- On 19 June 2012
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Fathers have effect on kids' careers, often without knowing it
Following in dad's footsteps
By Kim Lamb Gregory
Ventura County Star
Posted June 16, 2012 at 3 p.m., updated June 16, 2012 at 5:03 p.m.
Ventura Superior Court Judge Colleen Toy White spent years riding shotgun with her dad as he enforced the law in the tiny Oklahoma town where she grew up.
"My dad was the chief of police for a while and then the constable," White said. "We did an early version of the ridealong before it even had a name. The main street was only a block long and I don't remember a lot of heinous crimes being committed."
Dr. Stacey Fine of Thousand Oaks used to accompany her physician dad on hospital rounds. Her doctor's bag was filled with crayons.
And Ojai musician-composer Jesse Siebenberg's toys were his dad's musical instruments, which he mastered to the point that he went on tour with his dad, Supertramp drummer Bob Siebenberg.
CSU Northridge psychology professor Dr. Mark Stevens said dads can have considerable clout when it comes to career choices.
"Kids are really curious and there's a little bit a mystery about what dad does," Stevens said. "One of the critical pieces here is, how much does Dad enjoy the work he does? Kids will watch their dad and know a lot about Dad's work, even if things have been unspoken. They will see Dad's mood when he comes home. Often kids will fill in images of what Dad is doing for a living."
When a dad enjoys what he does for a living and communicates about his work world to kids, it can help pave the pathway to a successful career for kids, said Stevens, who deals with many men's issues in private practice.
"Often men don't talk about what they do," Stevens said. "They hold it inside of themselves so that story isn't there for their children when it comes time for them to choose their own careers. It's about giving permission for dads to talk about the real story of how they chose their career and how they feel about work."
When dads love what they do, and involve their kids with their career choices, the result can be a successful adult who enjoys his or her line of work. In honor of Father's Day, we spoke with some Ventura County residents in a variety of careers to find out how Dad helped set their career trajectory.
LAW AND ORDER
Judge White stepped up under the Great Seal of California and sat down at the bench in Courtroom 37.
To her right, behind bars, sat a row of jailed defendants in blue cotton jail uniforms and orange rubber clogs. Behind the courtroom, court clerks carrying sheaves of paper scurried among tired folding chairs holding about 15 defendants.
After some paper shuffling and a call to order from the bailiff, White began listening to attorneys plead their clients' cases. "I'm gonna stay your jail time," White told one defendant with a lilt that sweeps back decades to her childhood in Oklahoma.
White grew up one of five children in the town of Wetumka, Okla., which had a population of about 1,000. White, now 67, got her nickname "Toy" from her brother, who is six years her senior.
"Mom anticipated some sibling rivalry, so she said, 'When the baby comes, you can name the baby,' " White said. "So when I was born, he looked at me and said 'She looks just like a toy.' "
White's dad, Bass Moore, had a sense of compassion and justice that he showed White, rather than told her.
"He had a real keen sense of fairness. He treated everyone the same," White said. "He'd talk to the banker and the town alcoholic always the same. He treated everyone with respect. Those are the kind of lessons you learn when you don't know you're learning them."
There was no budget for a police car, and no uniforms, so Moore wore khaki pants, a white shirt and tie.
"He drove the family car as a police car," White said. "It was an old Chevy. On the side was a spotlight."
When she was old enough to help drive sentenced prisoners to the county seat, White would be at the wheel and Moore would ride in back with the prisoner.
When Moore transferred the prisoners from the Wetumka holding cell to the jail in the county seat, he would always give the prisoners a little money out of his own pocket so they could buy candy and cigarettes, she said.
"He'd wink at me and say, 'Don't tell Mom,' " White said. "We had five kids at home and he had a very meager income."
White said her dad was a "prince of a guy" who would often take young people home after a lecture, rather than landing them in jail.
"He knew justice sometimes had nothing to do with going to jail," White said.
Bass Moore lived long enough to see his daughter go to law school, but he never got to see her as a judge, White said. But she has tried to show the compassion and justice that her father exercised every day.
"You realize that a child really does become what they see," she said. "Your actions speak so loudly."
IN PRACTICE WITH DAD
Dr. Stan Silverman knew one of his two daughters, Stacey, was always interested in medicine, but he tried to discourage her.
"I just don't think medicine is the field it used to be," said Silverman, an OB-GYN in Thousand Oaks. "Liability, regulations, reimbursements."
But Dr. Stacey Fine, now 41, was determined. So determined, in fact, that she took her medical board examinations two days after giving birth to the first of her two children.
"It was very crazy, but it's kind of the way I tend to do things," Fine said. "I had to hook up a breast pump in the middle of my boards. I also had to explain to them (the others taking the boards) that I was sitting on a doughnut."
Silverman, 75, now shares a practice with his daughter in Thousand Oaks. His other daughter, Beth Silverman, is a prominent district attorney in Los Angeles.
"I think my father always pushed his children to be self-sufficient and have careers and strive and never back down in times of adversity," Fine said. "We couldn't have done that without a model figure who worked hard every day and never complained."
"I always told my daughters anytime they wanted to do something, do it 100 percent," Silverman said.
When she was a child growing up in Westlake Village, Fine recalled going on medical rounds with her dad.
When Fine started going to medical school, she would observe her dad in the operating room, wondering how she could ever stand the sight of blood without passing out. Her dad told her it would get better, and eventually it did.
"The first few times I was in surgery, I had a stool tied to my foot so I could sit down," she said.
When Fine got her medical degree and passed her boards, they went into practice together.
"He devoted himself tirelessly to this," she said. "There are many nights we get up together to go in for a C-section. He still absolutely loves what he does."
Being in practice together has worked out well, she said, but they are family, and there are disagreements.
"We certainly have our moments. We're very vocal. We're not uncomfortable with telling each other how we feel," Fine said.
Now that Fine is married with a daughter, 8, and a son, 6, Grampa watches them one day a week while Mom and Dad work. "That's my day," he said with a grin.
For Father's Day, Silverman said his greatest gift is to be able to take the whole family out to dinner, and dinner's on him.
EDUCATION AND THE MILITARY
If it weren't for his dad, Conejo Valley Unified School District Superintendent Jeff Baarstad would never have gone into education, he said.
"When you grow up as an educator's kid, you're exposed to lots of friends who are also educators," said Baarstad, 57.
Baarstad's dad, David Baarstad, 88, went into special education in the Ventura Unified School District while Jeff was growing up. His mom also was a teacher.
When Jeff was a junior at Buena High School, David spent a semester on campus at Brigham Young University so he could earn his Doctor of Education degree.
"I was on the varsity football team and they had a tradition of dads and sons being introduced together," Jeff said. "I had to do that with one of my dad's really good friends. I wish my dad was there, but I understood."
David worked in the still-emerging field of special education between 1960 and 1985. Jeff would often come home and find gifts from parents of special-needs kids who finally had a learning program for their child, thanks to David.
"From time to time I'd come home and there would be flowers and a cake on the porch," Jeff said.
Jeff became a teacher and eventually a school district superintendent. To this day, he and his dad talk shop.
"He loves to have conversations about my job. What am I doing. How am I approaching this," Jeff said.
The legacy continues, Jeff said. His daughter is a high school teacher.
Christine McCloskey, Hueneme Elementary School District assistant superintendent of business services, also credits her career decisions largely to her father, former U.S. Marine and now Ventura Unified School District board member John Walker.
"He's definitely been the most influential person in my life," said McCloskey, 43. "When I was growing up he was going to school on the GI Bill. As a young child, I saw him going to school at night."
It was a turnaround for Walker, 65, who admits he was a bit of a slacker until he joined the Marines during the Vietnam War.
"In high school, I was kind of average," he said. "It kind of turned me around and made me ultrapatriotic."
The military also instilled a sense of tireless discipline in Walker as he pursued a master's degree. It took him nine years while he worked full time as an installer at GTE, which eventually became Verizon.
"My wife and I are both very strong in our faith. Faith combined with patriotism and discipline and the value of education," Walker said. "She became a very black-and-white little girl. It was either right or wrong."
On the night Walker received his master's degree, McCloskey was heartbroken that she couldn't attend. She was part of the Buena marching band and there was an event she couldn't miss or it would erode her grades.
"I remember specifically his saying that getting good grades was more important than my being there," she said.
McCloskey became a teacher, a principal, and finally joined the district as an administrator.
Walker influenced his other daughter, Rhonda Grant, 40, who followed in her dad's earlier footsteps by going to work for Verizon.
MUSIC A TIE THAT BINDS
Ojai musician-composer Jesse Siebenberg, 35, was steeped in his dad's music from an early age.
"When he was about four, I bought him a Toys R Us drum set for Christmas," said Siebenberg's dad, Bob Siebenberg, 62, drummer for the British rock band Supertramp. "He demolished it in a day."
Jesse ultimately got the hang of the drums and many other instruments, including guitar and keyboard.
"I had a studio in my home and lots of instruments around," Bob said. "He was playing piano at 6. It was always pretty obvious he had this gift."
"It was a stimulating scene for a kid. It was a bunch of top-notch musicians even making music or listening to records," Jesse said.
Jesse, who now co-owns a recording studio in Ojai, toured with his dad and Supertramp for 14 years after he turned 20.
Jesse was about 5 or 6 when he and his dad were listening to rhythm and blues saxophone giant King Curtis at Fillmore West in Northern California. Jesse remembers watching his dad's face as Bob listened.
"It was a different look than I'd ever seen," Jesse said. "I think it hooked me into music for life, right there. I think it was because he was really in it, but in a humbled way. We listened to all sorts of stuff, but only certain albums made you really just stare and block everything else out."
Jesse made a few "rookie mistakes" when they first went on tour, Bob said, but he's seen his son blossom.
"To see him standing up in front ... and performing some of our tunes so well and to great reception and applause has been a source of great pride," Bob said.
Jesse said his dad has always been an active participant in his and his sister Victoria's lives."We talk and see each other often, mostly due to his efforts, I'm not proud to say," Jesse said, adding: "I'll call soon, Pop!"