Reading about fatherhood this morning in The Way of the Wild Heart by John Eldredge. I read Wild at Heart about 10 years ago. Well, most of it. I need to go back and reread it. These are both great books for men to read, especially fathers. Mothers should actually read them, too, to understand MEN. While reading this I am thinking about how blessed I am to have my boys. I have three. My little princess is not so little anymore. She’s 19.
Having three boys is a real hoot. My 17 year old is the Alpha of the three. He plays football, the chicks dig him, he’s the same size as me and is your “typical” teenage boy. My 15 year old is the brainy one. He wants to be a robotic engineer. He mines crypto currency in his bedroom with a few laptops and a desktop he built himself. My 6 year old is a mix of the older two. He’s inquisitive about all things, likes to take things apart and build but he also likes to punch, run through the woods barefoot, shoot guns and wrestle. I couldn’t be happier with the diversity we have in our home. My wife truly is Wonder Woman to put with her 3 boys and 1 large boy.
Reading this book I am reminded of my own childhood and my relationship with my father. I am reminded of how important it is for fathers to “be present” in their child’s lives. Especially boys and their dads. Boys need their mom to learn the velvet side of life. How to have mercy and be tender, use deodorant and take showers. But the father is the one who trains the young warriors of the house. As boys we love to watch our dads. We love to watch our dad’s hands working a craft of some sort. I used to sit on the front porch with my Grandpa Ralph and whittle twigs with him. He gave me my first pocket knife that I still have to this day. He helped me choose the right stick and taught me how to shave away from me to create a little spear. See, our family of Hood’s has a rich history of farmers and working men. I used to think that the hands of the Hood men were HUGE!! I’d watch my grandpa and his brothers tie bags of fescue seed when they’d all come together to harvest it with their big shiny Gleaner combines. Those were the best days. My dad and his brothers would be out there as well. I remember climbing in the hopper of one of those big ole combines to swim in the seeds with my cousin. It was all about the togetherness and the adventure.
Now, I’m not perfect and I still have my moments when “I’m really busy”. I hate that but boys need to learn patience, too. Boys tend to emulate their fathers. At least that’s what is natural. Boys yearn for our love and acceptance. Boys want to learn from us and want to be big and strong like us. I’ve spent so much time away from my children when they were younger. That’s my biggest regret. I was traveling around the world doing Army stuff and stuff in the private sector. I’ve spent so much time in the field training for war. I always thought to myself, “I’m doing what I love and I’m providing for my family”. Well, that came at a price. I said something to my daughter a couple years ago about not being able to show her that when she was younger. She said, “That’s ok, dad. Let’s get real. You weren’t around that much while I was growing up anyway”. Talk about a punch in the gut. I don’t think she meant it to be mean but just stating the facts. Do you want your kids to remember you that way? What do you do in your free time? Are you spending it with your kids?
For me, I choose to end it with me. My dad was gone a lot while I was growing up. He was a great dad but he was doing what so many men do. He traveled and worked to provide for us. Looking back, however, I think I’d rather have been without certain things just to have him around more. I didn’t think about it much at the time but I think about it now as I look back at all the ballgames he missed. I try to spend as much time with him as possible and I enjoy the moments we have together.
Men…we have one shot in life on this rock. Make it count. Create that legacy for your children. Even if you feel you don’t have time for those quick moments when your son wants to show you something he built, make that time. Young men and boys seek our acceptance as fathers. They want to show us what they did or what they can do. Give them an audience. If you’re an unskilled father, that’s fine. Go learn those skills WITH your son. Take a class together; learn to do things together. We are teaching, raising, and guiding tomorrow’s leaders. Our boys need us.
“Be the change you want to see in the world”