It’s not cool to be a dad.
At least, that’s the message you’d get if you’re paying attention to popular culture.
When you see dads on TV you get some goofball, like Phil Dunphy of Modern Family. Or, a fat, lazy slob like Homer Simpson. Even great TV role models, like Bill Cosby, turn out to be huge let-downs in real life.
To many people, dads are benign at best and outright harmful at worst. Many people have had horrible experiences with dads, stepdads, and other adult men in their past.
If no one needs a man, then why should he show up?
So Thankful for Moms
On the other hand, almost everyone has a mom. Most people love their mother, because she was always there to provide for them.
Combine the positive presence of mothers with society’s overall push to elevate women, and it sends the message that men really aren’t needed anymore. If they won’t stick around or help, who needs them?
I am not suggesting that women don’t deserve recognition for their contributions to our families, and society as a whole. Mothers deserve great respect for how they make this world a better place. Women in general do not deserve to be treated worse than men in any way. My intention is not to promote a negative view of women and mothers.
Where Are All the Good Men?
Rather, it’s almost as if men are being written out of their own stories.
Let me quote a well-known author, John Eldredge from his book, Wild At Heart Revised and Updated: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul:
A man is fierce…passionate…wild at heart? You wouldn’t know it from what normally walks around in a pair of trousers…how come there are so many lonely women, so many fatherless children, so few men around? Why is it that the world seems filled with “caricatures” of masculinity? — John Eldredge, Wild At Heart Revised and Updated: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul
If no one needs a man, then why should he show up? If he goes to work and provides a paycheck for his family, what more is there to do?
If he’s working so hard, then what’s wrong with grabbing a few beers with the guys every night after work? What’s so bad about propping his feet up to enjoy an evening of Sports Center or Netflix?
I have many friends and acquaintances who think this way. I’m sure you know some men like this, too.
This attitude totally neglects the important role a dad plays in the life of a family. When father’s actively engage with their children, they have better educational outcomes, are more stable in their relationships, and experience more life satisfaction. Not only do the children benefit, but mothers have a much better quality of life when there is an involved father. This is good for both the family, and society as a whole.
[If you want to read an excellent summary of current research on the importance of being an involved dad, check out this review article.]
Do you want to be a good dad?
First, decide to become the best man you can, both for yourself and your family. Not just in the sense of physical fitness, but being “suitable to fulfill a particular role or task”.
You need to be physically fit to lead your kids, not follow them from behind. But, you also need to be mentally, emotionally and spiritually fit to model healthy adult relationships.
Here’s my challenge:
- Get off the sidelines and get involved in your family.
- Make your health a priority, for your own sake and that of your family.
- Educate yourself on ways to be a better dad.
- Work in your community to fight negative stereotypes of dads, and promote positive ones.
I wonder how many men and women out there are thinking the same thing as me?
If enough dads are willing to commit to becoming their best self, then I think there’s a lot of hope for our families.
Maybe, all it takes is someone standing up with a call to action.
Maybe we’ll see more men take the challenge to be a great dad.
Maybe we’ll have more kids that think their dad is the coolest guy on earth.
Just because it isn’t cool to be a dad right now, doesn’t mean it isn’t still the most important thing a man can do.
Does this idea resonate with you? Does it call you out? Will you take steps to be the best dad you can be?
Resolve today to do the best you can. Then, make a plan of actionable steps to start improving one area of your life.
Speaking from experience, once one are of life starts to improve, the others will be easier to work on.
I would love to hear your thoughts, and your success stories. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, leave a note below.
Let’s make being a great dad something to aspire to again!