Our dog’s name is “Wilson.” Wilson is to me the best dog in the world. And if a dog is a man’s best friend, then Wilson is about the best friend I have ever had.
Wilson likes to go for walks. Wilson likes to listen. Wilson likes me the way I am.
Wilson never judges me. When I come home at night he greets me at the door, wags his tail, and licks my hand. Wilson is a good dog and my best friend.
We named our dog Wilson for two reasons. One, “Wilson” fits our family pattern of names ending in “on” – like Clayton, Aaron, and Jason. Second, Wilson is the name of the volleyball in the 2000 Tom Hanks epic adventure “Cast Away.” The movie is a great portrayal of how each of us needs a friend.
In the movie “Cast Away” Tom Hanks plays the role of a UPS executive whose business flight crashes into the ocean. Tom Hanks is the only survivor and becomes cast away on an uninhabited island. One of the items from the plane crash that washes up on the island is a Wilson brand volleyball.
In one scene Hanks injures his hand and is bleeding. Lashing out, Hanks hits the volleyball with his bloody palm. The bloody palm print forms what looks like a face on the volleyball. Hanks puzzles over the volleyball and the face. Hanks makes a new friend. His name is “Wilson.”
Wilson is a good friend to Hanks. Wilson listens. Wilson is always there.
Each passing day of isolation makes Hanks crazier and crazier. But Wilson accepts Hanks just the way he is. Wilson does not belittle Hanks or bully him. Wilson does not judge Hanks or anything like that. Wilson may not be real but he is a good friend.
As exciting and necessary as friendships are, they can also be difficult. A Good Dad will be there to patiently guide and coach his children. Friendships take kindness and understanding, energy and forgiveness. People are people -- not volleyballs. People are complex, demanding, and make mistakes.
As a Good Dad you have a good position to teach your children to be a good friend. Children need to be taught how to be a friend, how to listen, and how to be kind. You can speak honestly that bullying, discrimination, and unkind words are always unacceptable.
Everybody needs a good friend, someone who will listen, someone who will always be there, and someone who will accept you the way you are. I used to tell my children that if you see someone in the middle of the cafeteria they are not looking for a place to sit down. They are looking for someone to sit with. Help your child be the kind of person who welcomes others to his or her table.
Jeff Sippy, a Dad-In-Training, is the father of three young men and the husband of Cindy. He enjoys sailing every chance that he gets. He is the senior pastor at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Springfield, MO and can be reached for question or comment at email@example.com