Posted by: chlost | May 23, 2011

Father and son

Our oldest son owns a duplex. He lives in the top floor unit and rents out the bottom unit. This is part of his life plan. The rent covers a large portion of his mortgage. The plan is that he is saving money to eventually buy another home, perhaps another duplex, and work his way toward financial independence.

Not a bad plan. Certainly more  of a plan than we ever had.

Owning a duplex, however, comes with a responsibility to maintain it. This is a home which was built in approximately 1890. It is a big job to keep it up. As a duplex, there are higher requirements to maintain the home to code.

My husband has always been a do-it-yourself guy when it comes to home maintenance and improvements. There was a show on HGTV not too long ago about DIY disasters. We could have been on that show for some of the projects. Overall, though, he knows a lot and does a good job. But he always was the boss of the job. He would do things himself. The kids were usually not part of the project-I was the one handing over the correct tool, holding the measuring tape, or helping him think through the problems he encountered. Not the kids. They weren’t interested, and he was impatient with them.

Yesterday, our son took on a project by himself to demolish an old and crumbling concrete stairway and rebuild wood stairs to his front door. He had purchased all of the supplies. He had researched the code requirements. He had checked on the internet websites for the tips and tricks to do the job right.

My husband had to work yesterday, so I went to our son’s house to help out. I figured he would need someone to hand him things, hold things, and be the go-fer. It took him almost all afternoon to demolish the old stairs. Sledgehammer vs. concrete. They just don’t make them like that anymore.

My role was similar to that with my husband on our projects. I kept him company. I handed things to him.  My son and I  tried to figure out the logistics to correctly place the steps. Three steps or four? Flush to the underside of the front deck or build it out? Pour a concrete extension of the sidewalk or not?

I really wasn’t much help.

Finally, my husband came over after work. The two of them had it figured out quickly, and for the most part, the steps were built in just a short time. There is still some finishing that they will do tonight after work.

The thing that struck me was how well they worked together. Father and son. My husband had a little trouble stepping back and letting our son be the “boss” of the project. His first instinct is to do it himself. But he was great. Our son did most of the project himself, with two parental “supervisors”.

It was impressive. They were a team. They seemed to understand each other almost implicitly. No impatience, no disagreements.  I watched them work together and felt almost jealous.

How does that kind of relationship happen?



  1. That’s a nice story. I remember bonding with my own father over projects. Although I was never very handy, there is something special about doing something with your father, something that does not come out through conversation.

  2. It happened because you and your husband were great parents!!!

  3. Very thoughtful of your hubby to relinquish the “boss” attitude. Many men just can’t do that.

    • He did well at that. I know it was hard.

  4. Your son is really ahead of the game. My wife and I would NOT be retired today were it not for our real estate investments. And much of that gain is because I was able to do much of the work myself on our properties. Your son should learn about “IRS 1031 property exchanges” where you can sell using equity in your investment property and upgrade to better (and more income-producing) properties without paying capital gains tax on the investment. We did this several times where we bought increasingly more valuable properties, newer and needing less maintenance.

    Great that father and son can work together. I think having a shared experience and goal, learning from father to son, all that is significant.

    • Thanks for the info, Robert. I know that he is working with an accountant for his “business” management and has some plans in the works. I hope he is able to make it all work out.

  5. Sometimes people just click in terms of teamwork. How great that it is true for your son and his Dad.

    • I am so glad that this has continued into our children’s adulthood.

  6. I just finished reading all the posts your published while I was away. Congratulations on the birth of your new grandchild. I hope your weather has improved – we left when there were tornadoes and came back to the same pattern. My father loved to do things around the house and was good at it, but my husband is not. Building stairs sound like a big job to me – your husband and son make a great team. Thanks for coming to my blog while I was gone.

    • Thanks for coming by the blog. The tornadoes are still coming. The weather is still pretty crummy. I’m impressed my son and husband can do something like build stairs. Not me.

  7. Fascinating stuff. Thanks for the great moments.

    • Thanks for stopping in.

  8. This post is touching. It is just another example of how parent/child relationships continue to shift forever.

    I pray that my husband and sons have that kind of relationship when they become adults. It’s hard for my husband because he is a child of divorce and is not close with his dad (who is an alcoholic.) Thankfully, my husband is a good father in spite of it all.

    Oh, I think I’d feel a bit left out, too 😉

    • Yes, and then, as the picture book tells us, they will someday be caring for us. Scary stuff. My guess is that your husband is a good dad because you are a good mom and you work together at parenting.

  9. Honey, I just love this post. I had a movie in my head of the whole thing, flashbacks and all. So well written and such a sweet, honest thing.

    I could wax all psychologist and talk about frontal lobes and left brains and the debunking of the differences between male and female brains and the debunking of the debunking.

    Instead, I’ll just smile in pleasure and wonder with you at the rightness of it all.

    • Thank you! I would love to hear some psychological waxing sometime. But I am glad I made you smile with me.

  10. How lovely to witness the bonding! Mothers and daughters often manage it right but it seems harder for some sons and dads: so pleased that it is working out here.

    • Thanks. My husband has always had a good bond with our kids.

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