Author addresses ‘fatherly values’ at NE Portland Rotary group

Find out what outer East Portland business people learned from a man who has made it his mission to champion the role of fathers in the home – and in society …

Author and speaker Bob Hazleton is greeted by Northeast Portland Rotary president Kevin “Not your ordinary bean-counter” Minkoff, CPA.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The guest speaker at the NE Portland Rotary Club meeting on January 26 didn’t come to talk about his “day job” – being a mechanical engineer at a Salem architectural firm.

Before the program, Bob Hazleton, author of the book “Dads Matter”, told us he’s concerned because fathers are often portrayed in commercials and TV shows and movies as a goofy, stupid character. “The guy’s made out to be an idiot.”

But, his life experiences – outside of his professional career – have shown him the importance of fathers in the home.

Hazleton says his exploration of fatherhood started when his middle child started acting out negative behaviors.

“It started with our middle child, Jesse,” Hazleton began is presentation.

“He was involved in drugs, alcohol, skipping school – and got into all kinds of trouble,” revealed Hazleton. “After two years of trying to help him on our own, we first sent him to a drug rehab center here in Gresham; it didn’t work.”

A month later, the family escorted Jesse to a program for troubled teens in Ensenada, Mexico. “This was an extremely trying time for everyone in our family. My beliefs about what kind of dad I had been were shaken to the core.”

This program addressed the family system, as well as the troubled teen, Hazleton explained. “If the young person was to be successful on his or her return home, everything at home – especially the family – must change. An integral part of this program is the use of personal growth seminars for both teens and their parents.”

A repeating theme Hazleton says he heard while facilitating seminars revolved around the significance of the father.

After attending several of these seminars, Hazleton said he volunteered to join a group that helped the facilitators and other parents. He took trainings and became certified as a life coach; then as an experiential trainer. “After a thirty-year career in mechanical engineering, I started working full time with at-risk teens as a seminar trainer myself.”

For nearly three years, Hazleton traveled the country a couple of weeks at a time conducting seminars. “No matter where I went, I kept hearing from teens how important their fathers were to them – even if they were abusive, or physically or emotionally absent.”

Written as an ‘emotional response’
Asked what led him to write the book “Dads Matter”, Hazleton replied, “Every time I hear somebody talk about their dads, something happened; I had emotional response. I just kept getting this message from teens who talked about missing their dads, or why dads were important in their life. I had this emotional response urging me to write this book.”

The book contains fifteen stories, the author said. “Some of my stories are mine, some are other people’s stories. They all illustrate how important fathers are.”

To the group of about twenty Rotary Club members and guests at the Refectory Restaurant, he said, “Behaviors follow beliefs. The circumstances in which we are raised affect how children act as adults. Look, the job of parents is to take an innocent child, who is to completely dependent on them – you get 18 years to get them to be a functioning, independent adult. That’s why there’s a chapter about what and how to teach your children.”

Although Hazleton says although he’s gone back to his profession, he hopes to continue spreading the message in “Dads Matter” by way of his book.

After his presentation, Hazleton said, “I thought my life would be dedicated to conducting seminars and getting out the word about how vitally important dads are. But then, the downturn in the economy hit. I’ve gone back to my bread-and-butter profession – but I speak wherever I can to spread this message.”

Find out more about Hazleton, and learn how you can get a copy of his book by visiting his website: CLICK HERE.

Discover NE Portland Rotary!
Northeast Portland Rotary Club meets for lunch every Tuesday at The Refectory Restaurant (use banquet room doors on the north side of the building) at 1618 NE 122nd Avenue. To learn more, visit their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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