by Sunny Simon

As I was completing my last coaching session of the week, I cheerfully wished my client a Happy Father’s Day. Unknowingly I had figuratively stepped on a land mine. After a long and lengthily sign he scoffed telling me his dream day included a juicy steak and a nap in hammock situated somewhere in a breezy leafy green. Ivan then explained due to the dynamics of a modern blended family, the special day America sets aside to honor dads would find him shuttling around town from one clan gathering to another. He feared the menu of the day would consist of hot dogs, overtired and cranky children and a significant amount of windshield time.

Described like that, it sounded like penance. I did a mental eye roll. He was a hard working guy and certainly deserved a long lounge in the hammock and a prime porterhouse. My job, however, was not to offer condolences but to use this as an opportunity for a coaching moment.

Based on Ivan’s tone I knew he would approach the undesirable plans with a “grin and bear it” attitude. Certainly, the act of enduring an event by faking good humor is one approach to get him through the day. A more positive method of dealing with any unwanted situation is to put some sincere effort into reframing it. Knowing Ivan is a family man who truly loves his wife and kids gave me something to work with. I suggested that car rides can be fun if some simple planning went into it.


Involving the children in a road trip game, planning silly joke or singing contests laced with mandatory short bouts of quiet time as the children mentally prepared for the next challenge or resorted to downtime with their kiddy electronics could make the excursion enjoyable. Ivan and his wife might entertain the troops regaling stories of their youth. Kids might find it fascinating to learn before the birth of the Leapfrog Leappad, MP3 players and radio controlled robots their parents entertained themselves with a Rubik cubes, hula hoops or a game of dodge ball.

My client began to get the idea and started to warm up to the subject. A small smile lingered on his face as he reflected on his coveted Matchbox car collection. He added some of his own ideas to make the car ride fun.

I still wanted to see him get that steak so I recommended getting a sitter and planning a date night with his wife during the week. As my dear old dad would have proclaimed, now we were cooking with gas.

Sunny Simon is the owner of Raise the Bar High Life and Career Coaching. More about Sunny at

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