The Influence of Fathers

Posted: April 2, 2016 in art, drawing, FAMILY, FATHER, HISTORIES, Indie Authors, perseverance, rejection, Truth
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A few weeks ago, I took part in a blog event, invited by friend, author and illustrator, Teresa Robeson, to show a retrospective of my art. In the process, I discovered old school projects. I was astonished to see the leaps I had taken in the presentation and effort that went into my projects over a number of years at school. The revelation gave some insight like a bird’s eye view on my younger years. I saw how I am who I am and how I am today because of striving to earn the approval of my father.

Take a moment to think about it, how did your father shape your life as a creative person?

We Three Kids10002

Growing up, I learned to work hard to win dad’s praise. On my school assignments I put in enormous effort, seeking to receive a pat on the back. Will he say, well done? I’d wonder. Dad would say, “There’s a spelling mistake.”

The praise flows from my father now that I’m grown. He’s a wonderful man. When I was growing up however, he felt his role was to teach, therefore, he had to point out whatever was incorrect so that I would learn.

And, I did! Sometimes, when I’d worked really hard on a piece and dad found flaws, I was disappointed, yes. But, it only served to fuel the desire to work longer to get to that “well done” moment. I used each failure in a positive way, to spur me to try harder on the next project.

The Pearl1

I began to think more deeply about answering the questions on school assignments. I began to pay more attention to my artwork and upgrading the layout.

The Pigman0002

Each project gained an A grade from my teacher, but dad would always find a flaw, no matter how small. I started writing original thoughts, and working harder on the illustrations. My school work and grades improved.

The Pearl2

Every beautiful essay I showed my father was picked apart. He didn’t mean to be unkind. Dad would have been wounded if he’d known how much it humbled me.

Nevertheless, each homework assignment, I put in more effort. I was learning major lessons in concentration.

The Pearl River Delta

The last project I did at junior school, before I moved on, and past the need to show my father everything I produced, was a book review.

I produced my review of, ‘A Commune on the Pearl River Delta,’ in a round format, with tissue paper glued in between each page. There were in all a dozen round pages with words and images, crafted in dense colour pencil and pen. It begins with the “tour guide,” Mr. John Know-it-all, introducing himself to the reader, and then, John leads the way through the review as if through the Pearl River Delta itself.

The Pearl River Delta1

It was a work of art. A triumph. The first time I ever got A++ What did my father say when I presented it to him? “China is spelt with a capital C.”

When my son was born, thirteen years ago, my parents came to meet their grandchild. I recall my father shaking my husband’s hand. Dad said, “Welcome to fatherhood!” It was such a poignant, sweet moment, like a passing of the baton, and a reassurance that the path ahead was worth walking. Dad has cherished his role as father. He was so happy for us to be starting a journey together as a family.

The Wateow, from 'The Colour Secret,' late teens

When I think back on my own childhood with my father, I could look at his withholding of praise as a negative. No, I don’t see it that way at all. I look at what it produced. By the time I started at high school, I was a creative ideas machine. I could crank out essays and artwork at the drop of a hat. I was always willing to put in the extra work. I’m still like that today. I believe my ability for perseverance came from my childhood strivings, therefore are directly attributable to my father’s influence.

Take a moment to think about it, how do the qualities which define you today relate directly to your father? It’s wonderful when you start to identify them.

papa bear and me

They say that we get the parents we need. They also say there are no mistakes. It makes sense to think that by viewing what we’ve been given in each of our unique circumstances, as being exactly the springboard we needed in our lives, that we enable ourselves to move forward to better things.

This week, my youngest son said to me confidently, “We get 25% from our fathers and 75% from our mothers.” Cute but wrong. We get DNA 50/50 from our parents. Our fathers are just as important as our mothers, and just as influential. How we use the paternal influence as we go forward, however, is up to us.

What do you think has been your father’s greatest influence on you? His legacy?


Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol


“When a child is born, a father is born.”― Frederick Buechner

“What we think, we become.” – Buddha


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  1. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    What a poignant post, Yvette. How cool to see your early artwork and how it progressed. Very cool book report, making the pages circle shaped. I like how your father passed the baton on to his son-in-law!

    My father didn’t scrutinize my school work. Neither did my mom. I learned humor from my dad and how to play games: card games, board games, sports. Our whole family played games together. There was always lots of joking and laughter, but get out of line, and our father’s booming voice put the fear of God in us.

    If we played partners in the card game Hearts, I never wanted to be Dad’s partner. He kept track of all the cards and expected his partner to be on top of things and never make a mistake. No fun! The board games were great fun when not playing partners. We played Clue, poker, Monopoly, and lots more. They started us out with Old Maid and even our grandparents joined it.

    Thanks for triggering those wonderful memories from my childhood, Yvette! Have a great weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Nice one, Lynnie, you painted a great picture. Our family is the same. We’ve played cards at every get-together since forever. Sometimes we play ferociously competitive games of scrabble. Our favourite family card games are Cribbage, Newmarket, and Euka. The wins are fiercely debated, too! A lot of laughs abound 🙂


  2. No one scrutinised my homework either. It was just left to be rubbish lol. I do remember him trying to help with math and used an old fashioned method it was no help at all in getting me to learn what to do. We all used to do well in sports and they never congratulated us. Same principal I guess. I love how your dad influenced you. Your projects are great.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Hi, Catherine!
      That was cute about your dad trying to help but his ways being too old fashioned. Aw!
      Yes, I guess it was the same principle. In their day, they didn’t believe in giving their kids ‘swelled heads.’ I’ve had a real thing about giving praise to my kids as a consequence, I think. Yet, I don’t want to go too overboard the other way either. It’s about finding the right balance. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad you didn’t feel hurt or dejected by your father’s scrutiny growing up. I think it helped to mold you into the perfectionist that you are though a weaker soul would have crumbled. That’s one amazing final project you did!

    My dad was busy working two jobs for a good portion of my youth so he wasn’t around much to check my homework. But since his English was/is not great, he would have been no help anyway. My parents expected good grades and since I brought those home, they didn’t nag. They were only hard on us when trying to teach us Chinese. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Gosh, your dad sounds like mine! Apparently, dad held down three jobs in our early years. What hard-working men!
      When I was little, I can remember being sad at times when dad rejected my schoolwork. But the thing is, I became a parent myself at the age of 16. Therefore, I quickly became apprised of how difficult parenting is, and it completely changed my view of my parents forever. I moved on from that point with new understanding. 🙂
      Was your family in the States when your folks were teaching you Chinese? I was trying to picture the scenario 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • We were living in Canada when I was growing up. 🙂 I didn’t become a parent until I was almost 32 and we took very different educational paths with our kids so I didn’t have the same kind of relationship school-wise with my kids.

        Liked by 1 person

      • yvettecarol says:

        Ah, you’ve probably told me before that you grew up in Canada but for some reason this is the first time that it’s sunk in. So, your parents were making sure you and your sister got the language right. I think it’s wonderful that they taught you the beautiful writing – I saw some of your handwritten letters in your early schoolwork in a blog post or Facebook post some time back. They gave you a great gift with their persistence.

        As to our own kids and their schoolwork, I was just telling Claremary in another comment about the shocking state of the schoolwork my eldest used to present to me. Just as well I didn’t choose the home-school route. I couldn’t have kept up the ruse of unmitigated support if I’d had to teach him his subjects as well! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • My parents wanted us to maintain our cultural heritage. 😊 It’s been fun learning or relearning along with the kids in homeschool, actually!


      • yvettecarol says:

        Yes, I can well understand how your parents felt. They were a long way from home, after all.

        One thing about home-school, I guess it keeps the grey matter working! 🙂 Apart from being great for the kids, too, of course.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. BunKaryudo says:

    I think the main thing I got from my father was a similar sense of humor. Incidentally, I’m very impressed with the quality of your homework. Mine was much less beautifully presented.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Hi, Bun! Ah, so this is where your impressive funny bones hail from. What a great influence. 🙂

      Thank you re the homework. I recall when my eldest son would bring his homework to show me. Unfortunately, he was – how should we put this delicately – a bit of a slob! His pages were always covered in sloppy writing, smudged bits, rubbed-out bits, crossed-out bits, and sometimes (horrors) the paper was even scrunched slightly! Boyo, I had my work cut out for me, coming up with positive things to say. He was a different person to me, and different things were important so I had to tread carefully so as not to dent his enthusiasm.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think you were perfect for each other and it really explains how you became such a talented adult. I loved getting an insight into your journey. Clare

    Liked by 1 person

  6. […] that I’d internalized my father’s demands for perfection in my work. In an earlier post, The Influence of Fathers, I related how my childhood strivings to get approval from my father had shaped in me the exact […]


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