064 – Father’s Day

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Father’s Day…

Today’s episode is in honor of Father’s day, which is why I am releasing it today instead of tomorrow.  There won’t be a Monday episode this week.  I had the pleasure of being with my dad today, he is 80 years old and doing great.  I also got to spend time with some of my kids and Grandkids

In preparation for this show I went back and listened to the episode I did for Mother’s day, Episode 46.  I wanted to be sure I didn’t repeat myself, I didn’t want it to be too similar.  But as I listened to that episode I realized that there isn’t much danger of that, because Father’s and Mother’s really are two very different things.  Equally important, but different.

I’ve talked a lot about my dad on this show, because he was the major influence in my life when it comes to being a man.  He was my model, so it stands to reason he would come up.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…he is a great man, the best man I have ever known and I’m so fortunate to have had him for a father, and now…as a great friend as well. 

I could easily spend this whole episode talking about my dad and how awesome he is, but I don’t think that would be that helpful to anyone.  So instead I would like to just talk about fatherhood itself.  The problem is…I don’t want to be too negative, and thats tough. 

The reason it’s tough to not be too negative is because when you start talking about the wondrous gift that fatherhood is both to the children and the fathers…it’s hard to ignore the fact that there are tons of guys out there right now making babies and walking away, with no intention of ever being actual fathers…and most of those guys doing that never had fathers either.

So you see my predicament; I would like to make an uplifting inspirational message for fathers day and at the same time my heart is breaking for the thousands of children out there who have been abandoned or mistreated by their fathers.

Tell you what…I’ll narrow my focus and see if that helps.  Instead of thinking about the whole world or the the whole country, I’ll narrow it down to just the men in this audience who are listening to this program.

Of the men listening to this program you probably fall into one of five categories; 

  1. Guys that had great dads who were always there.

  2. Guys that had OK dads.

  3. Guys that were raised by a step dad or an uncle or a grandfather instead of your biological dad. So you had intermittent father figures

  4. Guys that had a dad but he wasn’t a good guy, he was possibly abusive or alcoholic, he was a bad dad.

  5. Guys that had no father at all.

Of course there are little nuances and differences to every situation, but basically, these are the five categories.  You’ll notice I didn’t make a distinction for guys who were adopted, because you will still fall into one of these categories.

As you consider which group you are in, it’s almost automatic that you start making a list of pros and cons in your mind, you can’t really help it.  If your dad was abusive you immediately see how that affected you and influenced your own behavior and decisions.  If your dad was just ok you might remember the good things he did but also make note of what was missing.  If you didn’t have a dad then you start thinking of all the ways that affected you.

The point is…what this illuminates is…the massive impact fatherhood, or the lack thereof has on children, either good or bad.  Each one of you can plainly see the impact your experience with fatherhood had in your life.  Fatherhood is one half of the parental equation, a full one half.  But our court systems and society sometimes acts as though it is a minor role…and that is incredibly unfortunate.  I have seen some improvement in this over the past few years, but we still have a ways to go.

Another point to consider when thinking about these five fatherhood categories is that each one of these categories has produced fine, exceptional men in spite of the advantages or disadvantages of each category.  Likewise, each one of these categories has produced men that are not even worthy of the title of ‘man’.  Some men have rose above their circumstance and prevailed in spite of their situation, while others have become victims of their situation and have used their disadvantage or even their advantage…as an excuse to behave badly.

So what does that mean?  Ultimately it all comes down to the individual doesn’t it?  Regardless of your situation it all comes down to you, the individual making a decision about what kind of man you are going to be.  Wether you had a great dad, or no dad, everyone arrives at the same point when they have to make that decision.

It’s true, the guy with no dad may have to try much harder and seek out mentors and teachers.  The child of an alcoholic abuser will have much bigger obstacles than the guy who had a great dad.  The world was not designed to be fair and we shouldn’t expect that it will be.  There are men who prevail…there are men who make the right decision in spite of how unfortunate their circumstance may be, and as I’ve said before…what one man can do, another can do. 

When the time comes for a man to make a decision about what kind of man he is going to be, wether to rise above his circumstance or wallow in victimhood…there are no valid excuses.  As men we are wholly responsible for every decision we make.  To blame our childhood, our circumstances, our situations or the people in our lives…is an exercise in weakness.  Instead it is within our power to make a different choice, a choice born in strength.  In order to make that choice you have to first be aware that it exists, and that is one of the purposes of this podcast.

That’s the good news, thats the uplifting part of this episode that I want to focus on…the fact that the choice exists and it is yours to make.  When we wake up everyday we have a brand new opportunity to make different choices than we made the day before.  It’s completely up to us.  It’s easy to lose sight of that and get caught in a rut of behavior but the truth is…we can change direction at any time and chart a new coarse.

The final point I want to make for Father’s day is this…All of you are Father’s or potential fathers.  Or, if you never have kids it’s still likely you will fill a fatherhood role at one time or another.  In my opinion being a father is perhaps the best thing about being a man, it is perhaps the highest calling of our manhood.

Now consider again the 5 categories I mentioned earlier.  Now think of your children or potential children and make a decision on their behalf about which of those categories they will grow up in…because it is completely up to you.  This is one area in which the ball is completely in your court.  The only person who can determine what kind of father your child has…is you.

Remember that massive impact that fatherhood has on children?  You are that massive impact! 

I made a ton of mistakes as a father and you will too.  We can beat ourselves up about it or we can keep on trying to do better.  The past is gone, sure we can learn from it and reflect on it but aside from that it is irrelevant.  The only thing that really matters  is the moment you are living in and the choices you make in that moment.  What you do in the present is the only thing that can affect the future.

Well I think thats it for today guys.  Now head out into the world and make a choice to be a great dad.  Spend time with your kids, get to know them, teach them what you know, be an example of a man who is constantly being a better man today than he was yesterday.   Do that…and your life will be a rich one.

Happy Father’s day!

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