By Erick Johnson, Gary Crusader
When your dad shouts at you about cleaning your room or doing your chores, don’t get mad. Focus on the message, not the tone or emotion.
It’s advice from a young 12-year old Black male from Gary who is now a published author. He is Zion Harper, a bright high achieving student who has teamed up with his father, 39-year-old Hansen Harper to write a unique new book that sheds rare insight from a son’s perspective into family relationships that many Black males seldom experience in homes.
Titled, “You Can Be a Better Son,” the book was written by Zion when he was 11 years old. It corresponds with another book written by his dad, “You Can Be a Better Father.” Both are Gary natives who along with their family, moved to Houston in 2013. A former teacher at Theo Bowman Academy, Hansen now teaches in Houston. He is married to Deon, another teacher. In addition to Zion, the couple has a six-year old son, Zoey.
Hansen’s father is Floyd Harper Sr., another Gary native and minister who still lives in his hometown with his wife, Ovellia.
The book is a practical self-help guide whose seven chapters provide tips that can help sons improve relationships with their fathers. Unlike mothers and daughters, it’s traditionally a tough one for young and older men. But with financial and social pressures, communication can be even tougher for Black fathers and sons.
“You Can Be a Better Son,” aims to strengthening that relationship from a son’s perspective. Zion and his father came up with the idea of writing the book. For Zion, an honor roll student who will start 7th grade in the fall, the book was another opportunity to bond with his dad and gain more insight about father-son relationships.
“The book wasn’t just a fun time,” he told the Crusader during a telephone interview from Houston. We weren’t just writing it. We were living the experience.
“You Can Be a Better Son,” focuses more on listening skills that can help young men understand their fathers’ direction without feeling unloved or misunderstood.
In “You Can Be a Better Father,” Hansen focuses on building relationships from a father’s perspective. That book focuses on listening, spending time together, compassion and appreciating a father’s guidance. With pressures in the family, they are subjects that can often be left out in father son relationships.
“Fathers must increase the time and communication with their sons God’s way,” Hansen said.
With a cutout photo of Zion and his father on the cover of “You Can Be a Better Son,” the book can be purchased on Amazon.com. At the end of book, there are seven Buddy Builders which give father and son tips on how to spend valuable time with each other.