Brandon S. Field
Champaign IL USA
Report on a session from the 2005 LLLI Conference
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 22 No. 5, September-October 2005, p. 205
In the session "Covering Home: Lessons on the Art of Fathering," Jack Petrash peppered his discussion of fathering topics with baseball analogies. Clear from his style was his comfort in leading group discussions. Several times he invited attendees to consider different thoughts, share insights, and to ask questions. It was amazing how the request to "think of a time that you felt especially close to your father" brought out depth, emotion, and reflection from fathers as they shared their responses. Petrash punctuated the session with personal examples: stories of playing catch with his father, his family history, and situations that resonated with many of the fathers in the room.
"Covering home," the title analogy of the session and his book, comes from the baseball term that implies a player is out of position to prevent a runner from scoring. He pointed out that many times fathers feel as though they are playing out of position. An example he provided was about the time he took his teenage daughter shopping for a bathing suit.
He also pointed out that even the best baseball team loses frequently. At the All-Star break this season, the best percentage was just under 67 percent: that's one loss every three games. He went on to note that it is not failure that separates a good player from a bad player. It is what the person and the team do about the failure: making changes in the lineup to keep players from being caught in "pickle" plays, or recognizing that the pitch count is too high and turning to the bullpen for relief. Good parenting is not about always winning.
Petrash, a father of grown children, closed with an important lesson for fathers who feel pressured and pulled in many different ways: "Make the every day experience beautiful -- it's not about Disney World, it's about bath time."