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Published June 21, 2009, 12:00 AM

Kids do the grilling on Father’s Day

Three area dads answer their kids’ queries about parenting, growing up Pop culture stereotypes can portray dads in simplistic terms. But the truth is, at their best, fathers can be a rich mix of compassion and discipline, benefactor and warrior, gentleness and strength.

By: J. Shane Mercer, INFORUM

Pop culture stereotypes can portray dads in simplistic terms. But the truth is, at their best, fathers can be a rich mix of compassion and discipline, benefactor and warrior, gentleness and strength.

And, in honor of Father’s Day, The Forum chose a few area dads to sit down with their children and talk about the complexities and delights of fatherhood. We used the Priceless Legacy Co.’s list of nine questions everyone should ask their father as the starting point for the interviews. Here’s what we heard:


The McLarnans

Rod McLarnan, a partner at the McLarnan & Skatvold law firm in Moorhead, was admitted to the bar in 1954. One of his partners is Tim McLarnan, who, by the way, is also one of Rod’s five children. Tim, who’s been practicing law for three decades and is, himself, a father of three, posed questions to his dad.


TM: What did you enjoy most about being a father?

RM: Just about everything. I enjoyed camping, skiing, sailing, picnics. I enjoyed watching you grow up. When you were starting to do something new, I got a thrill out of watching you stumble and fall and get picked up and kind of, you know, like watching a bird start to fly. And I enjoyed all of that.


What did you enjoy the least?

(The) typical answer would be with five kids in the station wagon and we’re on a long trip camping, and then there’s all kinds of fighting going on and I’d say, “I’m going to stop the car and make you all walk.” A minor irritation, but even the difficult times had an emotional part to it that I kind of enjoyed.


What do you think is the secret to raising good kids?

I wish I knew the answer to that. I could be a millionaire. But I think it’s being involved with them, having physical contact with them, being honest with them, sharing their life and then having them share your life – that interconnection that takes place. … And, I think, Tim, that it happens when you just spend casual time.


Is there anything you regret not having asked your parents?

Yeah, but it was such a different time. I remember asking my dad one time, “Do you believe in God?” I never knew whether he did. I was aware of the fact that that was a very uncomfortable question for him and he dodged it, and I don’t think I ever brought it up again.


Do you think fathers today have it harder or easier as compared to your time, or is it just different?

My sense is it’s harder, and I think that’s because there are so many distractions. Just think of the time kids spend on the Internet and their telecommunications. And it seems to me that one of the problems is it is allowing them to go outside of the family relationship. I mean their connections are external, not internal, and I think that makes it more difficult to be intimate with your children and I think intimacy is the key.


What do you want to make sure that my children remember about you?

Well, I think the same thing I want my own children to remember about me, that is, I care about them, I revel in their successes and I hope that I can console them in their failures. But I hope that in some way I’ve been able to add some encouragement about their hopes and their dreams and their futures, which I think was part of what I tried to do with all five of you.


The Ghauris

Born in Lahore, Pakistan, Moorhead resident Sajid Ghauri is the owner of the Fargo-based telecommunications business Network and Technology Solutions Inc. He also owns convenience stores in Oakport and Glyndon. Ghauri is the father of four, including his eldest, Jamal, who just turned 13 and did the honor of interviewing his father.


JG: What is the hardest part for you about being a dad?

SG: Obviously, myself, as I’m growing I’m learning, too. Then I have the responsibility of teaching that to you guys, so sometimes you don’t know whether what you are teaching your kids is correct or not. But, again, that’s the hardest part because you want to do the best for your kids.


What part’s easiest for you?

The part which is easiest for me is to have fun with you guys. It’s just, like, great because I can always enjoy (being) with you guys, and you guys have a very good response. You know, those are the parts which I will say are very easy. Communication with you guys is pretty easy. I will say those are still the easy parts though you are still 12 (at the time of the interview) and once you hit 13, we will see what will be the easiest part.Are there things you wish you had done differently as a father?

I notice, you guys sometimes take it for granted the lifestyle we have here. And I wish, I really wish I could have done that, to take you guys to those countries where people have the money but they don’t have the food. … And the next few years, I will … take you guys over there, somewhere, in a different part of the world where there is poverty to that level or food is not available.


Why did you marry my mom?

She is very caring. She is very, I will say, polite with people. I love socializing. She loves socializing. And, you know, where I am lacking, she has that capability of covering that angle. Where she’s lacking, I have the capability of covering that part. So we are just a perfect fit. So as we know each other more and more, we knew that we are for each other.


Is there anything you ever wanted to tell me but have not?

You know, we have a very good relationship that we’re very open to each other ... (I don’t think) I hide anything inside my heart which basically I hide it from you or I wanted to tell you … I want to tell you more about the stories of my lifestyle and how I grew up, but I tell you as time passes when the time comes.


Do you think today’s fathers have it harder, easier or different?

Parents overall and fathers overall in the United States have a much harder life than the parents and the fathers in Pakistan because the cultural difference right there is that we have a family system where grandparents are living with you and all this stuff. And, you know, you do spend time with your kids, but there is a lot of support system (in Pakistan). Over here in this culture in America that support system doesn’t exist. ... Not putting anybody down, but, you know, still, everybody has their own life, which I fully understand. And the parents have to do a lot for their kids, you know. You can see us turning in 20 different directions.


What do you want to make sure that future generations of our family remember about you?

(The message we want to pass on to) our whole family is, to take care of your friends and family and the people you know or people in need, that’s very important.


The Linds

Bob Lind and his Neighbors column are something of an institution here at The Forum. Back in the day, Bob, 76, and his wife owned a weekly newspaper in Larimore, N.D., before he began his four-decade (so far) tenure with The Forum. Laurie Lind, one of Bob’s four children, is a local radio host, writer and hospital chaplain. She interviewed Bob for us.


LL: What did you enjoy most about being a dad?

BL: I have to pick one thing? Well, having you kids and watching you grow up and mature and do exciting things. ... Each one has your own personality, your own gifts, your own talents, and just seeing them develop and mature, it was just fun.


In what ways are we alike?

We both want to serve the Lord. We both like to write. We both like music. We like the old movies. We like to read. ... You’ve learned to like baseball like I did. And we both support America’s team, the Twins.


Why did you marry my mother?

Well, the obvious one is I loved her … Of course for guys, (they) like attractive gals. But there are a lot of attractive gals out there.

But she had the right combination of spirituality, intelligence, humor, felt comfortable around her ... I’ve thought back about some of those other gals I dated before I knew your mom and they were nice girls, but, boy, I just think if I’d have married any of them, I can’t imagine it would have been as good.


Your wedding anniversary is which day?

Oh, on Valentine’s day. … Mom has always been accused of this, of picking that day so that I would always remember our anniversary date because husbands sometimes can’t remember their anniversary date.


What is the secret to raising good kids?

Well, I would say be sure they’re grounded in the Word, in the Word of God, you know. Going through church and all that, but (also) at home and getting the truth of the Word and get your eyes focused on the Lord and put your trust in him ... We’re all here to give glory to God. That’s why we’re here.


Is there anything you regret not having asked your parents?

Oh my, yes. Well, just things they did when they were younger. Like my dad was in the tail end of World War I … I was in the service as you know for three years, and I wish I’d have asked my dad, “What was it like for you in 1918? What was it like?” You know when you’re a kid you don’t think about asking your parents all those things. And, of course, now both of my parents are gone. And I wish I’d known more about what it was like for them growing up when they were – what now was a century ago when they were kids.


What do you want to make sure that your children, grandchildren and their children remember about you?

Well, my hairstyle …


How many hours a day do you work on your hair?

Oh, sometimes up to 20 seconds.

I’d hope that they would see me as a kind of a spiritual example because I’d want them to have a spiritual relationship with Christ. ... You don’t inherit spirituality, but you hope they would see something there that would encourage them to do that.


Is there anything else, any thoughts you have about fatherhood for Father’s Day?

I was very grateful that we were allowed to have you four kids, very grateful. And the fact that you’ve all grown up to be solid young people, that’s a joy.


And we’re grateful to have you for a dad, too … Great, great gift. Great blessing.

You think I’m probably the best (father) you ever had?


Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734

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