Army dad says rewards of fatherhood outweigh challenges
June 14, 2012
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Every Monday morning you can count on Sgt. 1st Class James G. Harvey to recount the weekend's adventures with his sons. Whether he's taken his two youngest to a monster truck show or fished beside them along the banks of the rivers and lakes around Fort Stewart, Ga., it's a given that the proud father will have photographic evidence of his Family escapades on his cell phone.
The father of three, who serves as the provost marshal office noncommissioned officer in charge for 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division, said fatherhood is not about doing a good job or a bad job--those observer perspectives depend on how the person was reared--it's about raising his sons to be good people.
"My kids are happy and they love me," Sgt. 1st Class Harvey said. "That's all I need."
Sergeant First Class Harvey said he became a father at age 21 when his son, Chase, was born. After 21 years of fatherhood thus far, Harvey said the experience hasn't changed him, it has merely caused him to reshuffle his priorities in favor of his sons' needs versus his own.
Sergeant First Class Harvey said fatherhood has--and continues to be--a mixture of a few challenges sprinkled amongst countless rewards.
The 23-year Army veteran said the biggest challenge he has faced as a father has been being a single parent. Sergeant First Class Harvey said he's become used to not getting breaks and to wearing both parents' hats. He said being the only parent to look to has been tough for his sons at times as well.
"I'm the disciplinarian, the good guy [and] the bad guy all mixed into one at times," Sgt. 1st Class Harvey said. "That's a little bit of a struggle."
Sergeant First Class Harvey said the challenging times, though, have been overshadowed by all the happiness' his children have brought him.
"[I enjoy] watching [my sons] when they learn something … like how to ride a motorcycle … [or seeing] them catch their first fish," Sgt. 1st Class Harvey said. "I can't explain it, it's priceless."
Sergeant First Class Harvey said he enjoys taking his youngest sons--Dylan, 10, and Max, 7--hunting, fishing, camping, traveling, riding four-wheelers and motorcycles, and tubing behind the boat. He added that while his boys get bored with some of the activities, he wants to take every opportunity to teach them about the world.
Sergeant First Class Harvey said he works not to fall into the trap of doing what comes naturally to most parents, which is giving in to the feeling that he must always lead his sons every step of the way.
"Sometimes you've got to let them find the water," he said. "You've got to give them a little bit of freedom to make decisions."
Sergeant First Class Harvey said he has found his role as a father to be a lot like being a noncommissioned officer in the Army. He said he approaches teaching Soldiers and his children with the same philosophy in mind: if he's not patient and he screams at them like he's a drill sergeant he said he knows he's not going to like the product he has created. Sergeant First Class Harvey said the dual roles complement one another.
"As a leader, you pick things up that you like from other leaders that will help you out," Sgt. 1st Class Harvey said. "As a father, you pick up the best things about being a parent that helps you out. It's all encompassing."
Sergeant First Class Harvey said Chase is getting ready to become a Florida state highway patrolman and that Dylan and Max are doing well in school. He said at the end of the day its difficult picking out just one highlight from fatherhood, but that if he had to it'd be watching his sons learn to ride bicycles by themselves when they were 3 years old.
"That's pretty special to me," Sgt. 1st Class Harvey said. "It doesn't get better than that."