I sometimes jot notes down randomly in my phone to remind myself of something profound that I might have stumbled across but didn’t have time to unpack at the moment. There are times that I see these reminders and I’m completely confused as to what it was that was so profound about them but other times just putting my eyes on the notes can ignite my heart, soul and mind on fire. It’s as if those simple notes are a tightly packed firework and my eyes are the flame that lights the fuse and within seconds that small package of words lights up the sky in my mind with awe-inspiring light and thunder.
That is the case with this blog today. As I referenced my notes while I sat down to brainstorm topics for today’s blog I saw the words Protect. Provide. Preview. An explosive package wrapped in simplicity and tightly packed in a bundle of P’s. Protect. Provide. Preview. These 3 words sum up the role of fathers. It’s so simple right? Protect. Provide. Preview. Just let those words sink in for a moment as they pertain to you as a father(…or future father).
What does protecting your children look like to you?
Be honest and primal with your answers then let yourself into the 21st century and explore what fatherly protection means now. Chances are many of you jumped straight to physical protection and you hope that you are up to the challenges of the physical dangers that may present themselves. Others of you may have thought about mental and emotional protection from all the things that our children are exposed to on a daily basis. The honest answer is that both are correct and we can’t truly protect our children without strengthening ourselves in both areas.
What are some of the ways that we could be better prepared to protect your children physically?
No matter your mentality or your physical build every man should work towards, at the very least some sort of strength and knowledge of how to defend himself…and his family. That’s not to say that I think you should be a meathead but it doesn’t take long to do some push ups, jumping jacks, squats and crunches on a consistent basis. It also doesn’t take long to simply spend some time contemplating strategies to deal with dangerous situations whether that be a physical threat from another person or simply a dangerous environment and how you may be called upon to save the day. It’s not always fighting off attackers…sometimes your kids need a strong dad to pick them up after they get hurt or to use your strength to save them from getting hurt. Either way, I believe it is important for us as fathers to be prepared to physically protect our children. (Personally I love working out and training in various martial arts to keep myself in shape and ready for whatever life throws my, or my kid’s ways)
What are some ways that we can be better prepared to protect our children emotionally ?
Again, no matter what your mentality is you need to be working towards being emotionally healthy for yourself so that you can be healthy and stable for your children. The world can be a very scary place these days. Kids are being bombarded with conflicting ideas from every angle and there is no where to hide anymore. The days of parents being the unquestioned default for children’s morality are long gone. You can no longer just say the right things and hope for the best. You can say all the right things that you want but if you don’t prove those right things to be true in your own life don’t think for a second that your children are just going to take your word for it. They have social media and youtube to tell them different but without the inside look into those people’s life’s to find out if all they say is true.
To truly protect your children emotionally you have to root yourself in your core values and live with integrity. You need to explore your opinions and principles and ask yourself why you have them because your kids will ask and they need your honest answer…not only for their own emotional life’s but for their views and opinions of who you are. You owe it to your children to explore yourself, grow yourself and be able to help them do the same for themselves.
In today’s world men are put in a very strange place when it comes to providing for our families. It seems as though men aren’t supposed to be the bread winners anymore but if you aren’t you are seen as weak or lazy. There truly seems to be no way to win in the public opinion. Unfortunately this has created a vacuum in society that has caused a lot of men to throw their hands up and just worry about themselves while ignoring their responsibilities as husbands and fathers. Basically, if you can’t win you might as well find a way to enjoy losing.
My strong suggestion would be to buck the trends and focus on providing for your family. You may or may not be the top earner in your household but that should not hold you back from giving your all to put food on the table and money in the bank. For thousands of years men have been providers, it is the legacy of men and we shouldn’t be so quick to toss that aside.
Explore your dreams, passions and strengths and point your nose in that direction. Go be great at something you enjoy and stick to it. Even if it takes a while to get there you can’t just Cousin Eddie your life away “holding out for management” so do what you have to do but never forget where you are going or who you are doing it for.
This is an interesting and exciting one. Most of us are familiar with the protect and provide aspects of fatherhood but have you stopped to consider how you preview life for them? Are you aware of the phrase “…caught not taught”? Basically what that means is that children get to the heart of the matter. If you say one thing and do another they see straight through your words and catch on to your actions. This is similar to what I discussed with you about protecting your children emotionally by having integrity but this takes things a bit further (…or farther. I don’t know). This applies to EVERYTHING and not just to big issues and even applies to things that have never been discussed.
I had great examples from the father figures in my life about how to go about being a man. My Dad taught me a multitude of things that he never discussed with me. When we would go out to eat or just to the grocery store he was everyone’s friend. He said hello, smiled and asked about their day. I remember thinking he was the most popular person in the entire world when I was a kid so one day I got curious and asked “how do you know that guy?”. His response “I don’t”. I remember asking and getting that same response often so I asked a follow up one day “well, when did you meet him?”. His response “just now”. I was terribly shy as a kid and I couldn’t imagine having the guts to just talk to total strangers as if they were my best friends but as an adult I’ve found myself making friends everywhere I go…just like my Dad.
My stepdad previewed something completely different for me while I was growing up. He was for intents and purposes a successful man. He was an engineer at a large company as well as a stellar insurance salesman to boot. He seemed to have it all together until in one swoop both jobs came to an abrupt end. His company had a massive layoff and he was a casualty. I saw him go from smart and successful to stressed and desperate. He had every reason and excuse to throw his hands up and say “why me?” and maybe he did but he never gave up. He immediately started doing any and all jobs that came his way, he humbled himself to ask friends for work or side jobs and he fought and clawed his way back to comfortably providing for his family. I didn’t fully appreciate those efforts until I was a man with a family of my own. I would sit and look at my house and my family and think about how hard it must have been for him to work so hard for me, my brother and my sister when we weren’t even his blood. Then a few years later I found myself in a similar situation. My life had crumbled, my job went away, my marriage went away, my house went away…but with what my stepdad had previewed for me a quarter of a century before I was able to weather the storm and never stop fighting.
Be authentically you and live life with integrity and you will preview what is important about life to your children. Sometimes they need to see and know and not just hear and doubt. Preview what a man does, what a man is and how a man should treat his wife, his children and all those around him.
(BTW…My children know without a shadow of a doubt that the Atlanta Falcons are the best team in the NFL, Alice Cooper is the greatest living rock star, Waffle House is a place to make friends and that Jesus Loves Them because I have previewed life’s great truths to them)
….until next week.
LIGHT THE TORCH AND LEAD THE WAY!