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In my last post about courage, this comment was submitted:
"Taking your kid to the playground counts as 'courage'? Seriously?"
It got me thinking:
Compared to the life-saving heroics some citizens take every single day, a trip to the park is mere child's play.
While the majority of us are not fighting actual wars, curing diseases or handcuffing bad guys, there is a sense in culture today that families – specifically dads – are in trouble.
The wars we face might result from an icy relationship with a spouse. The medicine we administer fights off the disease of apathy. The bad guys we catch are ourselves – caught in a cycle of violence.
The truth is that it takes courage to build any relationship. Relationships are risky. You could invest large amounts of conversation, time and attention and end up with nothing more than a broken heart shattered by another person.
Why would you think parenting is any different?
It takes courage to talk to your kids about sex. It takes courage to tell your kids the truth about your past. It takes courage to open your budget to show your kids how much you make.
The military doesn't send raw recruits straight into battle. Medical school students aren't handed a scalpel on the first day of class. Rookie cops aren't given keys to a cruiser before they've been to the police academy.
They all go through training first, knowing that the days are coming when they'll have to pull the trigger, open a body, pursue a criminal. And, with courage, they prepare themselves with a successful end in mind.
In the same way, we don't talk to our kids about sex when they are in diapers. We don't teach them about finances during "tummy time." We don't give them the keys to a cruiser when they are sticking cereal in every crook and cranny within arm's reach.
We train them with age-appropriate skills, knowing that the days are coming when they'll be on their own, with their own money, in their own car.
The parent-child training ground is filled with obstacles that will make you both stronger:
Conversations are push-ups.
Time is barbed wire.
Attention is the bugler's trumpet at sunrise.
And, with courage, we prepare them with a successful end in mind.
With courage, we set them on a trajectory that will make the world a better place.
With courage, we take our kids to the park because it's in these everyday moments that we train them to become the women, men, wives, husbands, moms and dads God wants them to be.
What does courage look like for you as a father?
Sam Hoover (@sam_hoover) is a contributor for Dad Matters and the Assistant Manager for Social Media for Focus on the Family.
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This is coming from a stay at home dad of two boys. Take your time to be as honest (age appropriate ) & truthful as you can. They remember more than you think. They want to know about "stuff" or they wouldn't ask. If you don't tell them they will get their answer from somewhere else. Friends are not always a good source. Be bold. You can do it.
Great advice: "Take your time to be as honest and truthful as you can." The RIGHT answer isn't always the BEST answer because it may be RIGHT for you and not BEST for your kids.
I've done some of the so called heroics, and can tell any man listening that talking to my son about some of the issues facing them today was much tougher. Even tougher was making the time and walking the talk.
Well said, Sam. Courage obviously will look different for all of us. I remember the other day with my 14 year old son and I had to apologize for my behavior. Trust me, that took courage...it was not easy to do, but absolutely a requirement if his heart meant more than my pride. Keep up the great work...
Yes, it takes courage to openly and apparently go against the grain of what society preaches. That can take many forms, even and especially ones as simple as 'doing nothing' and spending time with kids.
My father never once took me to the playground, never taught me to play catch or hit a ball or the rules to any of the games. I suffered greatly from this. I thought I was terrible at sports (in fact, I'm quite athletic but only discovered this after high school when I finally developed physical skills past a certain point). His own father was almost a professional baseball player but never taught him any of those sports. And my father was, and still is, obese.
So you'd better *believe* it would have taken courage for him to face into his life problems; to set out to overcome his deficits; to lose some weight and actually, while teaching me how to do sports and be the world's kind of man through sports and other activities, have actually spent enough time with me to teach me how to be Jesus' kind of man, too.
I can trace so many of the most severe problems in my life back to my father's neglect of me. My brother fared no better. Just consider the fact that I am still struggling, as a 40-year-old man, to overcome the effects of childhood school bullying that my father never ONCE truly helped me with except for two circumstances where he was forced to become involved--and then quickly ignored the issue again. I was so afraid of my father's anger if he heard I'd been fighting that I didn't stick up for myself for many, many years. When I finally did get in a fight (and lost the fight, but gained respect from others and some self-respect) my Dad was, to my utter surprise, somewhat supportive.
I can only hope that I have the courage to overcome my own wounds and offer a different kind of relationship to my own son. A relationship where I spend *time* with him, even if it's boring, and work, and annoying. A relationship where my son trusts me and will come to me with his problems instead of remaining silent in despair, believing that asking for help would do no good. A relationship where my son at age 6 has already heard more about God's plan for sex and marriage than I ever heard from my father, *ever*. (Compare my father's *single* attempt to talk about "pooberty" with me, where I foolishly said I knew everything already, and he was oh-so-foolishly relieved and quickly left.) His legacy to me was to leave me an anchorless, ignorant, unconfident, tortured young man, unprepared for life, who still struggles to properly apprehend God's active care for me.
It is *hard* for me to take my son to the park. So don't be knocking those Dads who have the courage--yes, COURAGE--to overcome their brokenness and do what must be done for their kids. Courage, and determination, and commitment, and a whole lot of God's mercy and power and love to make up for all that we lack.
The one honored Title that I could hold over my many years on this World is Daddy. Even though my children are grown and gone, I still get a lump in my throat when I hear a little one call out to their Daddy. Jesus called His Father "ABBA", Daddy. Rejoice in this postion men of courage. Thank You Shoedog78
Being humble enough to apologize takes lots of courage...and is absolutely necessary. I applaud those dads that have been man enough to say "I'm wrong" and "I'm sorry." Way to go Dads!
For the dad who posted at 12:46 this morning....wow. Your post truly moved me...you are absolutely correct in saying that it takes "COURAGE" to overcome our brokenness. Every single dad everyday is unpacking the truths of your post whether we realize it or not. I just want to encourage you to "keep fighting the good fight." I hope you know it is not just for your children...but your grandchildren and great grandchildren. You have drawn a line in the sand and say, "Not on my watch will I let harm come to my family because I was too busy." I hope you will continue journeying with us...thanks again for sharing your story.