The term “man up” gets used a lot in our society. It typically means things like “don’t cry” or “tough it out.” But what if “manning up” is actually about taking responsibility for those under your care?
Now’s The Time to “Man Up”
Culturally, the notion of being a man is equated with strength, muscle, and grit. We think about people like John Wayne, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Pacino, or Clint Eastwood. It’s about being physically strong and mentally tactful, yet able to suppress emotions and tough out bad circumstances. But these are just Hollywood-esque traits of what it means to be a man.
A real man doesn’t need bulging muscles, a holstered gun on his hip, or clever words that woo over attractive women. A real man steps into responsibility, rejects passivity, and pursues those around him with purpose. And if there were ever a time to “man up,” it’s when you have a baby on the way.
A baby changes everything for a man. This is a unique inflection point in your life. You can choose to run (physically and/or emotionally), or you can step in and embrace your new role. And if you’re going to do the latter, it starts today. By making wise decisions today in preparation for the arrival of your child, you can set yourself up to be a good father from day one.
Here are a few specific decisions you can make to move down the right path:
1. Find Career Stability
When you’re young, single, and without kids, you have the ability to bounce around from job to job. Changing career paths and pivoting from one “calling” to the next is fine. You have the freedom to discover yourself. Once you have a child, it’s important that you get focused.
Having a child doesn’t mean you’re locked into the same job for the next 20 years. It does, however, suggest it’s time to establish a little career stability. The challenge is to find a job that (a) provides enough money to pay the bills, (b) gives you the flexibility to spend time with your family, and (c) has upward mobility with room for increasing income over time.
2. Get Out of Debt
Debt is a huge part of American culture. It’s so common that most people don’t see anything wrong with having tens of thousands of dollars of debt to their names. But if you want to eliminate stress and establish greater financial security, now’s the time to get out of debt.
There’s nothing wrong with a reasonable mortgage, but any other type of debt needs to get paid down and cleared as quickly as possible. This includes credit card debt, student loan debt, and even car debt.
Not sure where to start when tackling debt? Begin by establishing a budget so you can see precisely how much cash you have coming and going each month. From there, strip out unnecessary expenses and apply every last dime to paying down your debt balances.
3. Purchase Life Insurance
When you’re young and single, you don’t have anyone depending on you for financial support. When you have a child, you suddenly have a family that needs you. In addition to finding career stability and getting out of debt, go ahead and purchase a 20-year term life insurance policy.
A life insurance policy provides your beneficiaries (spouse, kids, etc.) with a set amount of money should you pass away. This money can be used to provide short-term assistance and/or longtime help (like college education). Just make sure you choose the right policy from the right provider. There are some bad life insurance companies on the market (in terms of paying out claims). Try your best to avoid them.
4. Be There (Physically and Emotionally)
As a father, being present is extremely important. Not only do you need to be physically present in your child’s life from the very start, but you also need to make yourself emotionally available. This is one of the defining characteristics that sets good dads apart from everyone else.
Be the Man Your Family Needs
A baby is the greatest gift, but it also commands a lot from you as a man. By embracing this new role as father, you’ll show everyone around you what it means to “man up.” And over time, as more men pursue this version of what it means to be a man, we’ll slowly start to change the narrative and raise happier and healthier children who have a clear idea of what they’re expected to grow into as they get older.
This content is sponsored by Larry Alton.