2018-06-14 / Sports


Happy Father’s Day
By Mike Wilson
Sports Reporter • mwilson@mihomepaper

Mike Wilson Mike Wilson One of the most influential books I ever read, I read during my senior year in high school. It was written by Royal Oak’s 44th district court judge, Keith Leenhouts and titled “A Father, A Son, A Three Mile Run.” Judge Leenhouts wrote the story of his relationship with his oldest son, Bill, who had learning disabilities and how cross country brought them closer together.

Judge Leenhouts recognized his son’s learning disabilities and dedicated himself to helping his son learn and achieve. The judge even took a leave of absence from the bench to work with his son and not only did Bill place 4th at the Class A State Championships in 1972, but he went on to graduate from high school, college and became a successful high school teacher.

It was from reading this book that I realized what a good father looked like. I learned that a father is very much (or should be) a family coach. Someone who not only teaches, but comes alongside, encourages, teaches discipline and leads by example. Until then, I thought the role of a father was to be harsh and whip kids into shape - I have physical scars from my father’s fathering techniques.

Years later, I was able to meet Judge Leenhouts while I was working as the chaplain at Teen Ranch, a juvenile residential program here in the Thumb, and we became friends. He became a mentor - a coach to me as I worked with young people who were in trouble. He taught me about patience and how to network with communities to help these young people as they returned to their communities. Judge Leenhouts, in addition to this book, became internationally known for his program of enlisting volunteer mentors to work with those being released from jails and prisons. There are thousands of men and women today who are living fruitful, productive lives because of his mentor program. Courts all over the world still implement his program in their systems. This program came into being because a dad took the time, did what needed to be done - made huge sacrifices to help a struggling child.

So, if you’re still trying to figure out what to get dad for Father’s Day, think about getting him this book, it is available on Amazon or, if dad is not much of a reader, then order him the movie of the same name that is based on the book.

Dads, this Father’s Day, take a few minutes to reflect on what it means to be a dad. Think about how best to coach your kids, to come alongside them and encourage them and build them up. One of the saddest statistics I think I’ve ever read was a Barna Group survey that found that the average American teenager receives less than 15 seconds of positive communication from their father each day! So, dads, think about that the next time you are barking out commands from them to clean their room, take out the trash, do their homework or mow the lawn, to stop and be a good coach, offer some encouragement and get the most from your kids.

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