This is a sensitive subject matter for me. I am a father. Heck, I am a grandfather. I am also a mentor to young boys and girls. Some of my interactions are of the casual hit and miss based on time and opportunity. And some are more intimately detailed. Regardless, I see all children as our most precious resource. I know that today kids are smarter, quicker and more savvy than ever before. They have more access to technology and the fast pace of the world seems to fit right in with their ability to absorb information and the flavor of their environment.
Sometimes when you talk to little children, they amaze us as they seem to have the spirits of adults. This is no doubt of God’s potential placed in them as they seem to be ready for most any challenge. Still I know children carry way too much responsibility and stress these days as they are often left to fend for themselves as single mothers struggle to hold things together. Or oftentimes young parents may be too much into themselves seeking to live their glorious days and nights at the expense of their young.
I’d be the first to tell you. There is no manual to this thing. Parenting is a huge challenge. Still I believe that we have to stop and take notice of the young people around us. In their eyes there is a hope, an anticipation, a longing to first find the love from their base. (the parents) There is a need for physical and emotional security from the base especially as they branch out to intermingle with other children. There is a demand for direction and structure, so that they understand respect and boundaries. There is a need for vision, for someone to recognize their gifts, talents and abilities and to teach and encourage them to pursue those and not just follow the crowd.
As precious as our mothers and sisters are, I believe there is a need for strong men to provide a lot of the structure needed to help our young people succeed. Images are important. And the state of a man in a child’s life tends to determine many a fate of our children. If a strong and committed man is present and active, kids tend to stabilize. If he is absent or out of place, it complicates and destabilizes. This is not some sexist statement minimizing the abilities or contributions of women and mothers. To the contrary, I am saying that they can’t do it by themselves and they have done far too much as it is trying to hold down both sides of the bar.
Men and specifically fathers need to step up and dedicate their lives towards investing into their children. Period! That means financially as well as with their presence. By presence I mean time, but I also mean making the best of that time. There has been occasion for instance where I spent time with my youngest daughter. And because of the schedule I hold working three jobs including writing, that I would pick her up and take her someplace, but my mind would be in rest mode or all over the place scattered as I answered calls and took care of business or arranged appointments while we rode to some place we’d go to. But my spirit made me recognize that I was cheating my daughter out of my full attention. I need to hear how her day or her week was. I needed to listen as she talked about her relationships at school and the new accessory for her DS game. I got with the program quick! She gets my full attention at all times now. We talk, we laugh, and we hug many times over. She knows she has a daddy that will lead, love, and respect her as she makes her way through adolescence and beyond.
I’m old school. I believe in respect when it comes to kids and adults. I still say, “Yes ma’am,” and “No sir,” even if the person is younger than me. So I don’t tolerate any disrespect at all from young people. However, I also know that I need to make a connection with them. I need to look into their eyes, and likewise respect their gifts, talents, and the seriousness with which their issues mean to them. It’s a two way street.
When men start to step into our places and take responsibility for our children, and then also to a smaller degree the other children we come into contact with, we will be setting the course for a better tomorrow for our families, our communities and our nation.
Men, fathers, take your places! It’s good for the soul, and great for the world!