Parenting: The Big Picture

This is the second of a four part speech series that I gave in my local Toastmasters speech club. Read Part One here


What do a 1972 primer gray chevy suburban, a toy telephone, and a hot 32 year old woman all have in common? To me, they all represent something. A symbol if you will, that when combined create the big picture of what good parenting is all about.

But who am I to talk about good parenting? I’ve only been a dad for just over 3 years now. So to elaborate, I’ll draw from 3 people who I think ARE experts: my mom, my dad, and my wife. I’ll share with you 3 experiences and how each one has taught me what it means to be the best dad possible.

First – My Mom

Now I want you to look at this picture. No, it’s not a picture of my mother. It’s a 1972 suburban. This is very similar to what our family car looked like when I was in 8th grade. The only difference is that our old suburban didn’t even have paint. It was primer gray! Talk about ugly!

During that time, my mother was kind enough to come pick me up every day after track practice so I didn’t have to take the bus home.

One day I was standing outside the track with my friends when we heard a loud noise coming up the hill. The noise continued to get louder and louder until we saw where it was coming from. Horrified, I recognized it as our 1972 primer gray suburban with my mom driving. The noise was coming from the car horn. But my mom wasn’t mad at anyone. The horn was stuck! And this was a loud horn!

I was an 8th grader with an extremely fragile self esteem, standing there with my friends. Embarrassing to say the least! My mother was wise enough to understand this though so she swung into the parking lot, drove right passed us, and parked behind a building where the horn was muffled just a bit.

I slowly dismissed myself from my friends and once out of their view, ran to where my mom was parked. I jumped in the car, laid flat on the floor, and yelled, “Go! Go! Go!” Once we were clear from the school, the horn still blaring, I yelled, “What’s happening?!” She just said, “I don’t know! It’s stuck!”

Just then, we were parked at a red light when the guy stopped in front of us glared at us like, “What the heck are you thinking? It’s a red light!” My mom just waved her hands like, “I don’t know, I’m sorry” and at that moment we both started busting up. We couldn’t stop laughing the entire way home.

This Leads Me to My Dad

Believe it or not, the picture to the left is not a picture of my dad! It’s actually a picture of a toy phone similar to one I had when I was about 5 years old. I took it everywhere with me. I even remember using it as a fishing pole. How? Not sure. Just a kid’s imagination I guess.

One day, I was leaning over a dock in the lake “fishing” with my phone. Much to my dismay, I dropped my phone and started crying. My dad came over, calmed me down, and took the opportunity to teach a key lesson. He said, “Maybe if you pray, God will help you get your phone back”.

I did. That night I remember praying harder than I ever had before.

The next day, after my dad got home from work, he took me around to the side of the house. And there was my phone! Dad explained that because of my prayer and faith, God helped me get my phone back.

And Now, Finally, My Wife Heidi

And yes, this IS a picture of Heidi. We went on our first ever date to Disneyland. When we were standing in line, I asked her, “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” She smiled and said, “Basically, I want to be the absolute best mom I can be”.

She was smiling, but she was dead serious.

You see, Heidi’s parents were divorced when she was 12 years old and it had a big effect on her. As a 12 year old girl, she decided then that no success she could ever obtain in the world would make up for anything she could do in her own child’s life.

Now she’s a full time mother of 2 little girls. It’s a tuff job. Have you ever tried it? Even for a day? Phew!

I’ll let you in on something – Heidi is my secret weapon to parenting. She’s such a good mom in fact, it spills over and it actually makes me look like a good dad!

We may not always agree, but in front of the kids we stand together as one unit. You see our 3 year old is always testing the system for weaknesses. And since Mom is usually locked down, she goes for the weak spot – Dad. I may be a push over but all I have to say is, “What did your mom just say? Then that’s what I say too.”

To Sum Up

From my mom, I learned about dedication. I learned about sacrifice. I learned about concern for your child’s feelings. I learned also about having a good sense of humor.

From my dad, I learned the importance of being a teacher and sharing good values. Looking back, it’s obvious that my dad, an avid scuba diver, probably dove down and got the phone after work. But, he took the time to make a lasting impression on me and to bolster my faith.

From Heidi, I learn continually, that no amount of success I could have in the world could ever compare to having a happy and loving family at home.

So when I think about a 1972 primer gray suburban, a toy telephone, and a hot 32 year old woman, I think about the kind of parent I’m supposed to be and I get the big picture of what parenting is all about.


Read Part 3 in this series…