An Unexpected Tie to My Father (Keith Zafren)

BTAboutThemIt didn’t seem like a big thing. And it certainly wasn’t planned. But suddenly there we were, at the center of the Guess Factory Outlet Store in Cabazon in Palm Springs, and I was giving my fifteen-year-old son his first lesson in how to tie a tie.

Dad Cal Tieing Tie 1He was adorable—fully enjoying getting dressed up, trying on new, fancy jeans, and a stylish, gray silk shirt. Then he asked about a thin black tie, but he had no idea how to form the knot. Amidst a store filled with busy shoppers, though unaware of the world around us, I stood behind him and tied his tie, talking him through each simple loop and cinch.

I suddenly felt transported in time when forty years earlier my own dad taught me the Windsor knot for the first time, with a fat, flower-patterned tie. My dad was standing behind me, when he was still taller than I was, and I stood in my son’s place, feeling like a little man, so proud to be learning such a grown up necessity from my father.

As my mind came back to the present moment, I wondered if my son felt the wonder I had during this unexpected rite of passage. I also wondered if my dad felt the kind of pride in me that was spilling over in my heart for my son. My dad wasn’t good at expressing such things. And though there aren’t many things I remember as gifts from my dad, this memory was a surprisingly pleasant one. It was a gift I was now passing down to my son.

I wonder how (or if) my boy will remember this moment the first time he ties a tie for his teenage son one day.

Have You Done This With Your Son Yet?

Close relationships with your kids that you and they will enjoy and that last a lifetime do not happen by chance. They are planted as seeds early on, nurtured throughout their lives, and carefully managed when your kids need a father’s guidance and love. I’ve coached and taught hundreds of dads how to do this (not tie a tie, but how to be a great dad). I’m here to help you if you want help. The easy-to-master and highly effective fathering skill set I teach works wonders for busy dads, married or not, who want to be great dads. Check out my FREE training videos for more.

In fact, just yesterday I received an email from a man who is working to be a better dad. About my free video training and the fathering skill set I teach (Affirmation, Acceptance, and Affection) he wrote:

Much thanks for the videos. It has spurred me to be a better dad. I struggle to be a great dad because I never got one of the A’s as I grew up, not even one. I have to force myself with my children to be a good dad.

After reading your book a year ago I decided to go to a therapist based on you recommending such in the book. It took me three tries to find a good therapist and I just finished a session tonight. We are going deep into the father wound and it’s helping. Right now I have to force the A’s out with my 11-year-old boy who needs it the most and has a similar nature as me.

When I was reading your book last year, my 8-year-old daughter saw it and said, “but you already are a great dad,” which was nice to here. Right now I feel like a decent dad, but want to be a great dad. When I do delivery on one of the A’s I get a good response. My wife has watched some of the videos with me so we are both working on being better. Thank you again, I will watch the videos over and over and keep going to therapy. Also your book sits by my bed and I read parts of it over again to keep me motivated as my children fall asleep for the night. Hopefully, one day I will feel like a man and be a great dad. Thank You.”

If you’d like a little video instruction on how to tie a tie, here’s a YouTube video that teaches you: How to Tie a Windsor knot.

Great Dads Shape Great Kids.
Be a Great Dad Today.


KZafrenphotoKeith Zafren is the founder of The Great Dads Project and author of the award-winning book, How to Be a Great Dad—No Matter What Kind of Father You Had.
Men who want to be great dads love the stories Keith Zafren tells, the practical skills he teaches, and the personal coaching he offers. Keith has spent seventeen years learning firsthand how to raise three great teenagers and stay close to them, no matter what. He coaches busy dads not to repeat the mistakes their fathers made, but instead, to create fantastic relationships with their kids.


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