Friday, November 19, 2010

Upbeat Dad of the Week: Melvin Thompson!

Melvin Thompson and daughter
Last week Friday was our inaugural Upbeat Dad of the Week spotlight. We began this feature to highlight the dads who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to be there for their kids. Would you believe that that post was the second most read one in our brief history  – second only to The Story Behind the Upbeat Dad?
This feature has struck a chord and I believe it’s because it’s a big encouragement to each of us to learn of the practical application of the concepts that I write about each day. Too often we hear of the fathers who aren’t there for their kids. On The Upbeat Dad we like to applaud those who put their love into action by being great dads.
This week’s Upbeat Dad of the Week spotlight is about someone whom I have come to know recently. We correspond periodically on my personal Facebook page where we comment on each other’s posts and on the posts of mutual friends. Since the launch of The Upbeat Dad, I have learned that he’s not only a single dad but that his story is a powerful one. I trust that you would be moved by it as much as I have.
Our Upbeat Dad of the Week is Melvin Thompson (pictured above with his 16 year old daughter). He is a single father of 3 daughters – 23 year old twins and a 16 year old. He was not always a single dad but life has a way of throwing us lemons - and faced with his lemons, instead of dwelling on the bitter taste, he opted to make lemonade. Here’s the story:
Originally from Jamaica, Melvin is a Manager Trainer for Retail Companies. He is also Certified Tax Preparer and Real Estate Agent.  10 years ago, he was a happily married husband and father with a young family living in New York. In a moment, that all changed. In November 2000, his wife was killed in her native country, the Dominican Republic. That certainly was a curveball thrown into the midst of the life of a growing family.
This tragedy marked the beginning of a new phase in his life – from happily married with 3 wonderful daughters to a young widower with a hurting heart. But as they say on Broadway, the show must go on. His daughters were in school and needed continued guidance. Raising 3 girls can be a bit much and given that situation, many loving fathers would see the task so great that they would have had the girls go to live with other relatives, while continuing to love and support them. But Melvin embraced this new role of being a single dad and was willing to do everything to make it work.
He was always a provider. Now he had to learn to do some of the things he had taken for granted before since he and his wife were partners in raising the girls. He had to learn to do the girls’ hair and ensure things in the home were done. He became more involved in roles such as going to PTA meetings and school activities, scheduling them around work. He says, “Growing up in Christiana, Jamaica, in an atmosphere that fostered the importance of education and personal responsibility helped me in giving my girls the guidance they needed and continue to need.”
So he emphasized personal responsibility and education as the key to helping his young girls to become successful. His favorite quotes are:
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” - Ghandi
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”  - Ziglar
He worked early mornings so getting the girls off to school was a challenge. His in-laws, with whom he is still close to this day, helped during this phase. His in-laws don’t speak much English so there was a language barrier. But his daughters are bilingual, so they helped greatly in the communication.
Melvin’s persistence has paid off! Today his twins are graduate students in England and doing quite well. His youngest is in high school and is also excelling while preparing for college. She scored a 1690 on the SAT exams. That’s an exceptionally high score!
His daughters’ lives are guided by the principles that he has instilled in them. Their mother was warm, loving and wonderful and also instilled great values into them. But since November 2000, he has had to take the reins at a level greater than he did before.
One of Melvin’s more exceptional qualities is that he believes in touching the lives of others – not simply his own children. He is currently completing certification classes to become a Youth and Substance Abuse Counselor. So his kids as well as others benefit from his exemplary life.
His advice for fathers in similar situations to his is, “Be honest with your kids. Yes, there are times when they think they have all the answers. That becomes challenging, however, if you are honest with them, especially when dealing with "peer pressure" it helps them to make the right decisions. Secondly, trust them - let them know that you believe they will do the right thing. Third, emphasize the importance of education. This will help them become productive, responsible citizens and last but not least, spend time with them - go to movies, walks, parks, school functions and activities, for in doing so, you develop that bond with them that tells them you care and solidifies the trust factor. The little time we spend with them now, is what they'll always remember.” Wow! There are no words for me to add here. I could not have said it better!
Please join me in recognizing Melvin Thompson as the Upbeat Dad of the Week. His story is inspiring in so many ways. Regardless of your current situation, I trust that you would embrace the life-lessons in his story. The obstacles that life puts in our way are only there to make us stronger and more effective. His daughters are the better for this experience and his life has even greater meaning and effectiveness. I applaud him, on behalf of the readers, for being a good example and an Upbeat Dad!
If you would like to nominate your husband, dad, granddad, friend, relative or even yourself for this weekly feature, please do so by emailing us at: . Tell us of the person’s story and the exceptional qualities that make him an Upbeat Dad.

Have a great weekend!
The Upbeat Dad

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