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What My Father Means To Me Essay by: Teresa Ostrowski
Posted by : David Hirsch on June 13, 2013 - 10:38am

TEAMDAD partnered with University of Phoenix to conduct the 2103 Military Fatherhood Essay Contest in Okinawa, Japan.  Students were asked to write essays to the theme “What My Father Means To Me.”   In total more than 400 essays were collected from the children of servicemen stationed in Okinawa.  10 essay finalists and their dads were selected as winners.


Here is Teresa Ostrowski's Essay (Lester Middle School, 8th Grade).


One of the most important people in my life is my father, Colonel John A. Ostrowski.  He shares a very deep, faith-filled relationship with me that is a very important blessing in my life.  He is a very intelligent, good-hearted man who is outstanding for a variety of reasons. 


I admire my dad because even though he has a stressful job, he manages to make time to talk to my family about big decisions in our life.  Also, through everything that he goes through, my dad keeps a level-head and reasons logically before making decisions.  How he manages to stay so calm under stress, I will never understand.


Another special quality about my dad is that he is extremely good at staying strong and brave.  Recently his brother, Cmdr. Paul Ostrowski, passed away while battling Melanoma.  It has been really rough on my dad, but he has been stronger than I’ve ever seen anyone.  He looks at the positive side of every situation, like this one, and maintains a cheerful attitude.


The personal relationship I share with my dad is absolutely priceless.  My dad is always there for me and helps me be the best at what I do.  He dedicates his time to help me improve in my schoolwork and sports.  He has regular conversations with me about everything that’s going on in my life and makes corny jokes that bring a smile to my face.  I couldn’t ask for a better father and role model than him.


Here is John Ostrowski’s (Teresa’s Dad’s) Response:


I am very please that Teresa value our relationship.  She very important to me and I try to provide her with the guidance I think she needs to succeed in life.  I take every opportunity to share lessons in our Catholic faith so she grows in right relationship with God.  I also share my practical experience with her and relate them to this state of her life.  I realize from my own life that the “early teens” can be a very challenging time for young people, so I take advantage of teachable moments to help her contextualize events, thoughts, or emotions in her life so she can make better sense of her experiences and continue to mature in a healthy, happy, faithful manner.


In my estimate, parenting is not something based on a known checklist or cookbook recipe, but is rather a series of decisions and judgments undertaken to the best our knowledge and ability, based on the desire to provide our children an environment to love, security, and encouragement for their healthy growth in mind, body and spirit.


Military children have unique challenges, but I have endeavored to use my military experiences and skill to assist with my fathering.  The life experiences and context I share with Teresa are drawn in large part from my military experiences, to include my interactions with many cultures, as well as observations of conditions, in many other countries around the globe.


I am pleased, based on Teresa’s essay, to see that perhaps some of my efforts may be bearing some fruit.  My relationship with Teresa is very important, so I resolve to continue to be, as her father, a source of life-giving counsel so she might mature into a successful, confident, and faith-filled woman and citizen.


If you’d like to receive a collection of a couple of dozen inspirational essays, like the one above, please go to: and click resources.  The Me And My Dad essay guide also includes a 7- Session curriculum, which is a great way for a small group of dads to read, reflect and resolve to be better dads.  Proceeds from the essay guides go to support father-child programs.


From DAD To DAD, it’s very moving to read authentic messages about being a dad, especially those who are really making a difference in the lives of their kids and others.

David Hirsch's picture
About author: David Hirsch
David Hirsch is the father of five, ranging in age from 17 to 25. He is CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) at TEAMDAD and the founder (1997) of Illinois Fatherhood Initiative, the country's first state-wide non-profit fatherhood organization whose mission is connecting children and fathers by Actively Engaging Fathers In The Education Of Children.
View all posts by David Hirsch


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