Father to Son

The Transfer of Home Improvement Knowledge from One Generation to the Next

By Mark J. Donovan

Back in the days of my youth the only consumer electronic distractions were the television and phone, and even they were of limited diversion due to so few channels and corded lines. Today’s world is much different. We are both blessed and cursed with a myriad of technology products and services that include computers, smart phones, video games, internet, cable television and almost an infinite supply of new TV programming and movies. All are entertaining and in many ways they have helped our society in terms of the transfer of information and pure knowledge.

However, these same technologies have also been a detriment to our society. All of us have fallen victim to the pitfalls of this technology, however none more so than our youth.

Due to the entertainment aspects of this technology, today’s children spend an increasing amount of their days inside the home glued to a screen and a remote. Though in many cases they are learning information, not all of that information is either healthy or beneficial to their lives. In addition, they become increasingly unengaged and disaffected with their own families and have trouble interacting in face to face situations. Today’s teenage love seems to be based more on a wave of technology interaction, than on actual experiences and activities shared between two people. The same is true between father and son, and mother and daughter relationships.

Though there are many reasons for concern for the technology tether that enslaves our youth, of most concern to me is the transfer of practical hands-on knowledge from father to son and from mother to daughter. In my youth I spent much of my “free-time” standing beside my father learning basic carpentry and auto maintenance skills. I learned how to do things by actually doing them after getting verbal instructions from my father. Along the way, I learned how to do things such as frame a house, maintain a yard, build fences, and tune-up and overhaul an engine.

In some cases I also learned what not to do, such as hold onto the end of a loose sparkplug when it was still connected to the distributor cap and your father was turning over the engine.

Along the way I also obtained some practical experiences and uses for mathematics, physics, chemistry, electricity, and mechanics. It was undoubtedly this father to son transfer of knowledge that framed my destiny to eventually go on to college and major in electrical engineering. And from there, pursue a career as design engineer and build such things as rockets, radars, computers, and telecom equipment.

Though I was fortunate enough to grow up in a nuclear family, which I believe ultimately offers the most opportunity for practical hands-on parent to child knowledge transfer, the seductive tentacles of today’s technology affects every family, nuclear or extended. This said, father time cannot and should not be turned back. The benefits of today’s technology are profound and undisputed. However, as parents we need to make sure to constantly engage with our children and set limits on the technology. In addition, we must not let ourselves use the technology as a proxy for our own parenting skills.

Though the information and knowledge potentially learned from computers and the internet is vast, they yet provide the hands-on father to son and mother to daughter practical experiences that we can still offer.

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