June 11, 2001
Best of all, he's her father
by Deborah Stone
According to 13-year-old Kathryn Frazier of Woodinville, her father Tim Frazier is a special kind of guy - so special, that the words she wrote about him won first prize in the 2001 Seattle Mariners' Father of the Year Essay Contest sponsored by FatherLove and the National Center for Fathering.
Twenty-five hundred students, in first through twelfth grades, across King County, submitted essays on the topic, "What My Father Means to Me," highlighting the fathers or father figures in their lives. One essay winner in each grade level was chosen and one of the men featured in the winning essays will be honored at an upcoming Mariners game by being named the 2001 Seattle Mariners' Father of the Year.
Kathryn sees her dad as a major support figure in her life. She says, "My dad is always so supportive of what I do and he encourages me to do what interests me. He's there for me and helps me when I need it, like when I want him to work with me on my batting practice or when I don't understand my math homework, I can count on him to take the time to help me. He never says 'no' and he always finds time for me."
Kathryn feels that her dad is a great role model because he has such a caring personality and gets along with all kinds of people. "People are comfortable with my dad," explains Kathryn. "He makes them feel good and he has a great sense of humor. What's special about him is that he really likes my friends and treats them as if they're his own kids. He also helps them, too. My friends enjoy being around him."
In Kathryn's opinion, she sees the job of being her dad as a challenging one, especially when he has four active teens under the same roof. She says, "He supports each one of us and tries to be there for us and I know that's difficult because we each have our own activities. I know that must be hard to feel stretched in a million places."
Tim agrees with his daughter's perceptions and feels that keeping up with his kids is definitely one of the biggest challenges in being a father. He comments, "My kids are close in age and they are each different people with different needs and interests. I try to be sensitive to each child's talents and I try to encourage them to pursue their dreams. It's a fine line, though, to nudge them without overpressuring them."
On the flip side, Tim finds being a dad an incredibly wonderful experience with amazing rewards. For him, watching his kids grow up and become whatever it is they've chosen to be is immensely satisfying. When asked for some words of wisdom on being a father, Tim replies, "Love your wife and show your children that you do, take time for yourself, be there for your children and help them to understand who they are and above all, don't take everything so seriously. The ability to laugh as a parent is very important."
Tim's relationships with his children are all close, but he feels he shares something extra special with Kathryn due to their both being the youngest members born into large families. "When you're the youngest, you have to find your place amid the chaos of a big family," explains Tim. "You learn how to get along with different people and you also learn compassion towards others. I think Kathryn and I share this sensitivity and desire to welcome others into our hearts. Kathryn has a heart of gold and is an anchor for her friends. She tries to build up other kids by making them feel good about themselves, especially those on the margins of life. She feels bad when others are left out and her natural instinct is to include them. This is one of the lovely qualities that I see in her that makes her special."
Kathryn sees herself going into a helping profession as a career, perhaps becoming a teacher, as she loves being around children. She currently babysits and is in demand for her services in her neighborhood. In addition, she is on a softball team and plays the sax in her junior high jazz band.
When asked to name some of the difficulties young people her age experience, Kathryn discusses the challenges in having so many options and how overwhelming it is to make choices from the realm of possibilities.
She also comments on friendships and fitting in at junior high. "I think your friends change when you go from elementary school to junior high because you are going from a small situation to a bigger one, with more people. Everyone wants to fit in and find a group they can be part of and sometimes kids just wander because they don't know what they want or where they fit in. Everyone's trying to find themselves."
Tim concurs and equates the situation as "wandering in the wilderness." He says, "The kids at this age are really trying to find a center and security. They really need a support structure because they are experiencing life overload."
Kathryn knows how fortunate she is to have a father who can help her negotiate through those challenging times in her life and offer guidance when needed.