Men Need A Revival

What does it mean to be a man? Sadly, many don’t know. Our society desperately needs strong men. We need men who love their children and adore their wives limitlessly. Unfortunately, to many men, their ideal status is beer and TV. Give me a break.

The latest generation of boys to have started families was raised on video games and the negative father stereotype. The concept of getting drunk on the weekends was not a staple for college movies, it was what you did. Drug use is expected and a condescending view of women is typical.

We need a manly revival. One that expects men to do things differently. To live as their fathers and great-grandfathers did in many respects. If you are not doing the following three things, you are not a man.

First, do you put the wants and needs of your family second to your own? This is the trait of a good leader. A problem I see in marriages is that the man is constantly working to defend his selfish actions. Rarely do I see a man working to make excuses because he was acting in the best interest of his family.

Second, are you working to improve yourself in a variety of ways? By staying where you are, don’t expect your children to excel. Don’t expect to live up to your dreams and don’t expect your wife to admire you very much.

Finally, are you working to be an example to those around you or are you playing to the lowest common denominator in the room? Nothing says, “I have morals” like a man who says no to things he disagrees with and works to make things better in ways that he appreciates.

If you don’t know what it means to be a man, read, read read. Discover yourself and you will reap the rewards.

4 Tips for Play Time – Dad Edition

kids-laughing-with-daddy
It was a cold Sunday afternoon and I was scurrying to get my share of the housework done so I could play with my son. Waking up on Monday with the realization that I didn’t spend any play time with him makes me feel like a failure as a father. My 8 year old son was so excited that we were going to play Legos. He worked diligently to get his room ready so we could “battle” with our own customized versions of mayhem machines. I completed my final chore, stepped into his room and for the next 45 minutes . . . was completely bored out of my mind. 
 
How can something I want to do so badly seem like such a chore? I wanted to spend some quality time with him but the moment it begins, I feel as though I want it to be over. Maybe you have felt the same? Let’s face it. It’s because we’re men. Long gone are the days of imaginative play. We typically see no value in it. There are no rules. How will we know who wins? How will we know when we’re done? All these questions point towards our task oriented minds. You know you’re supposed to play with them but what does this mean? The following are how I turn play time into fun time for the both of us.
 
  • Set your phone’s timer. There’s nothing that says, “I’d rather be somewhere else” than when you look at your watch which happens when we’re bored. Whether you legitimately have something else you need to do in an hour or to simply keep yourself from checking the clock, setting a timer can help you focus your energy on the task at hand. Tell yourself, “I will play with my child for an hour, at least” and do it. You may end up playing for two.
  • Allow him to carry the narrative. As men we are goal oriented and with no clear and definable purpose we see little value in what we are doing. Your child on the other hand is playing and this involves an evolutional of a storyline for what is happening right at the moment. He hasn’t thought it out. He is just playing. This is the essence of what’s going on so listen to him.
  • Let him win. The goal is to help him feel good about being with you and losing doesn’t help this.
  • Understand that the value is in the end result. You are playing with your child because you want him to know that you care. You are interested in what he’s interested in and you want a hug and a memory because someday your child’s world will not be filled with fantasy but rather with the cares of this world. Cherish his innocence and enjoy it with him.

Mental Map Fatherhood

The following article can be found at www.Fathers.com, an excellent website that works to help men become better fathers.
Do you ever feel lost as a father? Does it seem like your idea of what should be happening … isn’t? Maybe the path your child is taking or the level of success he is achieving doesn’t quite match up with your timeline?
I struggle with this. My son is four and a half, and there are times when I’m convinced that he should be able to master a physical skill—like swinging himself—until I discover that some six-year-olds can’t do that yet.
Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why
Not long ago, I discovered a fascinating book on wilderness survival that has given me some new insights about why I tend to do this, and it has some other useful applications to my fathering. In this book, Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales, the author tells true stories of people who become lost and even die in the wilderness. He contends that people meet their ultimate demise this way because they don’t adapt. They apply old forms of reasoning—which he calls “mental maps”—to new experiences, and this often leads to bad decisions.
For example, even accomplished outdoorsmen will sometimes struggle while hiking in unfamiliar terrain and higher altitude. They may make decisions based on past experiences, underestimate or fail to adapt to the new challenges, and miss common-sense solutions that would save them a lot of time and trouble—and maybe even their lives. They become victims because they aren’t willing or able to adjust their mental maps.
ImageI believe mental maps are used in fatherhood as well. It could be a dad trying to relate to his daughter by applying the map of reasoning he depends on at the office. Chances are, it won’t work; he needs to adapt his approach to her specific needs.
Maybe it’s more common for dads to use the faulty mental map that I call a case of the “supposed-to’s”: Junior is supposed to eat what Dad tells him to. Sally is supposed to be making all A’s. Junior is supposed to be the starting quarterback. While these may be valid expectations, our mental maps, rather than solid evidence, often drive our actions. Maybe you were strong in a certain area, so your child should be too.
What’s wrong with this? The desire to force a child to be a certain way sacrifices the growth that could occur otherwise because it doesn’t consider the child’s unique gifts and interests. Consequently, this impedes a lot of the good the father could possibly do in shaping his child. Maybe he’s not a very gifted athlete right now. Well, he may never be if he feels pressure to perform beyond his capabilities. This is a faulty mental map that has not adapted. Forcing a child to perform is like training for a sport by skipping the basics.
Also, too often dads use mental maps like I described with my son: we assume we know how quickly our children should be progressing in life, and we try to force our own time line on them and overlook their talents and developmental growth. It took me three years to reach my weight lifting goal. Had I been forced into a shorter time line, I may have never attained it. Your daughter can possibly be the best softball player in town, but if her spirit is wrecked from ridicule because she’s not making immense strides, you can forget it. Little by little, children can excel, and we must respect that. That’s not me talking, it’s nature.
What’s a better approach? I have two suggestions:
First, check your motivation for why you are pushing your son or daughter to succeed. Is it for his good or for your own? There is a deep pride that fathers carry when their children succeed at something. When you see a glimmer of talent in a child, excitement takes over, and it may take over so much that your child’s acceleration to the next skill level may be impaired because of your desire to get him or her there too quickly. It’s important to distinguish between your own dreams and desires for your child and what is truly best for him.
Now, if your encouragement and prodding is based on evidence of the child’s talents and past accomplishments, then that may be a different matter. Children can be lazy unless they are pushed to do their best, but please make sure they can reach the goals you set for them. If your goals are too lofty, your child could fail repeatedly and become discouraged.
Second, you must understand your child. Ask yourself, “What is he good at and how can I help him get better?” Focus on discovering a child’s strengths and then helping him capitalize on those strengths. Avoid comparing him to other kids or basing your expectations on some other faulty mental map of where you think he should be. By stepping back and analyzing the situation, you can get a clearer grasp of where your child is, which will greatly increase the chances that your actions as a father will help him achieve his full potential. You may need to give up with some of your own goals and expectations for your child, but it’s much better for the child in the end.
Dad, if you’re like me, you’re often very quick—sometimes too quick—to jump in and fix things. If my first attempt doesn’t work, I sometimes get frustrated and do more damage than what was there at the start. (We’re more emotional than we’d like to admit sometimes.) Please do take action to help your child follow his dreams and find success in life, but please take it slowly. Sometimes, as hard as it is, you just need to stop and think. When you understand your child and what he needs from you, you’re much better prepared. That’s the best mental map for your fatherhood.
Another great benefit of understanding your child is that it will naturally lead to a tighter bond with him or her.

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