I have always thought that I was a failure as a parent. In recent years, I’ve even been reminded of it. I hold great regrets about the upbringing of my kids. Being a parent is not something you are trained to do. You learn as you go by watching others, and you rely on the things you learned from your parents. I didn’t feel prepared – far from it. So I blamed my parents for my failures in relationships, education, occupations and life.

Over time, however, I have learned that my life is just that…MY life. And as I’ve let go of the resentments toward my parents, I’ve begun to appreciate some of the qualities they gave me and who they were. These are their stories….

Mother (1923-1996) was the only child of German parents who were divorced. She rarely saw her father who was an engineer and traveled extensively. She spent her youth and early 20s during the German depression and Hitler years. She was a determined lady who took care of friends and family and managed to survive the fall of Berlin to the Russians while taking care of her mother and three year old son. After the war, she organized and sent many German orphans to America for adoption.

While living in Santa Rosa CA (1959-1996) she owned and ran a restaurant, a chain of Hallmark stationary stores, and at the last, sold real estate. She had many friends and was determined to succeed at any undertaking. Her work ethic was second to no one. She rarely cried, after all she was German. She was strong, determined and stoic.

And as I reflect on her life, it’s clear to me now that she did not have a role model for being a parent.  She did the very best she could.

Mother Stories blog 8/12/2014

Father (1918-1998) was a child of the depression and a career Army man (1940-61). He fought in two wars (WW II and Korea). A man of very few words, he had no friends other than those acquired or connected with Mother. He faced and overcame the many hardships of the depression, along with the agony of seven years of war. Throughout it all, he supported the family as best he could.  His lack of sociability must have pained Mother deeply.

The only time I saw him cry was when Mother was in the hospital. It was also the only time I heard him tell her he loved her (too bad she was unconscious). I was his only child, and my brother (Mother was a German war widow) always said Dad loved me better than him; love can be relative.

Just like Mother, as I reflect, I know now that he too did not have a good role model for being a parent.

Pride an Pain blog 5/1/2018

Father Knows Best blog 6/16/2015


I now realize my parents have given me some good attributes; work ethic, ethical behavior, caring for family (even if I struggle to show it sometimes), perseverance, doing your duty, and thrift to name a few.  Like most of us, I have had personal problems and hardships to overcome in life. Looking back, I can see how my upbringing helped me through the challenges that came my way. Even as they struggled as parents without role models, they passed along their values in the way they approached each day, and for that I’m grateful.

Melancholy blog 2/7/2017

Bully Bully blog 1/21/2014


I do not know what legacy I have given my kids. Friends tell me that I’m not a failure, and I’m trying to believe that. Truthfully, though, I think it’s a feeling most parents live with…Could I have done it differently?

When I imagine my children reflecting  on me, as I have done with my parents, I can only hope for one thing – that in spite of my lack of role models, maybe I gave them some good qualities that have helped along the way.



5 thoughts on “Failure

  1. Tom that was excellent, I enjoyed the read. I was always an open book to my children, they know me well. The covers of the book opened wider when Nancy passed. I havenothing but the utmost respect for the three of them. I’m so lucky to have them.



    • I love when you write about your past, your present, your life. You have so many stories to tell – and you do it well. Thank you for sharing them with us.


  2. Dad,
    I can honestly say that you didn’t fail as a parent or father, I hate to think that you think that of yourself. You are a good role model & yes there are things that I wish were different while we were growing up but you have given all of your children every opportunity to go to college and get educated. While non of us 3 have a degree, I have enough college education for a Masters Degree but the classes don’t add up to a specific degree. However, I have learned a ton of information about many things and feel very smart. I am now 41 & own my own Structural Drafting company where I design new residences & additions to decks and many other structures. I couldn’t of ever if done this w/ out your support!!! I may not have a degree but I use my knowledge to the best of my abilities. I would love to sit down with you and show you a “Submittal package”, which is all the drawings, specifications & calculations to support the design so that you can really see what I do!!! We haven’t had that opportunity and I think that might change your mind on thinking you failed me!! I also have a beautiful wonderful wife whom I love dearly and loves you too!! I love you Dad and you are the best!!!
    Love your son,


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