It’s OK to Celebrate Dads (Part III)

It’s OK to Celebrate Dads (Part III)

Over the last week, I’ve been sharing a 4-part blog about our collective need to do a much better job of celebrating dads.  In Part I, we tried to get some explanation for why we hesitate to celebrate dads.  In Part II, we tried to discuss what’s at stake and the question of why this even matters at all.  In this 3rd part of the series, the conversation will move to a more practical place and offer some tips for getting started. Feel free to read it, share your thoughts, and pass it along!

 

Father & Child

 

Start Somewhere and Just say Thanks 

 Knowing that I will alienate a few of my feminist friends, I think that the journey to celebrating fathers well begins by acknowledging that men and women are not the same, and that we contribute distinct things, especially within the context of family. On his best day, a father is not a mother.  The same rule applies to a woman attempting to replace a man.  If you need help working through this concept, try wrestling with this question: What abilities/skills/quirks/traits/etc. did you get from your dad that your mom could not have given you? Contrary to what society seems to be leaning towards, there are some very unique and valuable things that a father contributes to the family.  Recognizing that one small truth will begin a process that will allow us to move to the next step – look for those praiseworthy things and affirm him for them. 

Begin by spending some real time discovering the unique contributions that your husband, your dad, your brother makes to his family.  Discover the ways that he blesses his family and celebrate those things.  Maybe he’s a fixer who goes to great length to keep the house functioning and moving along. I’m not that kind of dad, but I appreciate those kinds of dads.  Maybe he’s an encourager who cheers his kids along in everything – academics, sports, hobbies, even relationships. It’s ok to let him know how that adds to the life of your family. Maybe he’s a strong, silent type who brings a certain calm to every situation.  You’d be crazy not to acknowledge that! Maybe he’s the hardworking dad who sacrifices so that mom can stay at home and care for the kids.  More and more these days, I even see dads that stay at home while mom has the career.  That’s incredibly courageous and deserves some thanks!

To the question of how, let’s remember that the “right” way to say thanks is as unique as each dad is.  My wife would never spend $1,000 on a power tool as a gift for me.  She knows that it would never get used.  Much more awesome in my book is the assortment of random e-mail or text messages that she sends me out of the blue to say thanks for being an awesome husband and father!  When I read them, I feel like there is nothing that I can’t accomplish!

Honestly, there is no one image of fatherhood and no universal “right way” to celebrate fathers; However, there is one common desire that I’d argue all men have and that is the desire to know that what he is doing is appreciated and is worth something!

 

Ladies, you’re welcome in advance!!!

 

Read More

It’s OK to Celebrate Dads (Part II)

It’s OK to Celebrate Dads (Part II)

We Recreate What We Celebrate

Values are, in my opinion, both taught and caught.  With our words, our corrections, and our daily actions, we are communicating our values to others.  Most would probably agree with me there.  What we often overlook, though, is the fact that the things we celebrate are the things that we, ultimately, recreate.

Here’s one way to think about it. When a child is young, they quickly learn that certain actions will earn them positive attention from the people around them.  Over time, they can be seen repeating those actions, often hoping to earn more positive attention and praise.  As parents, teachers, and others with influence over young children, we learn to celebrate certain things, rewarding desirable behaviors and attributes. At the same time, we withhold celebration and reward when that child exhibits some undesirable behavior or attribute. In doing so, we are teaching that child, communicating certain values.  The goal is always to pass along those desirable values and behaviors, getting that child to internalize and reproduce them. I’m convinced that this manner of teaching and passing along of values does not end with childhood.

If this true, what are we communicating to young boys, teenage boys, young adult males and young dads about fatherhood? I would argue that our society is sending a resounding message to boys that says fathers are expendable. The message seems to be that fathers are a “nice to have,” but not essential.  We give the impression that what the father brings to the family is dispensable, nonessential, extra.

Here is one simple truth that every woman would be wise to figure out: Not one man in this world flourishes in an environment that tells him that he is simply extra!  

All that being said, I’m admonishing the wise people among us to begin to think critically and act swiftly to start celebrating fathers.  Let younger males see that fatherhood matters and is desirable.  Better yet, let them know that our expectation is that every father would be present and active in the lives of their children.  Only when we change expectations and become more thoughtful and intentional about what we celebrate will we begin to see meaningful change.

After all, the things that we celebrate are the things that we eventually recreate!

 

Read More

It’s OK to Celebrate Dads (Part I)

It’s OK to Celebrate Dads (Part I)

If you’ve followed my blog over the last year or so, you know that I write primarily about family and fatherhood.  In fact, telling stories and raising awareness around those two topics were huge motivations for starting the blog in the first place.  Follow me on Twitter or Facebook and you’ll see that a huge portion of my content relates, in some way, to family and fatherhood. Check out my Instagram and I’m sure you know by now what you’d find.  That’s right…many of my pics capture moments that reflect family and fatherhood.  All of this is true not by accident or by consequence.  There are many other topics that I find interesting, but I’ve come to believe that few things are more important and worthy of discussion than family and fatherhood.

That is why even after the Father’s Day holiday has passed, I feel inclined to invite all of you, my friends and associates, to join me in celebrating fathers and the contributions that they make to our families and communities! This post is one in a series of four that I hope will free us up to celebrate fathers in more genuine ways!

My message is pretty straightforward: It’s ok…Go ahead and celebrate dads!

 

 

Why is Permission Necessary?

 When I think about family dynamics and reflect on what I notice in society, I observe a growing reluctance to acknowledge and affirm the role of the father in the life of the family.  It seems that we have formed this false dichotomy where celebrating fathers is degrading to mothers.  Similarly, we often hesitate to celebrate fathers who are responsible and present, fearing that we might offend families where fathers are absent. In the name of sensitivity, we are often quite muted towards fathers.  On one hand, we wave the banner saying that fatherlessness is an epidemic.  On the other hand, we struggle or refuse to say thanks with any regularity and clarity to men who rise to the occasion day after day.  We know better; yet, we hold back.  My hope is that we can begin to address that breakdown!

So, If you’ve ever hesitated to make a big deal out of a father handling his business, take this opportunity to go bananas!

It’s a celebration!

 

Discussion Question: Would you say that it’s more natural to celebrate mothers? Why or Why not?

– – –

Part II: We Recreate what we Celebrate (Coming on Friday, June 22nd)

Read More

The Good Life (Fakin)

“We started from the bottom. Now, we here!”

So goes the tag line of a very popular song from Toronto-born rapper, Drake.  The song is not one of his most creative projects, but has become wildly popular in no time, especially among many of the urban youth that I serve. Like a lot of other rappers, Drake will profit handsomely because he was able to create an anthem for an army of young people who are unhappy with their current station in life (the bottom) and want to do something about it! Drake and his partners in the hip hop industry have successfully been able to tap into this yearning that many young people have for “the Good Life.”  They’ve been able to dangle a carrot before these kids and lead them in circles chasing an ever-evaporating sense of fulfillment.  Shoes. Jeans. Headphones. Tattoos. Gangs. Hustling. They’re all desirable because, at some point, someone has said to these kids, “___ is the key to the “Good Life. Get ___ and get the good life!”
Think back to Kanye’s hit, “The Good Life.”  The lyrics are not PC, so be warned:

 

Welcome to the Good Life
Where niggas that sell D
Won’t even get pulled over in they new V.
The good life, let’s go on a livin’ spree,
Shit, they say the best things in life are free.
The good life, it feel like Atlanta
It feel like L.A., it feel like Miami
It feel like N.Y., Summertime CHI, ahh
Now throw your hand up in the sky…
 
In Kanye’s estimation, the good life is about dealing drugs without fear of being caught, lavish living, and a general party atmosphere. Throughout the rest of the song, he paints this elaborate picture of the good life as jet setting, having sex on planes, stacking piles of money, all sorts of other irresponsible behaviors. To call it ridiculous is being nice!
My immediate concern, though, is the effect that these messages have on impressionable youth like the ones in cities like Minneapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, and Houston. Far too many of these kids find themselves at “the bottom” based on family of origin, broken school systems, and multigenerational poverty. By the age of 12, many of these kids have seen more pain, dysfunction, abuse, and struggle than any one person should have to endure.  They look at their environment and often see no immediate cause for hope.  So, they REACH…looking for hope wherever it can be found!  Unfortunately, it is often found wrapped up in the thumping beat of a song and a music video.  With kids cramming as much as 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media into their day according to recent studies, the messaging of the good life and the “bottom to the top” narrative grows deep, deep roots. I could give examples of 10-15 students, male & female, who have gambled and lost big time in their pursuit of “the good life.”
 
Read More

Start Acting Like a Kindergartener!!!

A few years ago, I discovered a book that affirmed a long-held suspicion of mine: most adults are way too serious!  Before you curse me out and begin to think of concrete examples of why my “immaturity” makes it ok for you to ignore the rest of this post, let me explain! The book that I’m referring to is a little text written by Robert Fulghum, and the title says it all, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”

I love this book for its simple, straightforward honesty.  Here is an excerpt:

—–

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.  These are the things I learned: 

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Read More