I find it interesting how in society a pendulum of sorts swings one way and then the other. When I was young, boys were taught to be strong. Fighting was a rite of passage of sorts. At least once a year, at pretty much every school, there’d be a meet-you-after-school scuffle between two kids which usually ended in nothing more than a few punches being thrown. I have no doubt that my father was in more than a few when he was young.
That was not me. My father was away a lot when I was little so my mother raised me. The result – I was a wimp. I hated being weak, but I never did anything about it. I could have joined the judo club but I wussed out.
I vowed that would not be my son. I’ve always pushed my son to be strong because I wanted him to be able to protect himself should the need arise. Next month he’ll turn 12, but he got his black belt in Karate at age 10 and will get a black belt in Aikido later this year. Two black belts on top of his already stellar swimming career.
Here, on The Good Men Project, I read a lot about new parenting, about how men should act in our new world. How telling your son to “man up” is wrong. Psychologists today often talk about how fragile some children are and how damaging it can be for their psyche to be pushed hard.
Me, I think just the opposite. I think we all need to be strong – both mentally and physically (and that applies to both boys and girls). Life is tough. It’s filled with heartache, accidents, costly mistakes, and bankruptcies. They all take a toll on us. We can’t shelter ourselves or our children from them forever, but by being stronger, we can better manage the inevitable pains of life we encounter.
My job as a dad is to help protect and prepare my son from the dangers that exist. As Oliver Queen in the TV series, Arrow says, “To do this I must become someone else. I must become something else.” Well, maybe not that dramatic, but I always strive to be a better father.
Most fathers I know simply send them son or daughter off to Karate lessons or swimming school. While it does work, I like to stack the odds in my favor which is why I decided to dad up. Heck, if I’m telling my son to man up then the least I can do is the same.
In just over a few days, my son will have been at home for two whole months. No Aikido. No Karate. No swimming. Nada. Thankfully, I joined my son in his Karate lessons (from age 38) and did the same when my son joined Aikido. Because of that, I’m now able to help my son train. I have no doubt in a few short years, he’ll far surpass me and then he’ll be able to teach me.
I have also spent an hour a day a few days a week reading to my son recently to take his English to the next level.
Like everyone, I look forward to getting back to normal life. But in the meantime, I need to up my game.
I know it’s not easy, especially now. However, if you find yourself with extra time on your hands, then it’s a chance to become an even better person. As I talked about in a previous article, there will be two types of people that emerge from this crisis, those that took advantage of it, and those that let it slip away and that includes us dads.
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Photo courtesy iStock.