Grads and Dads: Reflections from an Old Father and Lawyer
We are so grateful that she and her classmates were able to have an unmasked celebration complete with unrestricted hugs and high fives.
On June 17, 2021, the last of our four children graduated from Eastern Regional High School located in Voorhees Township, New Jersey. We are so grateful that she and her classmates were able to have an unmasked celebration complete with unrestricted hugs and high fives. The weather was just perfect and, at 62 years old, this old dad, family lawyer, and education lawyer, could not help but both savor the moments and appreciate the significance of what, in any other year, might have just been another high school graduation. This commencement ceremony felt historic because of not only what our awesome daughter had accomplished over the last four years of her life, but also because of the different perspectives resulting from living through the year that was, the life “successes” of now having raised four “adult” children, and my own personal maturation as both a father and a lawyer.
Our son graduated from Eastern Regional High School back in 2007 and both the World and his/her father/lawyer were very different back then. Much like a veteran athlete and/or otherwise experienced professional whose has tried to do “the right thing” over time, my life has thankfully become slower and easier for me. The last of our four children will be leaving home this September; her older brother is 33 years old and, as such, my wife and I will have had at least one child living with us for over 33 years when we become “empty nesters” in September! Meanwhile, life’s unavoidable challenges have made me a more spiritual and emotional father and lawyer; and my faith has taken me in directions I could not have imagined back in 2007. I’ve come to learn that the single most important question to ask of myself at the end of each and every day has nothing to do with billable hours and/or prevailing in court; the single most important question that every lawyer, father, and human should be asking at the end of the day is: “how well did I love today”? The money, possessions, and worldly recognitions that were so important to me when I was younger have come because I’ve learned to get past my ego-driven pursuits and simply focus on helping the person I’m with at any particular moment, at home, work or play, by actively listening and, when called upon to do so, by providing that person with compassionate advice fueled by love and concern for that person.
I’ve learned to simply focus on helping the person I’m with at any particular moment, at home, work or play, by actively listening and, when called upon to do so, by providing that person with compassionate advice fueled by love and concern for that person.
This axiom was demonstrated in real life as I visited with and observed the graduates and their families on June 17, 2021. The changes that I observed in the children and families from preschool to high school graduation were on full display that day. The couples who were able to stay married and/or who were able to divorce in a child-centered way were able to jointly experience this joyous event together. Those parents, graduates, and family members who had forgotten to “love well that day” missed out on “the moments of life” that I cherished now more than ever.
I was also blessed that day to see, in concrete ways, how our education laws have helped our students and teachers “love well”. Special needs students, disabled students, culturally diverse students, and students who back in my day would have been bullied simply for being “different” were celebrated instead of shunned. Issues of gay pride and mental illness were eloquently and courageously addressed by one of the students within his speech to the entire graduating class. The students in 2021 have become more tolerant and respectful of one another and that was on full display as this “child of the seventies” watched diversity be celebrated rather than feared and ridiculed.
We work to “solve problems” for our clients, to both save them money and facilitate their being able to still “love well” when their matter has been concluded.
Our laws do, accordingly, work for real people, real families, real teachers, and real students so long as lawyers and clients take the long view and remember the importance of “loving well” while demanding justice. We here at D&M work toward cost-effectively solving family law and/or education law problems without unnecessary litigation expenses and without fighting with the other parent and/or their child’s school district. While we’ll fight when necessary, we’d prefer to “solve problems” for our clients, to both save them money and facilitate our client’s being able to still “love well” when their matter has been concluded. Please call us for a free phone consultation if you have a family law or education law legal issue.