Be kind to each other
During an interview with producer extraordinaire Rick Rubin, for the Broken Record podcast from Pushkin Industries, Ozzy Osbourne described how the greatest gift he ever received came from his father. Unfortunately, that gift is also the source of his greatest regret.
A Gift and a Regret
At the age of 71 and having recently released a new album, Ozzy told Rick,1
Someone once said to me, “Ozzy, what’s the best gift you’ve had?” I’m thinking, “[my wife] Sharon bought me a watch.” And then it hit me: Had my father not bought me a microphone, I wouldn’t be here [with this level of success]. My father bought me a PA —went into debt for it— and bought me a microphone. And that got me gigs. I never repaid him because I was so ego’d out [thinking to myself], “I’m the king of the world!”, for ten years. Then he passed away.
Even though his father had been generous, giving his son a gift that was quite a sacrifice for him, Ozzy did not appreciate the gift. I can imagine this may have felt to his father like a slap in the face.
When Ozzy later smartened up and reflected on this situation, perhaps after becoming a father himself, it was only then he realised the damage he had caused to himself by treating his relationship with his father so poorly.
With my own son, I can see a similar danger we face in our relationship.
My son can be quite stubborn —I blame his mother! 😁
I will try to offer him some advice —whether on basketball, girls, homework, etc— but he is prone to assume I am criticising him. While certainly not my intention, that appears to be his natural tendency.
When he feels he is being criticised, my son will walk away and isolate himself. This may be to his room or to his mobile device. Either way, he shuts down. Who can blame him? No one likes being criticised!
However, I am not criticising him. As his father, I am trying to offer advice.
For both of us, our basic natures are being challenged: his stubbornness is preventing me from being his father and is preventing him from being my son. We are both hurt in the lack of exchange.
Thankfully, my son’s stubbornness does not last. To his credit, taking the time to reflect, he realises his error. He returns to me some time later, apologising for his reaction and for not listening. I am in awe of his humility and maturity, as we are given the opportunity to reconcile. Not taking advantage of this opportunity could be disastrous for both of us.
Fatherhood Comes Naturally
It seems to me fatherhood is in the nature of men and, no, I don’t just mean biologically! We may balk at the role initially, when we are young and stupid and carefree, desiring to ‘sow our wild oats’, as it were. Yet, we adopt the role of fatherhood naturally once we have responsibility for a boy.
This natural response is seen in the character of Din Djarin, played by Pedro Pascal on the Disney+ web television series Star Wars: The Mandalorian. Din is the lead character, a lone gunfighter and bounty hunter, tasked with finding “the child” by an ex-Imperial officer. While allegedly 50 years of age and of the same unnamed species as Yoda, the child presents as a toddler. Din finds the child but chooses to protect him, especially when it is targeted by other bounty hunters.
Over the course of the first season, the bounty hunter becomes the child’s de facto father, as they form “a clan of two”. And this even despite the fact they are from completely different races. Named ‘baby Yoda’ by fans of the show, the character is just sooo cute. Who wouldn’t want to care for and protect it at all costs? ⚔️
Men may fear fatherhood but it is our natural tendency. So important to us it is that it can go horribly wrong.
Ozzy deeply regretted not thanking his father for his greatest gift. Listening to the interview, as he recounts the chaos and addiction in his life, you won’t help but wonder with me how much more confidently would Ozzy have approached his adulthood and his career had he thanked his father when he should have.
If my son did not return to me with an apology, our relationship would be strained. Repeated instances would result in a breakdown, damaging irreparably both me as father and he as son. The combined effect of our stubbornness would prevent us from saying what needs to be said, when it needs to be said and not later.
Ozzy shared another powerful story that illustrates my point. Despite the regret of not thanking his father, Ozzy went to visit him as he lay dying. He would have done so with trepidation because Ozzy had just left the band Black Sabbath and quit as their lead singer (he would be fired not soon after this). What son wants to admit to his dad he is a failure?
Instead of berating his son, Ozzy’s dad instead said to him, “They’re finished!” The implication being the band couldn’t possibly remain successful without Ozzy as their singer —which turned out to be the case.
What a vote of confidence this would have given Ozzy, to know his father believed in him and would support him entirely. He was Ozzy’s greatest and most important fan! And this even though he never thanked his dad for the microphone.
Be Kind to Each Other
Ozzy’s father could easily have damaged his son’s already broken spirit, but chose instead to offer a great kindness.
Fathers and sons need each other desperately, more than they realise and are willing to admit. Dads affirm their boys and provide them a road-map to manhood2 … or they don’t, instead setting them on a course toward failure and implosion. Boys affirm their fathers in their manhood by letting him tell his story and share his wisdom.
My advice to fathers and sons is be kind to each other:
- Son, let your father share his story; father, don’t assume your situation was exactly the same as your son’s
- Son, let your father share his wisdom, even if is doesn’t seem quite right; father, don’t force your views on your son but share gently the hard-fought lessons you’ve learnt
- Son, go with your father on the adventures he suggests; fathers, find out what are your son’s interests, without assuming his are the same as yours
- Son, be willing to learn; father, don’t talk down to him
- Son, listen; father, listen
This is not brain surgery guys! We need each other; let’s not pretend otherwise. Be kind to one another.