Posts Tagged ‘manhood’

I avoid social media during certain times. One of them is during awards show like the Grammys. Here’s a nice round-up from around the theological world with responses about what happened on the Grammy stage. Ed Stetzer had this to say…

We can complain about how everything has changed, but people have been doing that for a long time. Perhaps instead we might unashamedly hold to the truth we know and the hope we have.

Do you sing in church? Here’s a fantastic article about Why Men Have Stopped Singing in Church. Read this conclusion…

…there’s only one avenue left for men to participate in the service – the offering. Is this really the message we want to send to men? Sit there, be quiet, and enjoy the show. And don’t forget to give us money.

Here’s a very popular post this week is about wives letting their husbands love them – Let Your Husband Love You.

Yes. I love my wife and family. More than myself. This week on a friend’s blog I posted this confessional about when I knew I became a man. Thanks to fellow man, Brent Reinhart for encouraging me to write Being a Manly Man.

At this point in my life, some hobbies are on hold. But I will be introducing my kids to some outdoor sports and activities. Here’s a great read from one of the children who were “Born Into Rafting.”

Last thing. Spectate upon these incredible vistas from Bored Panda’s 22 Unbelievable Places…here’s one:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 5.20.48 PM

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The tragedy in Newtown is so incredibly heart breaking. I can scarcely take it in.

As the nation grieves with Newtown, people around us are searching for answers to some of life’s deepest and most basic questions, such as, “Where was God?” and, “How could God allow evil?”

When evil is expressed at this magnitude it knocks us off our routines of relative comfort. Our base survival instincts heighten and fear can often set in.

Those on the political left are blaming semi-automatic weapons. Some blame Hollywood. Those on the political right are mostly silent, and as in most arguments, the side not talking often loses.

A dialogue needs to take place on many fronts, such as gun control, mental health issues, school security, freedom versus government overreach, influence of video games, Hollywood’s glamorization of violence and the early detection of possible psychopaths.

I’d also like to add a subject – fatherhood.

All of the mass school killings in recent history had two things in common, semi-automatic weapons and young males.

What is so broken in our culture that empowers young males to kill innocent, lovely children? Where were all the shooters’ dads?

There has been minimal news coverage on the Sandy Hook shooter’s father. We know he is wealthy and was divorced from the shooter’s mother. But, there is plenty of coverage on the dead mother. In just a few minutes you can know the name of her favorite bar, how many guns she owned, what kind of medication she gave her son, ad nauseam.

Our culture has marginalized men and fathers and for good reason. Now, 40 percent of all children are raised in homes without their biological fathers.

These statistics are indicative of a culture where fathers are weak, unnecessary and absent. The result of a broken house is a broken family. Broken families lead to a broken society. Broken societies don’t value life.

The bottom line is that our culture must change and these senseless shootings must stop.

I don’t believe we’ll see a decrease in psychopathic acts of violence until our society 1) acknowledges the collapse of the American family and 2) engages a serious reconsideration about the role of fathers.

Read my earlier post titled, “I am Adam Lanza’s Father.”

This fictional post is a reaction piece to Liza Long’s “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother.” Long’s brutal and honest article is a powerful read about the tragic loss in Newtown addressing the mental health element in the midst of this national catastrophe and conversation.

Let me also preface this post by adding that this is not a personal attack on the Newtown shooter’s father rather a commentary on the state of fatherhood in America.

Newton Political Cartoon

Three days before 20 first-graders were gunned down in Connecticut, I wasn’t anywhere near my family. In fact, I haven’t spent much time with my two sons at all over the last four years.

You see, I gave up on my marriage several years before my divorce. I literally walked out on my kids and left my wife to raise them alone.

Like many other men, I loved my wife when we first married, but her nagging wore me out.

Then, similar to other couples in trouble, we thought having kids would “fix” us.

At first, I enjoyed being a dad. But as they grew older, I grew less interesting and they less fun.

Leading my home and raising my children was exhausting and never-ending. Our special needs child was particularly challenging. Sure, he was intelligent and strong-willed, but sometimes I wished my autistic son had been born, well, less special.

I didn’t live with my mentally ill son, so I didn’t see when he started slipping. My ex-wife had to bear that responsibility alone. She had to cope with his frequent meltdowns. At first, she was physically stronger than him, but as he matured, she grew to fear his violent outbursts and irrational, uncontrollable and temporary insanity.

Overall, my home life was just too hard. I was overwhelmed by the constant need to make good decisions. Every little mistake I made impacted others. I didn’t “sign up” for all of that.

When asked about my failed marriage, I blame “irreconcilable differences,” but inside I know I really abandoned my family to pursue my selfish, adolescent desires.

I don’t see what all the fuss is about; fathers don’t do much anyway. We can’t grow a baby inside of us. We can’t experience the pains of childbirth or the intimacy of breastfeeding. How important are we really?

Women do a great job of raising children on their own. Women are right; they don’t need men and are often better off without one. Dads really only get in the way.

I really love my sons, but I left them to be raised by their mother.

“They’ll be alright,” I told myself. “I didn’t grow up with a dad around and I turned out ok.”

Seeing my kids on court-appointed days was weird at first. Then it became normal.

Missing important events was expected. Working long hours paid the alimony and child-support and kept the judges and lawyers off my back.

The distance made it hard for me to discipline them on a regular basis. The distance hindered us from developing deep relationships, so my sons learned about the “real world” on their own.

I wasn’t there to guide my sons into manhood. I didn’t teach them to love and respect their mother. I especially failed at teaching my children to value and protect the gift of life.

Looking back I see that I was unprepared for family life. I was still a boy who hadn’t put away the things of my youth. I was ruled by narcissism.

I was weak, unnecessary, absent. It made me sad to see what my son had become.

What was I supposed to do? I was powerless to stop what happened inside my son and inside that school.

For the geek dads out there

This week’s Beta is a mish-mash of powerful writing, tips and inspiration.

First, David Brooks from the New York Times writes a pretty compelling piece about the war between the sexes in Why Men Fail. I’m open for discussion about this topic. My Facebook wall gets pretty heated with this topic.

Next, as a dad with two kids now, I’m beginning to enjoy different personalities. Focus on the Family has a great series about parenting and personalities. Here’s one of the articles that hit home for me – When Personality Differences Lead to Difficulties.

Earlier on the blog I asked, Dads, what are you doing to protect your kids? Here’s a helpful list from All Pro Dad about protecting your children from pedophile.

This post had me from the headline. I’m no fan of deadbeat dads or Daddy Discrimination – Lessons from Daddyhood: Dads Expected to Keep Their Children.

Diet and nutrition are important for kids, not just athletes or avid outdoorsmen. Learn how to feed good snacks to your kids with this link – Snacking Outside the Box.

This little guy is in a wheelchair. Here’s how his parents dressed him up for trick-or-treating. How are you going to make memories with your kids over the upcoming holidays?

This week’s Beta is heavy (minus the video). You’ve got stats, sound advice and a three lists of pragmatic next steps.

First, here’s a stout case for traditional marriage and traditional families – Marriage is the Answer to Poverty.

Focus on the Family is a solid ministry with great, practical advice. I think there are some points in this list for every parent – A Child’s Ten Commandments to Parents. Many of the items are spot-on for this generation’s helicopter parents, especially Nos. 6 and 7. No. 8 is a biggie for those OCD-type parents.

Brandon A. Cox puts forth 10 Tough Words for Men. I think this list is helpful and balanced for today’s man.

Here are Six Gifts Your Kids Need From You from Pastors.com. Intentionality is an unspoken theme in this post. I love what it says in No. 4…

A father is without question the single most significant influence on the spiritual life of his children. The statistical data from three major studies in recent years is overwhelming. If the father is involved in a church and is growing spiritually, the likelihood of the child doing the same skyrockets. If Mom goes to church alone with the kids, the chances plummet.

Continuing with a dad’s influence in the home, this post from The National Fatherhood initiative lists tons of helpful stats for those leading other men, pastors, mentors, foster parents, etc. See Consequences of Father Absence Statistics.

For those who don’t know me personally, I serve in the area of media. I’ve worked in many areas in newspaper, radio and TV.

This video is pretty accurate as to how TV really works!

Earlier this week, my family and I went to Chick-Fil-A on family night. (Read why here). Usually after eating, I’m the only parent in the kids room. You know, the one with 20 screaming kids in their bare feet running up the slide?

This night was different because two other dads were in there with me. We were checking Facebook on our phones and waving at our kids in the cow car 10-feet up in the air…just doing the dad thing.

Then, this little boy, no older than 6, came barreling down the slide and walked over to one of the dads, the one who was red-headed with a full beard. The boy stood right in front of him and sneezed in his face. Red-headed bearded dad, said “HEY!” And the little boy laughed.

Then, the boy acted like he was going to sneeze again. The next thing I know the boy spit in the dad’s face.

“If you do that again, I’m going to punch you in the face, little boy,” yelled the dad. (It was at this point I realized the boy and dad didn’t go together.)

The little snot replied, “Oh yeah, and I’ll kick you.”

“Try it and see what happens,” Red said.

Snot backed up like Charlie Brown and kicked Red hard in the left shin. All three of us dads were in total shock.

“Where are your parents, little boy?” Red asked.

“I don’t have any parents. They are dead,” Snot said. He spouted out how he came to the restaurant by himself and how he didn’t have any grown-ups watching him. (That last part was evident by now.)

The third dad walked out into the dining room to show Red where he’d last spotted Snot with some grown-ups. Red grabbed up his daughter and tromped over to the table.

At first, I couldn’t see Snot’s dad. I was thinking “if the dad is anything like the son, then this could end badly.”

Then I saw Snot’s dad, a pudgy, 5’3” guy with a depressing gait, gesturing and obviously apologizing. Pudgy dad and Red exchanged words through the glass and then both headed back toward the kids room. Pudgy had Snot come over and tell Red he was sorry. As expected, Snot was reluctant with no remorse or sincerity. Pudgy said, “Again, I’m terribly sorry.”

“You’d better be,” Red said.

Snot and Snot’s dad quickly left the building, but Red was still fuming.

I broke the silence. “If his dad would’ve been a big guy, I had your back.”

Scanning my 6’4″, 190-lb-frame, he said, “I wouldn’t need it. I don’t do much well, but one thing I can do is fight.”

I nodded.

“If this would’ve been McDonald’s, I would’ve beaten that guy’s EXPLETIVE. Chick-Fil-A saved that guy’s life tonight,” Red said.

“You know he has to know his son behaves like that. Why wouldn’t he be in here with him?” I puzzled.

“Because, he’s a sissy,” Red pronounced. “He’s probably been a sissy his whole life and now he won’t discipline his kids because he’s scared to.”

He then went on a lengthy monologue about what he would’ve done if that were his kid spitting on people, lying to them and kicking them and how his dad gave him tough love. I didn’t hear much of it because my mind stuck on his choice of the word, “sissy.”

I hadn’t thought of that word since the third grade, but found it an appropriate descriptor of Pudgy.

Wikipedia defines “sissy” like this – a pejorative term for a boy or man who violates or does not meet the traditional male gender role. Generally, sissy implies a lack of courage and stoicism, which are thought important to the male role.

The thought of being scared to discipline my own children was absolutely foreign to me. Now, I’m not a heavy-handed dad and rarely spank my 3.5-year-old. But I discipline her daily because I love her. I love her too much to let her live life without structure, rules, manners and decency. I love her too much to let spitting in a stranger’s face pass for acceptable behavior.

Good fathers discipline their children
We discipline out of love not anger. We discipline intentionally and consistently. The Bible says God disciplines His children too. I’ve been a first-hand recipient of divine discipline and it’s no fun. Zero. Zilch. 

This got me thinking about Snot’s dad…where he could be in life and what his fathering or apparent lack of was resulting in. I mean, I’ve never seen a kid act this terrible in public. (The third dad said Snot had been grabbing food from other people’s tables and bullying the other kids too.)

Dear dads, please discipline your children.

I know it’s easier not to.

I know you may be depressed. I know you may be struggling with unrealized dreams or crippled by debt. Or you may be unemployed right now and that’s got you on the ropes. You may be going through a divorce. I know how men are smothered, suffocated and choked with life addictions, like substance abuse, pornography, gambling, etc.

I know you may have had a bad dad. I know you might not have a good example (or any example) to follow. Your marriage may not be going the way you wanted to. Your dreams may have been crushed by a relative, spouse or work situation.

You may not know God’s love for you. You don’t understand why he loves dirtbags like us. You may think church-going men are weak. You may not have ever looked at God the Father with the right perspective because of heavy-handed, hypocritical religious parents.

But you need to be a man and be a good dad for your kid. Your love for them should override your need for their acceptance. You need to discipline your kid.

Don’t be scared to discipline your kids. Don’t be a sissy. But, don’t be a bully either.

Be the man of your family and stand up to your kids now. If you don’t, someone is probably going to punch them in the face. And if you bring them to Chick-Fil-A and they spit in another dad’s face, you might get punched in the face…even if you’re 40 years old.

First, let me say thanks to all the readers of this blog. I really appreciate the visits, the comments and the opportunity to share a part of your day and life through this creative outlet.

If you are new to Learning to Lead, I post weekly links to parenting experts’ articles, and I call them Beta. Beta is a climbing term. Here was my first Beta post.

To be a wise person and leader you must keep yourself exposed to as many diverse sources of information as possible. — Rick Warren tweet

All Pro Dad always has informative, list-based articles. Check this one out – 5 Toughest Things for Children to Talk About with Their Parents

I couldn’t agree more with Eric Geiger on his recent post called Experiences Not Toys

Here are two fascinating health articles to read, which got me thinking more about my children’s diets.

  1. This is is from Fast Company–with a nice infographic–about the benefits of breakfast.
  2. This health article from The Atlantic discusses how immediate gratification can be a predictor of adult obesity.

As my children begin to age I am more and more intentional about sharing my faith in Jesus Christ with them. I found this article helpful, and I hope you do too.

This funny image below explains a lot these days…