187 – A Family Tradition…our responsibility as men

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A Family Tradition…our responsibility as men

Welcome one and all to Being A Better Man.  The podcast that is focused on the character of men…for the sake of the rest of the world.  My name is Alf Herigstad, I’m your host, and I am very glad you are listening today.

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If you have been listening for awhile, you know that these episodes cover a pretty wide range of topics, but they all ultimately relate to our life as men, and being a better man than we were yesterday.

You may have wondered how I come up with the topics I talk about, and how I decide what to talk about on any given day.  Well basically, I just look around in the world.  I see whats going on.  I listen to the news and see what people are talking about on social media, and I ponder what effect it all has on the state of manhood in the world.  Usually there is something that is sticking in my brain more than other things, and I talk about that.

Today there is something sticking in my brain, and I need to talk about it.  This doesn’t come to me from the world at large, but rather from my own life.  It’s a very personal topic for me.  Today I’m talking about family.  More specifically, the importance of family customs and traditions, and our role as men within our families.

I got to thinking about this because my son and his daughter are in town for a visit from Michigan.  One of the things my family likes to do when we all get together, is sing.  We are a very musical family.  The creation or appreciation of music is something that we share.  So we all went out as a family for a night of Karaoke.

I was singing, so was my brother and my son and daughter.  Watching my children sing always gives me goosebumps, because it sort of defines them as members of our clan, doing something that has been passed along from one generation to the next.  I sang a duet with my son, and that was a lot of fun.  My brother is amazing to listen to and frequently gets standing ovations.

Then I looked at my father.  The patriarch of the family, my mentor, the same man who molded me from his example of what it means to be a man.  He doesn’t sing because his hearing is pretty bad, he’s 81 years old now.  He was sitting there watching all of us, and I could see the pride and joy in his eyes as he watched his progeny demonstrate their togetherness through music and enjoy each others company.  It was one of those moments when I thought “That’s what life is all about.”  This moment is one of the rewards of a life well lived.

My daughter took a picture of him as he was watching one of us singing.  I used that picture for this episode because it really captured that moment.  Its the picture at the top of this page.  That’s my dad.

It was a good night.  It was one of many that we have shared throughout my life.  Often when we are sitting as a group we are either telling each other stories, or my brother is playing his guitar and we are singing.  Singing and telling stories are two things that bind us together and reenforce our bonds as a family.

Many families have such customs.  I have known some families who’s traditions center more around meals, or cookouts, or games they play.  Some families might be brought together by certain activities like hiking or biking or even watching sports together.  Whatever it is, these family customs serve a vital role in strengthening the bonds between family members.

As a man, I feel it is a responsibility of mine to encourage these customs, like my father always has.  It is a hope of mine that one day I when I am in my 80’s I can sit and watch with pride as my progeny engages in the activities that have defined us as a family for several generations.  Maybe one of my grand daughters will take a picture of me enjoying that moment.

I realize we don’t all come from close families, or large families.  Many families are fractured and broken, their customs and traditions lost to the past.  Its unfortunate, but it is a reality as well.  Still others of us, a good number in fact, may not have any blood family at all, but you still have chosen family.  People with whom you are bound and related to, through experience and love.

My message today is for all men though.  Wether you are blessed with a close family or if you find yourself struggling to keep a fractured family together, or you are a member of a chosen family unrelated by blood.  Your responsibility to your family is the same in either case. 

If your family has customs and traditions that bring you together then it’s your job to encourage those things, to instigate them and facilitate them.  To make sure they continue for the sake of future generations.

If your family doesn’t have such customs, then its your job to start them, to invent them.  Find something that you all have an aptitude or an appreciation for, and set time aside to enjoy that activity as a family.  Don’t wait for someone else to do it, be the man in your family, and cause it to happen.  Become a positive agent of change that will make your family closer.

If you do this you will be rewarded.  One day you will find yourself like me, or my dad, watching your family being related, enjoying each others company, taking pride in the fact that you are all tied together by something that you enjoy, which also defines you as a group, as a family.  It’s one of the many rewards of a life well lived.

Now head out into the world and remember to cherish those that you call your family.  Treat all of your relationships as though they are the most valuable things you possess, because they are.  Tomorrow is not promised to any of us, so we only have today to make a difference, don’t waste it.  Along the way, as you do these things, you will become a better man today, than you were yesterday.

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