Father’s Day typically gets outshined by Mother’s Day, at least if you compare the two days based upon consumer spending.  A Father’s Day gift you may want to consider is the new nonfiction book, “Pops”, by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Michael Chaban.   “Pops” is a collection of seven essays on fatherhood, each of which shines a light on moments revealing the plight of the modern father.     

The book began life in 2016 as an article in GQ Magazine for which Chabon was dispatched to write about Paris men’s fashion week. He took his youngest son, Abe, with him on the assignment as a bar mitzvah present. Abe was 13 at the time and, thanks to his older brother, was already deeply into clothes, though he had long superseded his sibling in terms of style, knowledge and enthusiasm. In the essay, Chabon takes the role of Abe’s “ponderous old minder”, amused at what he saw at fashion week as models prowled the catwalk in shaggy yellow Muppet pants.  By the end of the week, he was none the wiser about fashion, but he was much wiser about his son’s obsession.

Chabon in his essay writes:

You are born into a family and those are your people, and they know you and they love you and if you are lucky they even, on occasion, manage to understand you. And that ought to be enough. But it is never enough. Abe had not been dressing up, styling himself, for all these years because he was trying to prove how different he was from everyone else. He did it in the hope of attracting the attention of somebody else—somewhere, someday—who was the same. He was not flying his freak flag; he was sending up a flare, hoping for rescue, for company in the solitude of his passion.

You were with your people. You found them.

As a parent you hope your sons or daughters will find an obsession to consume them.  The trick is attempting to let your children find their own way.

At the end of the essay, Chaban’s son admits that of all the fashion shows they attended during their week in Paris, his favorite was the one that he went to alone. He tells his father that the best part was the people. “They get it.”.  Abe had found his tribe.

As the father of five children, I originally believed that our job was to have our children learn from us.  In reality, our job may simply be to learn from our children. Happy Father’s Day to all the dedicated fathers.   

About Jerry

Jerold E. Rothkoff, a practicing New Jersey and Pennsylvania attorney, is the Principal of the Rothkoff Law Group, an elder care law firm. Jerry dedicates his practice to serving clients in the areas of life care planning, long-term care planning, Medicaid & VA benefits, and advocacy for the elderly and disabled. He is past President of the NJ Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, former chair of the elder law section of the NJ State Bar Association, and past President of the Life Care Planning Law Firm Association. Jerry continues to be an outspoken advocate for the rights of the elderly and disabled. He writes for and gives presentations regularly to attorneys and other professionals about legal issues related to seniors and those with disabilities. Jerry’s community activities include the Twilight Wish Foundation, the Delaware Valley Stroke Council, the Alzheimer’s Association, as well as numerous other advocacy groups. When not in the office, Jerry spends time with his wife, Erica, and their five children, eighteen-year old identical twin girls, Liza and Julia, fifteen-year old fraternal twin boys, Evan and Gregory, and six-year old Aitan.

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