Our 396th Dad in the Limelight is Larry Bernstein. I want to thank Larry for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing him with all of you.
1) Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers knowledge)
My name is Larry Bernstein.
I’m a freelance writer, teacher and blogger. I am staring my 11th year as a high school English teacher at an inner city high school in Brooklyn, NY. The job is very challenging but can be rewarding as well.
The freelance writing is relatively new but I have already had some successes. It grew out of my role as a blogger. I have been blogging for over two years.
I am also a sports nut, love Springsteen, think that Peanut Butter should be a separate food group and am very involved with my religious beliefs.
2) Tell me about your family
I am originally from Philadelphia and still have a lot of family in that area.
I moved to the New York area in my mid-20’s. My wife and I met were set up by mutual friends while we both lived in Manhattan. We have been married for close to 12 years.
We have two boys ages 9 and 7. We live in North Jersey.
3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
To pick one is hard and I am not sure if I would give the same answer tomorrow that I am giving today. That being said one large challenge is recognizing the limitations of what I can do for my children. I can want something to happen, but ultimately, there are some things that they must do for themselves. Also, recognizing that line and knowing when to step back can be challenging for me as well.
My older son is going through a situation now. My wife and I have done a great deal to try and support him and put him in a position to succeed. We have to recognize that we have done what we can do and now need to let the situation play out. If we need to get further involved, we will do so.
4) What advice would you give to other fathers?
Enjoy and appreciate your children. They’ll frustrate, annoy, and anger you at times. But ultimately, you should enjoy them at every stage. My kids are still young but I already feel nostalgic for when they were toddlers, but I also am enjoying where they are now.
I also would advise other fathers to remember that your child looks at you as a role model. He/she takes cues from both parents. It’s important to recognize that and behave accordingly. You have an amazing job that only you can fulfill.
5) Seeing that you (or your position) are in the limelight, how have you come to balance parenthood and outside life? If you are currently not in the limelight per se, please still answer this in regards to how you balance parenthood and outside life.
Balancing parenthood and outside life is a real challenge for me. I want to be there for my children and enjoy spending time with them. Yet, it’s easy to lose yourself in the role of parent and forget about the “I.”
I think there are times when you need to be selfish and take times for yourself. Ultimately, I believe this makes me better in both roles.
6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
Interesting question. I remember having a conversation with a colleague a few years back. We have little in common including the fact that his children are much older.
Anyway, I was lamenting something about my kids and I was disappointed about something. He just kept saying, “they’re your kids man.” His point being that I might not be happy with something about my children but I need to appreciate them, respect them, and know that they are always mine.
7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
Fatherhood has taught me about a love that I have inside of me that I knew I was capable of. As much as my boys can annoy me, it amazes me how much I love them. The depth of it is almost scary.
Just this morning, I was talking to my mother. I said that I feel more for my kids than they feel for themselves.
8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
Wow, I don’t know. I suppose it is too cliché and simple to say seeing my boys arrive in this world and holding them for the first time.
Instead of one huge moment, I have so many smaller moments.
For example, Nearly two weeks ago, my older son earned a yellow belt in karate. To see him feeling so proud of himself and happy was amazing. I was happy the whole day and it still makes me smile.
Yesterday was my younger son’s birthday. His anticipation for his birthday party and ultimate joy with the party is something I hope to remember for a long time.
A few years ago my family and I had a particularly memorable start to our vacation. We have been going with our extended family to Ocean City, New Jersey for years now. Anyway, it was a grey rainy day. The boys almost refused to see this and when we arrived at the beach town, they were ready to go to the beach. However, we couldn’t and the boys reluctantly accepted this. Well, around 5 or so, the rain stopped, the clouds thinned out and the sun shone through. So, we decided to go for a walk on the beach. When we got there, the boys threw off their sandals and went crazy – just running and jumping. You know little boy sort of things.
What made this so memorable was the pure enthusiasm and joy they explained. I don’t think I will ever forget this.
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If you have any questions for Larry, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!