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The Art of Subtle Pressure

April 6, 2012

Yes, it does acutually straighten your arm!!!Remember, when I told you that  I fell while running in January and broke my elbow?  Everything was going great until I slipped on ice again while shoveling and reinjured my arm.  Initially the doctor thought I would need surgery, but they decided on a course of physical therapy and wearing a splint at night.  My splint, pictured here in Northwestern Wildcat purple, is an interesting device.  You set the pressure level, put your arm and then do nothing.  It is strange, because it really does not feel like something with that light of pressure could really alter anything.  The doctor explained to me that very light pressure sustained over time will actually significantly straighten out my elbow.

I thought, isn’t that a perfect analogy for fathering.  The best way to shape the path of our children is to provide consistent, subtle direction over time.  When I swoop in and make declarations or take dramatic action with my children, it will have a short-term effect, but usually not a lasting impact.  One big talk or one big event does not really get the job done.  It is the day in and day out conversations, small gestures and life happenings that really shape the direction of our children.

So, Dads, what messages are important enough to you to apply consistent, subtle direction over time?  There are lots of good ones, such as:

Always do what is right.

Treat everyone, especially those who are weaker with dignity.

Those who want to accomplish great things, must be willing to risk.

Your faith is your ultimate refuge.

These are just a few examples.  Figure out your message and then through words, actions and deeds apply subtle direction and watch with amazement as the path of your children follows.

To everyone, Happy Spring!!!  To my Christian readers Happy Easter and to my Jewish readers Happy Passover!!!

Patrick Donohue is a Life Coach in Oak Park, IL.  Contact him at

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