignored for too long. Furthermore, one day, hopefully soon, I hope to be a father too. And I hope I can pass on a bit of all that my dad has passed onto me.
If you want to support fathers in Turkey, please make a donation using the following link. Every little bit counts. Thanks!