Wit & Wisdom

Game Changers & Tales of Triumph and Woe

Letting Go in Fatherhood

CJ Westerberg, June 14, 2013 6:21 PM


"The experience also gave me a perspective
that I took into the classroom
when no one else would accept
some of the children into their spaces."
                                     - middle school teacher and future father, Jose Vilson

Where Letting Go Is The First Step
Towards Newfound Fatherhood

by Jose Vilson

I called my father this morning, a rather unusual thing for me since our relationship doesn't necessitate the usual banter and warmth that sitcoms project upon those of us who rarely see our fathers.

When I grew up, I revered my father, a man whose voice and charisma reassured his young son that he'd always be there even if he wasn't there physically.  Soon, I came to find out that he made similar promises to my brother who was 5 years my senior, my sister who was 6 months my senior, my brother who was 2 years my junior, my sister who was 4-5 years my junior, and a few others now scattered throughout NYC and Miami. I was fraught with confusion during my early childhood, but soon it grew into adolescent rage and virulent insecurity in my own person. My semi-annual phone calls or visits from him ranged from boring drop-offs to a new apartment with a new woman to promises often left unkept with an eventual empty-handed return home.

My mom did everything she possibly could to assure that I was on the right trajectory, but not without a few glitches. She couldn't protect me from the mental scars my stepfather forged into my mind repeatedly. She couldn't project that I actually had to learn social graces with the opposite sex, something my father did effortlessly. Not having my father there for me was only exacerbated by the fact that he had eight other children who may have felt the same way in varying degrees.

Yet, it's because of those siblings that I found a way to let go of the pain left from that childhood. I can no more hang onto those memories than I can fault God for not keeping my parents under the same roof.  It's because of that struggle that I am the man I am today.  It was almost like this higher spirit has been asking me to live and love passionately, and the first piece of that was letting go.  I'm still learning, and the demons yell inside me more often than I would like, but I'm in a much better place than I was during my youth.

A big part of that was learning how to love myself, even as I look at the image of my father every time I look in the mirror.

The experience also gave me a perspective that I took into the classroom when no one else would accept some of the children into their spaces. They too gave me a perspective as to how to be a good father. As I've matured, I also had the opportunity to meet tons of positive men, and in their self-assurance, are also great fathers.  They've all come from different walks of life, but they're the best fathers they can be for their children. That's what counts.

Now that I'm a future father, forgiveness and love are my primary objectives.  I too forgive my father, even if he didn't particularly ask to be forgiven. When I told him that he was going to be a grandfather again because of me, he nonchalantly said he was happy for me, and smiled in a way I felt over the phone.

Now that it's going to be my turn, I know the best way for me to be there for him / her is to be the best me.

Jose, who wishes all the fathers . . .  a Happy Father's Day!


Orig. posted on The Jose Vilson  2011

Jose Luis Vilson is a math teacher, coach, and data analyst for a middle school in the Inwood / Washington Heights neighborhood of New York, NY.  He has been featured in American Latino TV, CNN, Black Web 2.0, Electronic Village, and Common Cents / Penny Harvest.


blog comments powered by Disqus
It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
Leonardo da Vinci
Follow The Daily Riff on Follow TDR on Twitter

find us on facebook


Cool Smart Teen: Changing the conversation about building stuff

SMW, 11.04.2013

Not just building an app to play with . . . but a test for cancer

Read Post | Comments

Riffing good stories

Stanford.design-thinking. innovation.jpg

Video: What is the link between "design-thinking" and creativity?

SMW, 11.03.2013

Creative Confidence: Must-Watch Interview on Charlie Rose

Read Post | Comments
early education.preschool.jpg

How Much Do Early Years Lead to Student Success?

CJ Westerberg, 11.03.2013

"The idea being that wasn't necessarily to create little engineers everywhere, though that would be great for us. The idea was to take advantage of the natural learning process and curiosity that children have at that age . . ." Tamika Lang, Boeing

Read Post | Comments

NEW: Weekend Reading

SMW, 11.03.2013

Looking for Intimacy in the Age of Facebook is a higher education course (yes, you heard right). Interestingly, social media may inhibit creativity and innovation

Read Post | Comments

The New Resume

SMW, 10.31.2013

A picture is worth a thousand words. A video game-like format is worth . . .

Read Post | Comments

Noam Chomsky: The Purpose of Education

CJ Westerberg, 10.31.2013

"Education is really aimed at helping students get to the point where they can learn on their own. . . "

Read Post | Comments

Noam Chomsky: In the news again, this time about Twitter and High Schoolers

SMW, 10.31.2013

Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus at MIT, "father of linguistics", political commentator.  From bio: "Besides his work in linguistics, Chomsky is internationally recognized as one of the most critically engaged public intellectuals alive today":               ...

Read Post | Comments

Choke: Test-taking - - - a different way to look at test-prep?

CJ Westerberg, 10.28.2013

"Most students will not find a steady diet of test-prep drills and worksheets to be particularly meaningful, and accordingly, they will not put forth optimal learning effort."

Read Post | Comments

Does your school have a beehive?

CJ Westerberg, 10.27.2013

"If we want children to be inventors, we have to give them opportunities to invent." - 5:00 mark, Mission Hill video

Read Post | Comments