Following in their father's footsteps

Sunday, June 15, 2003

They already share so much -- physical traits, personality quirks, family history.

But for some fathers and their children, the bond goes even further.

Father's Day is traditionally the day when children tell their fathers how much they love and appreciate them. But some area children get a chance to make their fathers proud every day -- and get paid, too.

Here's a look at a few fathers and children in our area who work together or who share the same profession:

Jennifer and Gary Brothers, Cape First Church

In the past year, Jennifer Brothers has transformed from the pastor's daughter to staff minister at Cape First Church. Her father, Gary, is senior pastor at the church.

Jennifer Brothers, 26, serves at the children's pastor and marks her one-year anniversary on staff July 1.

Brothers said her parents have been very helpful and supportive of the transition. But they haven't been overbearing.

"They've let me be creative and learn," she said. "They've helped and listened but not checked up on me as parents sometimes do."

Brothers said joining the staff was something she felt called to do. She worked as a teacher in Cape Girardeau public schools previously. She remembers talking to her parents about the prospect of ministry. Never once, though, did her parents suggest she join them on staff. "I had to do it on my own."

While her parents have been supportive, so has the church family. "I wanted to make my dad proud and make the church family proud because they've been so much a part of my life."

Scott and Bob Blank, Bi-State Oil Corp.

When Scott Blank was a child, working at the family business was about the last thing he ever intended to do. Today, he's the principal owner in the corporation since taking over from his parents, who retired in January.

Blank remembers being at the business office as a child much more often than he would have preferred. So when he got to make a career choice, he chose something else first.

But the science courses required for a physical therapy degree weren't as interesting to him as the marketing and business courses he took. So, after enrolling in a job interviewing courseat Southeast Missouri State University, he asked his father if he could take over the hiring for the company.

"The more involved I got, the more I liked it," Blank said. After all those years growing up around the business, Blank realized that "you have to do something and work somewhere," so the family business seemed like the perfect fit.

On his first day at work, his dad met him at the store, tossed him the keys and left for the family farm in Dutchtown. "My mouth probably hit the floor," Scott Blank said. "I ran out the door and asked 'Don't I need some kind of training for this? He just said 'You've got it under control.'

"I had no idea what I was doing. I've learned on the job. My dad is the kind of teacher who says you either sink or swim."

And Bob Blank seems delighted with his son's progress. "I trained him, and he's my son, so I knew he knew what he was doing. I had hoped he would follow in the business but when he was a youngster, he had a lot of other aspirations."

Abbie, James and Dennis Cain, Port Cape Girardeau

Doc Cain never really expected his children to take on major roles in the family business when they reached adulthood. But he did expect them to do some work at the restaurant.

"We wanted to teach responsibility," he said.

His son James, now 21, has worked in the restaurant since he was 15, doing summer jobs and odd chores around the business. As James matured, he seemed to develop a passion for the business.

Even though some work was expected, James said, "I wanted to work here. There's a lot of perks working for your family and being around them so it's like being your own boss."

Abbie, 19, has also worked in the family business since her early teen years. And whenever another staff member is absent, she gets called to work. "If Dad says he needs me then I have to come in," she said.

Being the boss's kid can be tough, though, because it means everyone expects more of you. "We've got to worker harder so that no one says we've got it easy," Abbie said.

Working that closely with your relatives can be frustrating and rewarding, the Cains said. "Sometimes you feel like your kids should do more than everyone else does, and other times you feel like they are doing more than everyone else," Doc Cain said.

335-6611, extension 126


Neckties lead the list of Father's Day gifts. Sales reach or exceed $800 million in both May and June at the more than 11,000 men's clothing stores in the United States.

There were 105,000 "stay-at-home" dads in the United States during 2002. These include married fathers with children under age 15 who are not working so they can care for their families while their wives work.

There are 2 million preschoolers who stay with their fathers for longer than they stay at a day-care center or with another caregiver while their mothers work.

There are 2 million single fathers in the U.S., up from 393,000 in 1970. There is now one single father for every six parents.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau

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