How Not to Be a Foolish Father

6 Responsibilities of Dynamic Dads

Your faults as a son, are my failures as a father. These are the remorseful words of Marcus Aurelius to his son, Commodus, in the movie Gladiator, when he realized that he had not done an adequate job preparing him to be emperor. I think these should have been the words of Dan Turner to his son, ex-Stanford University swimmer, Brock Turner after he assaulted and raped a woman in 2015.  But, his words were far from remorseful and repentant. They were foolish, absurd, ridiculous, asinine.

Ex-Stanford University swimmer, Brock Turner, 20, was convicted in March of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person. After sixteen months of trial and testimony, he was sentenced to six months in jail. It was felony rape, and all he received was a slap on the wrist. I don’t care how you look at it, the sentence falls embarrassingly short of the crime committed. Though he had no prior record or any kind of violent crime, it was rape, a violent crime. My friends, this is what you call privilege – racial, economic and educational. His attorney used each privilege to convince the judge to be lenient. People are outraged that a judge would be so blind. In fact, an online petition was started to remove the judge from his position. At this writing, more than 400,000 people have signed the petition, protesting his decision and lobbying for his removal.

The woman wrote an emotional and compelling letter, staging her own protest against the judge’s decision and Mr. Brock Turner. She read it to Turner, addressing him directly. It is powerful, riveting and raw. If you have older sons, you should let them read it or read it to them. Here is an excerpt from her letter:

You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today. … I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it.

Now, though she used poor judgment in consuming too much alcohol (which she admits), it did not give Mr. Turner the right to assault her. Rape her. Traumatize her. There is no excuse for his actions.

To add insult to injury, father of Brock Turner, wrote a letter decrying his son’s jail sentence because he said his 20-year-old son has already suffered enough.

As it stands now, Brock’s life has been deeply altered forever by the events of Jan. 17th and 18th. He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile. His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear and depression. You can see this in his face, the way he walks, his weakened voice, his lack of appetite.”

Dan Turner argued that Brock’s loss of appetite and a swimming scholarship is punishment enough:

Brock always enjoyed certain types of food and is a very good cook himself. I was always excited to buy him a big ribeye steak to grill or to get his favorite snack for him. I had to make sure to hide some of my favorite pretzels or chips because I knew they wouldn’t be around long after Brock walked in from a long swim practice. Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist. These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life. The fact that he now has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work, and how he will be able to interact with people and organizations. What I know as his father is that incarceration is not the appropriate punishment for Brock. He has no prior criminal history and has never been violent to anyone including his actions on the night of Jan 17th 2015. Brock can do so many positive things as a contributor to society and is totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity. By having people like Brock educate others on college campuses is how society can begin to break the cycle of binge drinking and its unfortunate results. Probation is the best answer for Brock in this situation and allows him to give back to society in a net positive way.

I am so sorry that Brock can’t eat steak, pretzels, and his favorite chips anymore. I know Dan Turner loves his son, but for him to make such a tone-deaf plea for leniency shows that he, obviously, lacks the self-awareness of an emotionally healthy individual. If this father had done his job in raising his son to be a man, Brock would have used the twenty minutes to do something more constructive: walked this woman home, protected her from predators, or called someone to pick her up and waited with her. In my humble and passionate opinion, I think the father should be sentenced to jail for writing such a ridiculously asinine letter. He should tell his son and the public what Marcus Aurelius told Commodus in the movie Gladiator: 

Your faults as a son, are my failures as a father.

In his letter, the father never mentioned the pain of the victim. He never apologized for the irreparable hurt his son caused this woman. This is tragically unacceptable. Her lack of wisdom and judgment in drinking too much was no free pass to rape her. Mr. Turner should have written an apology letter to the victim and offered to pay for the counseling she continues to receive. Instead of revealing his lack of awareness, he could have used that energy to show compassion.

It’s tough being a father, but the difficulty of fatherhood doesn’t give us a hall pass to act foolishly.

 This story reminded me of our responsibilities as fathers to our children, especially our sons.

Fathers, let’s teach our sons to honor and respect women. To treat women as beautiful and precious. To protect every woman like he should and would protect his sisters. To treat her as somebody’s future wife. To refuse to objectify, dominate, dishonor and abuse. These are our mothers. Our sisters. Our wives. Our queens.

Let’s teach our girls to be strong, courageous, to respect themselves and demand respect from others, especially men, to make wise social choices, and to help and protect one another.

May we continue to raise our children in such a way that we will increase our chances of them being joy and not sorrow to us.

What are some other responsibilities that parents, especially fathers, have to their children?

See also:

21 Common Ways Children Dishonor Their Parents  

18 Common Ways Parents Provoke Their Children to Anger 

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  • Ayla

    I wrote a post last night in response to this case; but from the perspective of a rape survivor. The aspect of the story that you addressed in your post wasn’t something I was able to do in mine given the trajectory of it. So very grateful that you did. I pray those that read your post today are prompted to action concerning this issue; be it in their own homes or otherwise. God bless you.

  • Promise Keeper

    A wiser man than me once told me that raising a family is like planting and tending to a field. If you plow the land, fertilize it, plant good quality seeds, weed and water it frequently, you will mostly (but not always) grow a fine crop. If don’t prepare the soil and scatter seeds haphazardly and don’t tend to your charge, you’ll be lucky to grow weeds. Based on his letter, this man grew what we see before us – a 20 year-old who is still a boy and will likely to remain that way until a real man grows into his life. We can only pray that God will help that to happen.

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