I think its worth examining the content of the words we say from all angles, especially when we find ourselves at the helm of a family. I believe we actively choose our route in life even if this realization lies below the surface of our day to day consciousness. Syntax, or the arrangement of words in our chosen language is extremely powerful. The words we use and the actions we choose further our entrenchment in our path, or they create a new path for us.
And to address this manly thing. This seems to always be a conversation worthy of a headline or a social media post. For me this comes down to fulfillment of responsibility, and gentle leadership. As men we are often viewed as leaders. To lead gently is not to command. To lead gently is to empower and inspire. This is a much greater task that demands a great deal of empathy and vulnerability. To be strong and to lead in a gentle manner requires a level of connection that takes an investment of time, and takes requires effort. It is very challenging to lead children/ near impossible without connection. Its literally in our biology. Connection is first, it is the thing we most seek. Then all things come after. To think that we can thrive and lead without this is faulty I believe. Adults are just experienced kids. Connection still reigns supreme. Establish this and foster this and you are on the right track. Connection also demands vulnerability, it demands being seen, it demands letting people in. I am not referring to letting people take advantage of you, I am referring to allowing others to know you and experience who you are. If you can find a balance between taking care of your responsibilities and leading in a gentle way, you my friend are behaving in a very real manner. Hence you are a "real" man. Manhood is not about a look, it is not about some false ideal. Manhood is a very real expression of a committed individual to others outside himself. Its a life of service. To lead we must build others up, and this starts at the most basic of needs, the need to connect.
Man yesterday was a landslide. A landslide that left me in tears, and brought me the realization that I had unknowingly landed myself right where I was. Our oldest is 3.5 and she is basically a teenager. Talking to her baffles me almost everyday, and her recall of events and interactions is nothing short of someone that has a photographic memory.
We are very diligently working on asking for things that she wants. As an older sister, she takes the liberty of snatching things from her sister countless times each day. She understands the difference between statements and questions and is fully capable of both. She also is very familiar with the word please. Her first go to move is to grab and pull. Then she will use a statement if the grab and pull doesn't work. Typically the statement comes out quite loudly as you can imagine. Then the screams start. If I can catch the interaction at the beginning, I will remind her to ask, and her sister thankfully, usually complies.
I need to be better. You need to be better. We need to be better. There is a real problem going on in this city right now. There is a real problem going on in our country right now. There is a real problem going on with this planet right now. Open up a newspaper, hell just look at the cover, click on any social media channel. What is the first thing you see? Some bullshit about someone killing someone else, or stealing something or lying, or someone beating/killing an animal, or this damn political mess we are in, or a bomb going off in some public place. This is sad, this is real sad.
We have been missing the point for awhile now. People just don’t care. They/You/I don’t care for each other. They/You/I don’t care for our planet. Most importantly, They/You/I don’t care for ourselves.
I believe my presence in my children's life at the top of the list of value I can bring to them. Of course I can provide value in other ways, but when all is said and done, being present in their lives will be the greatest gift I can give. My time, and my intention to their lives is paramount. I know there are plenty of fathers that share this sentiment and know the value of their role in their child's lives. We can't ignore the distinct reality that sometimes fathers find themselves outside the walls of their child's lives. For many reasons a GAP exists today between fathers and their families. Our society unfortunately doesn't always help out, with jobs, illness, bills, and debt, etc.
No one is calling into question the value of a father. The overwhelming stats would sway you far the other way. But are we fostering an environment that makes it conducive for fathers involvement? I think we could agree that our kids are the future. So why is their best interest, and their childhood experience not of paramount attention? I am not speaking to the parents that do their best for their kids. I know you are concerned. My question is posed to those who are in positions of influence. Are we fostering a culture, and an environment that is conducive for our fathers to parent their children? Are we valuing their experience, over their dollar bill? Before I had children, things like this really weren't in the forefront of my mind. We opened a business, and made some choices that probably were less than accommodating for dads. It wasn't that we were actively making choices against fathers. We just had things on our plate that were pressing on our minds. Looking back, I could have done better.
To me, I think of the struggle of the new father. This is something I know very well, and have been in this place the past 4 years. What were the things that were terrifying to me? When did I feel unsure? When did I feel like a failing amateur? I was terrified to take my girls into public. I felt so inadequate. I felt so unprepared even if I had 100 diapers and 40 bags of wipes and a stroller and helmets and elbow pads on both girls. I was overthinking a possible situation that might not even happen. It was all very real in my mind. And it kept me in my safe place, at the house. Sad, I know. But very real. And I don't think that I am the only one.
I know there were dads that have been in this same situation before me, and had similar concerns. But to what end? As a Community let's Pay it Forward. As a community let's put some feet on the ground and make some change. #Squatforchange is a step in this direction. Its by no means the answer to all the concerns of fathers raising their children. But it will start to shift the paradigm. It will start to build an environment that welcomes dads with their kids. It will be well received by dads that are in a fluster.
And it will promote the value of fathers spending time with their children. And for this it is a valuable cause. Children need their fathers. And so do we, as families, as a larger community, and as a culture.
Have you ever been to a large lake in the still of the morning light? The water is pristine like glass, it reflects the sky and the trees. It's truly magical. 1 stone thrown into this body of water will produce a ripple that will cover the whole lake. It takes 1. You don't even need to hit a special spot, just get it in the water. Doesn't seem that hard, now does it? Next time you see a stone, pick it up and think. What could I do today to make this change? How can I move the needle for dads? Eventually we find ourselves faced up to the fog. The next step is unclear, but that doesn't diminish the need to take it. Their is a whole world through that fog. Do you have the courage to seek it out? Someone, somewhere will take this step. Is it you?