With all of the media attention around sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my role as a father and how I raised, and continue to influence my son.
How does a dad teach his son to be a man? What does it take to become a man?
Let’s start with what it’s not about. It’s not about teaching your son to exert his size, strength, or power in an unfair way…anywhere. It’s not about being in charge or demanding respect, or being in control.
When I was a young dad. I now realize that I was, at times, over-controlling with my son, Jeff. I suspect it was due to my ego, ignorance, and often fear. At that time, I had a job where, yes, I provided for my family, used my skills, was learning and growing, and provided food and shelter for my family.
But I was also traveling 10 to 15 days a month. I was so wrapped up in my own ego that there was no way that I could be a good husband and father based on the amount of time I was on the road. That was a critical developmental time for my son (and my marriage), and I was an absentee husband and father about half of the time.
That put a lot of extra strain on my wife to be the sole parent. I would come in the door after having spent 4-5 days working on the road, and just wanted to be with her and the kids. And understandably, she wanted and needed to “talk to big people”. She needed and deserved some respite. This was also at a time when I was spending way too much time in isolation. Airplanes, rental cars and hotel rooms is where I spent much of my time. It was also at a time when hotels were beginning to offer adult movies, and that could put me in a very bad place when I was “hungry, angry, lonely and tired.” This is the H.A.L.T. acronym that many recovery groups use to help make addicts aware of potential pitfalls of isolation when in a bad place, physically, emotionally or spiritually.
Normally, when I would come home from a road trip I would walk in the backdoor, drop my bags and my kids would scream, “Daddy’s home!”, and then run and jump on me and hug me. Nothing could make me happier in those days. I also expect it happened because Kim was a great mom and was probably prompting them to show me some love.
One particular day returning home from a long road trip, I came in the back door expecting that my kids would run to me and do the normal “Daddy’s Home” routine. On this particular day, Jeff stood with his arms wrapped tightly around his chest, with a scowl on his face, as he said “Daddy, I hate your job!” I was stunned, and the effect of the sharp sentence caused me to go down on my knees. It took a three-year-old to show me that my priorities were really messed up. It was a hard, but important truth spoken to me by my little son. Out of the mouth of babes!
People say that “quality time” is more important that “quantity time”. I beg to differ. Quality time is just that. It is time! The good thing is that within six months of that incident I left that job and started a new opportunity with much less travel.
As I reflect about the many high-profile men who are falling from high places due to the affects of lust and unbridled acting out, I’m remembering a quote from Ravi Zacharias, in my opinion, one of the most effective pastors on earth today, “The man who loves many women loves none. The man who loves one woman loves all.” I’d like to add my spin on that important quote. The man who loves many women loves none, and loathes himself. The man who loves one woman loves all, and honors God.”
Okay dads. This is about “being”. About being the kind of man you want your son to be. What does this look like? How do you want to be, dad? Honest, respectful, faithful to one woman, an ethical hard worker, etc. Be the man you want your son to be, and be the kind of man you’d like your daughter to marry.
This blog shares perspectives on how you have the ability to create new story endings that are meaningful, powerful and filled with hope. I facilitate culture changing processes that help organizations achieve greater impact. Also, I provide leadership coaching to help executives and aspiring leaders become the fullest expression of who they’re intended to be.
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