The Storm: A Leadership Booklet and Blog #6

THE STORM Chapter 6: Pops or Dad

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates


Why This Matters: Chapter 6, “Pops or Dad?” explores the intricacies of family relationships, trauma, and the power of self-reflection. The chapter addresses the impact of language on one’s perception and emotions, urging readers to consider the significance of the terms they use to describe their relationships. It emphasizes the importance of confronting difficult truths, seeking understanding, and the transformative potential of examining one’s life.

Essential Question for Readers: “How does the language we use to describe our relationships shape our perceptions and emotions, and what role does self-reflection play in navigating complex family dynamics and achieving a deeper understanding of ourselves?”


Chapter Summary

Chapter 6 of “Pops or Dad?” delves into the complex relationship between Dakota and his father, referred to as Pops. The chapter begins with Dakota and his granddaddy discussing family secrets during a storm. Granddaddy, sensing Dakota’s reluctance, brings up the topic of Pops, asking about his well-being.

Dakota’s resentment towards Pops becomes evident as he struggles to discuss his father. Granddaddy, however, probes further, questioning why Dakota refers to him as Pops instead of Dad. This leads to a revealing conversation where Dakota shares the painful experiences of being physically abused by his father, recounting how his brother became the family’s protector after a violent episode.

As the discussion unfolds, Granddaddy encourages Dakota to reflect on the impact of his chosen term, “Pops,” on his own life. He urges Dakota to examine the emotions and anger associated with this choice, hinting at the potential long-term consequences. Granddaddy shares wisdom from Mohammed the Prophet and introduces Socrates’ idea that an unexamined life isn’t worth living, encouraging Dakota to understand himself better.

The chapter ends with Granddaddy offering support and acknowledging Dakota’s achievements, emphasizing the importance of gratitude for those who paved the way. Dakota grapples with mixed emotions, realizing the impact of his brother’s sacrifice and the need to reconsider his relationship with Pops.

Throughout the chapter, the narrative skillfully navigates the emotional complexities of family dynamics, trauma, and the journey toward self-discovery. Granddaddy emerges as a guiding figure, gently challenging Dakota to confront difficult truths and encouraging him to embark on a journey of introspection.



*Call People by their Names blog/vlog:

*How to Remember People’s Names video:


Reflection/Journaling: Reflect on the language you use to describe your family relationships. How do the terms you choose impact your perceptions and emotions? Consider any difficult truths or unresolved feelings associated with these relationships. How might self-reflection contribute to a deeper understanding of your family dynamics?


  1. Choose a specific family relationship and evaluate the terms you use to describe it. Set a goal to use language that fosters positive perceptions and emotions.
  2. Identify one aspect of your family dynamics that you’ve been hesitant to confront. Set a goal to initiate a conversation or engage in self-reflection to better understand and address this aspect.
  3. Reflect on the impact of chosen terms on your emotional well-being. Set a goal to replace negative language with positive affirmations, fostering a healthier perspective on family relationships.

Next Steps:

  1. Engage in open communication with family members about the language used to describe relationships. Seek to understand each other’s perspectives and work towards fostering positive connections.
  2. Schedule time for self-reflection on your family dynamics. Consider keeping a journal to document your thoughts and emotions, allowing for a deeper understanding of your experiences.
  3. Practice using positive language when discussing family relationships. Pay attention to the impact of these linguistic changes on your emotions and interactions.

Remember, self-reflection and conscious language choices can lead to transformative insights and healthier relationships. Use these reflections and goals as a catalyst for understanding and navigating the complexities of family dynamics.

Dan Blanchard is a bestselling and award-winning author, speaker, educator, TV Host, and philanthropist.

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