In today’s post you’re going to learn a little more about who I am and what I do. I typically shy away from this aspect of my life with the blog, but it has relevance this week and there is something specific I wanted to share with you.
I am a film / video director and editor by trade. My focus is primarily the music industry and documenting its stories. A couple of years ago a friend asked me to help her put together a film about a family singing group from the 1960’s known as the Cowsills. Working on the film would become a great focus of my time for two to three years and would change my views on life, parenthood, fatherhood and families in general.
Getting right to the point, despite his ability to recognize and encourage so much of the talent that oozed from his home, Bud Cowsill was an abusive father. He was incredulously manipulative and selfish. And his children, in turn, feared him to the point that they never spoke to each other about what went on within their household. Truth be told, they didn’t live their childhoods, in many ways they survived them. In building the story of “Family Band: The Cowsills Story” Louise and I both wanted people to see the whole story, not just the success and the ride to the top, but the crippling affect that Bud’s controlling and abusive nature would have on both their careers and their lives as adults. With the support of Bob Cowsill and the rest of the family, we were able to to do just that. Along with demonstrating the affects of abuse on a family, our goal was for the film to help families recognize the power of sibling bonds and that no matter how dark the past, a brighter future can be found through love, communication and forgiveness.
The story of the Cowsills, I’ve learned, is not an unfamiliar one. And all too often the story is shared long after the affects of abuse have become rooted in the minds and hearts of the abused. It is a stark reminder that people often project one persona for themselves and their family, when in truth their world is nothing like what people see. For many kids, they really have no idea that their life is any different from others and that the abuse they’re engaged in is normal. It’s not until they’re older that they realize, “hey, you mean most dads don’t assault their kids?”
For me personally, the story of the Cowsills is a wake up call to any father. Louise worked much closer with the family over the eight to nine years it took to capture all of the footage, and has a much broader appreciation for the relationships between the family members. But in the short time I got to work on the film the shear impact of the role that abuse played in the development of each kid is still deeply ingrained in my own head. It speaks volumes to the impact a dad can have on his children both good and bad. Whether or not you’re abusive to your children, how you interact with them and how you approach them over something as simple as putting their shoes away, can create a pattern that will define your relationship with them throughout their lives.
We as fathers have opportunities to provide our children with so many amazing gifts. How we decide to do that will greatly affect their hearts, minds and souls as they grow into adulthood. As I watch the finished film now and reflect on my own childhood as well as the first several years of my time as a father, it’s obvious to me that working on the film changed my life and how I view my fatherhood. It’s why I wanted to invite you to watch the film. While you do, ask yourself, “how will my kids view me ten, twenty, thirty or forty years from now?” If you’re like me, it may cause you to take a step back and adjust a few things and to see your children as even more fragile than you already do. It may cause you to recognize that we’re not just here to protect their bodies, but their minds as well.
I’ve said this before and it bares repeating. We are building our children’s memories, today. Each experience has the potential to be one that they look back on as a defining moment. It’s up to us to be aware of ourselves, our actions and our reactions knowing that one day our children will reflect and react in life based on those specific times and how we handled ourselves. What our children remember about their childhood is not 100% up to us. But as dads (and moms) we are held accountable for a great deal of it. I believe that regardless of the type of father you are today, there is always room for improvement. Working on the Cowsills film did two things for me. It told me overall I’m probably a better dad than I gave myself credit or. At the same time it showed me that every day I have an opportunity to improve.
“Family Band: The Cowsills Story” is currently airing on Showtime through the month of March and into April and is also available on Amazon.com. If you happen to watch it, I’d love to hear what you think so be sure to share your comments.