Lowcountry men share lessons that shaped them as dads
Today we honor our fathers.
Fathers by the numbers
70.1 million: Estimated number of fathers in the U.S.
24.7 million: Number of fathers who were part of married-couple families with children younger than 18 in 2011.
1.7 million: Number of single fathers in 2011; 15 percent of single parents were men: About 45 percent were divorced; 31 percent were never married; 19 percent were separated; and 5 percent were widowed.
176,000: Estimated number of stay-at-home dads in 2011. These married fathers with children younger than 15 have remained out of the labor force for at least one year.
$1.9 billion: Amount of child support received by custodial fathers in 2009; they were due $3.5 billion. In contrast, custodial mothers received $19.5 billion.
25: Average age at which men become fathers.
76: Percentage of dads who became a dad before age 40.
Census Bureau and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
While many believe the observation was manufactured by greeting card companies, it was started by Sonora Louise Smart Dodd of Spokane, Wash., as a way to recognize her father, who raised six children by himself after the death of his wife. She chose June because it was the month her father was born.
Father's Day was first observed in 1910 and in 1972, President Richard Nixon made it permanently the third Sunday in June.
“We learn from our fathers things such as work ethic and respect for authority,” said Summerville family counselor Sherrie Young. “They may not realize that they are shaping lives like they are, but they are. The most influential relationships kids have are those with their mother and father. It's important that kids have good role models, and sadly, today, many kids don't have that.”
In honor of Father's Day, we asked some men what they learned from their own fathers.
Single mom taught man to be a dad
David Bennett learned what kind of father he wanted to be not from his father, but from his mother.
Growing up in a single-parent household with nine siblings, he saw things from his mother's perspective.
“My mother taught me to be a giver, not a taker,” said Bennett, 48, chief operating officer for Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission. “To be a part of giving to society versus taking from it.”
He also learned what it takes for a man to be there for his family, he said.
That led to him being a hands-on dad, attending events and games that involve his sons, ages 19 and 17, and daughter, 13.
“I knew what I was missing and I didn't want my kids to miss out on it,” said Bennett, of Wadmalaw Island. “So I make sure I always know what's going on and go to their activities.”
With his older son just completing a year of college, he also realizes how quickly children grow up.
“Growing up the way I did, I'm not into material things,” he said. “My best gift is spending time with them. When they were little I could control that, but now that they're older, not so much so. I strive to have a close-knit family, and the best gift I could get is them being there with me and spending time together.
Passing on father's advice
Russell Patterson appreciated growing up in a traditional family, looking up to his parents, he said.
“Those were different times,” said Patterson, 73, of Sumter.
Patterson, a former Negro League baseball player and retired private school coach, said he believes hero worship — of the wrong kinds of people — is a problem with today's youth.
“The kids don't look up to the right people,” said Patterson, the father of a son, 49, and daughter, 48.
Patterson said some of his father's advice has stayed with him throughout his life.
“My father always told me never have a hero,” he said. “He said, 'Never have a hero. Make your own way in life.' I did and it worked and I passed that on to my kids. That, and 'Never look back, always look ahead. Don't dwell on the past.'?”
Patterson said his son has often called him for parenting advice with his two children.
“Sometimes he calls me up and asks me what to do about things,” he said. “And I tell him a lot of the same things my father told me.”
Dad led by example; son does too
Christopher Floyd doesn't have much experience as a father, but he has enjoyed his time so far.
Floyd, 36, is the father of Layne, 5, and a daughter expected to arrive in October.
“I think the best thing my dad taught me was to lead by example,” said Floyd, of Johns Island who is self-employed and recently took a morning off work to attend his son's last-day-of-kindergarten celebration. “I think my dad was a very good example to me growing up.”
He said his father continues to be pivotal as he finds his way through parenthood.
He puts importance on spending time with his son, often taking him to work with him.
For his part, young Layne enjoys spending time with his dad, too.
“My favorite thing is when we go fishing together,” he said.
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or www.facebook.com/brindge