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Fathers and Sons “ Matt and Me ” - The Good The Bad And the Ugly. About Me – David Holdren. Age 44, BLESSED to be married to Melissa and have 3 kids – Matt – 19, Abby – 10, and Emma - 8 Grew up in Roanoke, Va. in a rough neighborhood in what you may call the “Slums” or the “Hood”

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About Me – David Holdren

  • Age 44, BLESSED to be married to Melissa and have 3 kids – Matt – 19, Abby – 10, and Emma - 8
  • Grew up in Roanoke, Va. in a rough neighborhood in what you may call the “Slums” or the “Hood”
  • The youngest of 5 – My dad left my mom when I was 2 with 5 kids 10 and under (one being Mentally Retarded)
  • My mom was my mom and dad, but did not have much time due to her working multiple jobs – Strong Christian lady who always made sure we went to Church
  • Interestingly my dad lived one city block from us, but never attempted to visit us (actually cashed federal help checks for 5 years without my mom knowing about it)
  • Went to Freed-Hardeman and we have lived in Hendersonville since 1994
  • I work for a healthcare company in Nashville in Information Services

Becoming a Dad

  • Melissa and I were surprised to find out she was pregnant after being married only a year and having Matt when I was 24 – how did that happen? Interesting story that I blame on my brother
  • I was young, not ready, no instruction on how to be a dad and no mentors around me to help me understand what I was about to experience
  • I did know I wanted Matt to experience something different than what I experienced
  • The next 19 years were “Trial and Error’ – Many Errors on my part that I would like to share with you in hopes you will learn from my mistakes as a dad
  • We tried to live by the words in Joshua 24:15 “… But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD”

Early Years – Infant / Toddler

  • I really enjoyed spending time with Matt and seeing him grow through those early stages, but I had a huge struggle early on with how to allocate my time. I liked doing the things I liked to do such as Basketball and Golf
  • He ate, pooped and cried a lot (actually was a very happy baby)
  • We moved from Henderson, TN to Antioch (6 months) to Hendersonville – Very stressful time on my marriage to Melissa and me being a dad
  • What do I think I did right?
    • First of all, married the Right Person – Great wife and mother to my children
    • Did not listen to people telling me about what was about to occur with the “Terrible Twos” I enjoyed all of the stages of his early life
  • What could I have done differently?
    • Found a mentor to help me be a better father – Could be a friend who already has a child or someone you know who has a great relationship with their dad – I did not know I needed one!
    • Focused less on self (a lot of golf) and more on family activities
    • Worked harder at being a better husband, father, Christian and servant
  • We alwa

Early Years – Young Child

  • Matt grew up an only child until he was 9 and we focused a lot of time / money on him (spoiled him)
  • He grew to like sports I never had an interest in such as Hockey and Soccer (No offense, but soccer was a sissy sport when I grew up – If only I had played to see how wrong I was) – What was he thinking not to like basketball??
  • We moved a few times in Hendersonville finally settling in Wyncrest for 8 years

Early Years – Young Child

  • What do I think I did right?
    • Got involved in a ministry at Church he and I could both do – Driving the Christian Manor bus (He did not drive). Hopefully he saw the importance of serving and the ladies absolutely loved seeing him
    • Helped coordinate with others the Father / Child campout – Great memories for both of us and hopefully helped others experience something they would not have otherwise – no TVs or iPhones – Just good times with each other
    • Made an effort to not travel as much at work – I realize it is not always possible, but for me it was
    • Always told Matt I loved him and gave him plenty of hugs
  • What could I have done differently?
    • Encouraged him and participated in the things he liked to do even though I did not such as hockey (I tried really hard!)
    • Focus less effort on the small stuff and more on the big stuff – Less on getting mad at him for not cleaning his room, leaving stuff laying around, grades, etc… and more on the importance of him being more involved with people his age at church and the importance of things such as being honest and respectful
    • Realized that my mood most of the time sets his mood – Bringing home a bad day at work which makes for a bad day at home – leave it at work!!

Middle School – 10-13

  • Matt experienced the change of us adding 2 more in our family – His life changed and now he had two young sisters learning from him
  • He began to change physically and experienced changes in his body
  • He struggled in school applying himself and had conflicts with some of his teachers - We were very hard on him for it ( I am glad I did not have that struggle LOL – averaged C’s and D’s in school through my Junior year in college)
  • His interests continued to change – began Karate and could kick my butt at the age of 12 (not really)
  • Involved in the youth group at church – Had 4 or 5 youth ministers during his tenure – It is your responsibility to raise your kid – not the youth minister

Middle School – 10-13

  • What do I think I did right?
    • I began to become more involved in the things he liked to hopefully form a bond – Went through 3 years of Karate with him. Bought a boat which was a hit with all of our family and turned out to be awesome family time.
    • Took a few “Matt and Me” trips such as a trip alone with him to Fall Creek Falls – Most memorable moment? Me hitting a deer in the side on the first tee at Fall Creek Falls – It went “Plunk” – Funny for us – Not the deer - Ask Matt about it… We talked about everything from girls, sex, drinking, becoming more spiritual, etc… The things no one ever talked to me about
    • Baptized him at the age of 11 – January 25th, 2003 (Date I will never forget!). Began praying for him specifically – Should have done this from day one!
    • Began teaching in the youth group to help, but also to get to know kids his age and learn what they were experiencing
    • Always told Matt I loved him and gave him plenty of hugs
  • What could I have done differently?
    • Once again – Focus less on the small stuff and more on the truly important stuff – Spirituality, Honesty, Respect, Integrity, Character (you are who you are when no one is watching – Remember this for later)
    • I should have remembered the times I screwed up and been a little more compassionate (remember how I did in school??) – Take advantage of those teaching moments
    • Reinforced the importance of the example he sets for his sisters and those around him
    • Admitting when I was wrong and saying I am sorry
    • SLOW TO ANGER – Cool off before discipline

High School – 14 -18

  • We moved to our current house on Bahia Mar Point and he started at HHS
  • He became braver in confrontation with me as he grew in age and size. We knew each other’s buttons and definitely pushed them.
  • We began to see less and less of Matt with him being involved in high school sports and youth group activities – Our time to help Matt become who he is, was coming to an end too quickly!
  • Matt found something he really enjoyed to do in Swimming for HHS – Great experience for him - and Scuba Diving
  • Started working mowing grass, and working at places like Publix, lifeguarding and Chick-fil-A to make money to buy a car
  • Got his drivers license and bought a car from me for $2,500 (at a discount and with Daddy 401 match) BUT he bought it
  • Made several bad choices - Got in serious trouble the summer of his 17th year – crushed us – Remember those things I wished I had focused more on? Honesty and Integrity? You are who you are when no one is watching! They really are important!
  • Melissa and I having friends to lean on helped us tremendously

High School – 14 -18

  • What do I think I did right?
    • Matt was a major part of my prayer life - His teen years actually helped strengthen my relationship with God which was part of God’s plan for me
    • Forged friendships / looked to mentors which tremendously helped us through the tough times
    • Focused on family trips and trips with friends who loved and cared for our family
    • Continued to take “Matt and Me” trips and have talks about everything – It was tough getting him to open up
    • Helped find Brian Sheppard and bring him to HCOC – Never knew how much he would help us during the 17th summer of Matt’s life. God knew!
    • Helped instill a good work ethic and teaching him things such as fixing things around our house
    • Always told Matt I loved him and gave him plenty of hugs
  • What could I have done differently?
    • Know who he is hanging with and be more observant in behavior changes. Questioned more when things did not make sense
    • Encouraged him to be more involved in leading at church – Lords Supper, Leading Prayer, reading scripture, etc…
    • Ephesians 6:4 and Colosians 3:21- These verses could be translated to “Fathers, do not push your children’s buttons and discouraged them”
    • Remember SLOW TO ANGER! Cool off before punishing.

College – 19 and Counting

  • Matt decided to attend Tennessee Tech after considering Harding, FHU (only because of me) and Lipscomb
  • He is planning on being an Electrical Engineer
  • Matt is gone – Sad, but exciting for him starting a new chapter in his life
  • We see him most weekends, but our time of influence is dwindling
  • We both like skiing and are continuing our “Matt and Me” trips – Just got back from Breckenridge on his Spring Break – Being a dad is great! Tip - Don’t suggest trips for your wife and daughters to take such as going to Cheekwood on Spring Break when you just got back from Breckenridge…
  • As your kids grow up their interests will change – Try hard to find things in common. Skiing and Poker are new activities both of us really like. Much easier to talk with him when you are having fun.
  • What we think we did right and what we think we could have done differently:
    • TBD…

Advice from a few of my Mentors

  • “Find out what your common interests are and use it to your advantage as you converse with your son and help him grow”
  • “My dad was not a big hugger and rarely said I love you, which may be a generational thing, but I do with my son everyday”
  • “Your son is a special gift from God to you as a father – Take care of the gift”
  • “I don’t want my son to be afraid to ask me or to discuss the tough things. I would rather him come to me versus someone else who may not have his best interests at heart – They will learn from others if you do not teach”
  • “My dad wasn’t as open in conversation with me about things like sex, drinking, etc…, but I am changing that with my son and taking advantage of the opportunities”
  • “My dad lived what he preached”. “Man of character”.
  • “My dad was always consistent”. “If he told you to stop doing something you better stop”. “If he told you he was going to punish you for doing something the next time and you did it, he followed through on his word”
  • “My dad, as we have grown older together shares his wisdom with me and listens”.

Closing - Take with you

  • Focus less on the small stuff and more on the important stuff
  • Focus less on self and more on Family
  • SLOW TO ANGER – Cool off before confronting your son
  • Remember your son will be different than you were and are and will have different interests. Find things you both like to do (even if you are making concessions) and make sure you have one on one time together – “Matt and Me Trips”
  • Become spiritually involved in conversations with your son early on
  • Have those talks with him about EVERYTHING he will experience – physically, emotionally, spiritually, the many struggles, etc…
  • Know who your kids are hanging with and ask questions to uncover what may be behind behavior changes
  • Take advantage of the great resources at HCOC – We are blessed! Teachers, ministers, elders, counselors, activities, etc…
  • Know what the buttons are for your kids and DON’T PUSH THEM!
  • Tell your kids you love them and give them hugs
  • Enjoy your SHORT time with them – Ask anyone who has adult children how fast the time will go…
  • Most importantly pray specifically for your son at whatever stage he is in his life