Recently my family was stricken with a crisis. I recently learned that my older teen son was introduced to sex by another older teen, his step-brother. Upon receiving this disturbing news I immediately fell to the floor and begin to cry and for a moment was inconsolable in my anguish. My emotions ran the gamut. I went from hurt, to confused, to angry, then back to hurt. I wondered how this could happen in my house, to my family, to my son. I attempted to gather myself because I needed to know how I was now going to help my sons. You see I thought I had covered all the bases. I mean we have had the sex talk plenty of times and I had been very forthcoming and candid in those talks. So I thought. What was I going to do now? What was I going to say? My family was in crisis. I had to decide quickly how I was going to handle this situation. I was going to find out tonight, as a father, what I was really made of.
It was then I chose to not look at this crisis as a time of trouble but to look at it as an opportunity. It was an opportunity for me to demonstrate to my sons the same love and grace God shows me on a daily basis. So I pondered on what kinds of character traits I would need to exhibit that night and all the days thereafter in order to demonstrate the love of God and I came up with the following:
Be a good listener. Oftentimes our children are trying to tell us what going on. We must not only listen with our ears but with our hearts. This is especially true for boys. From a young age they learn that men/boys are not to share their feelings so we must really take advantage. We must learn to listen for the underlying meaning and feelings. We have to pay just as much attention to how our kids say something as we do to what they are saying. When we listen we unconsciously communicate to them that what they feel, think and say matters.
Be Understanding. Sometimes our own emotions can get the best of us and we can easily forget that we are not the only person dealing with a crisis. We have to keep our emotions in check. Children may take emotional cues from us. Try to create a loving, trusting environment.
Be Affectionate. In times of crisis families need one another more now than before. Your child needs to see that you love them the same if not more in times of crisis.
Be a Protector. As the father we are charged with protecting our families. That means we now have to Be Proactive. We have to walk out in front, anticipating the pitfalls. We have to make sure we do not place our children in harm’s way. This means monitoring more closely who they hang out with, what they watch, and how you act in front of them. Learn from past experiences and respond with a more productive approach. We have to set boundaries. Think about basketball. If there were no boundaries player would be running everywhere. You would have players running out of bounds, going back and forth from one side of the court to the other, making passes from the stands. It would be a mess. Boundaries are in place to maintain some sort of control and order.
Be Engaged. A good father is an involved father. Take to the time to learn about what is going on in their lives. Meet their friends. Invite them over. You can prevent a lot of things from happening if you learn more about the company your child keeps. Spend time quality time with doing whatever. You would be amazed at what they will talk to you about in these times.
Be Consistent. In such a busy, fast-paced world it can be very hard to be consistent. We think it is just too much but I have found that it is easier than we think. We are consistent with trivial things every day. I know a woman who takes her smoke break the same time every day. Many of the people in my office get there coffee at the same time, made the same way every day. If you examine your own daily life you will find several consistencies in it as well. Now ask yourself, are any of these more important than my child’s wellbeing. I would hope that if you are reading this then your answer is a resounding no.
Lastly, Be Present. You can do none of the abovementioned items if you are not there. Our kids need us to be there. They need our provision, love, care, strength, compassion, but most of all our time.
I have resolved to use this situation to become an even better father than I was already striving to become. I am proud to be a dad and I take that role more seriously now. And though I don’t wish times of crisis for anyone, I have learned that it is in those times we find out what we are made of. It is then we learn the Anatomy of a Father.
Please enjoy this poem by an unknown author.
A Dad is a person
who is loving and kind,
And often he knows
what you have on your mind.
He's someone who listens,
suggests, and defends.
A dad can be one
of your very best friends!
He's proud of your triumphs,
but when things go wrong,
A dad can be patient
and helpful and strong
In all that you do,
a dad's love plays a part.
There's always a place for him
deep in your heart.
And each year that passes,
you're even more glad,
More grateful and proud
just to call him your dad!
Thank you, Dad...
for listening and caring,
for giving and sharing,
but, especially, for just being you!
Happy Father's Day