I come from a long line of awesome men in my family tree. Both of my granddads were awesome and genuinely kind. My Papa Bob (the one with the white hair from a few posts ago) could do about anything he put his hands to: Teaching, carpentry, repairs, tech stuff, starting businesses and community organizations, etc. My other granddad, Papa Keith was very smart and started a very successful business, involved in community organizations, knew everything there was to know about fishing, and the first person ever to show me how to use a computer.
Don’t even think about challenging me to a DOS billiards game. I got that junk on lock down.
But I want to talk about my father for a bit. Because he's just that great. :) My dad is by far the most talented and giving man I have ever met. He’s the kind of person who is ultra smart (like knows the answer to EVERY question on jeopardy). He can fix anything and is always the first person I call when anything breaks. He was a Nurse Anesthetist for the major of his career, but he and my mom gave up that high paying salary to start and run a food pantry which fed 10,000’s of people and was one of the biggest food pantries in the county. He’s the type of person that can pretty much figure anything out if he tries. He knows how to do everything from beekeeping to hand crafting & forging knives. That’s why I love helping him with tech things. It’s like the one thing I get more than him. It’s not much, but it’s like the only contribution I feel I give to our relationship.
“Ok Seth, I fixed your lawn mower, reset your broken finger, changed your brake pads, hand carved you a 4 piece wooden salad set, and looked over all of your financial stuff. Need me to do anything else?"
“No thanks dad. Ummm… I fixed the email on your phone.”
Growing up, my dad always taught me the importance of hard work, not complaining, and thinking of others before yourself. He was and still is always doing something to help someone. Most importantly, him, my mom, and all my grandparents told me from an early age the main reason we are on this Earth, to just love Jesus and to be Jesus to others. My parents have a closeness with God that I just love and admire. (Side note: God is always close to us, it’s our choice to draw closer to him in our daily lives.) Since the moment I was conceived, my parents prayed for me. He always gathered the family together before bed and prayed for us. I loved that as a kid. It always made me feel so safe. Because he’s so modest he would never admit how great of a dad he is, but his influence has really shaped my life. Mostly it was the things he would do when no one was looking. He’s a man of character and the best in my book. Since I’m grown with my own children now, I really try to follow in the footsteps my family laid out before me. Thank you for believing and always encouraging me. I honestly don't know where I would be without your calm demeanor, spiritual peace, and unending encouragement
For this post, I want to discuss what I think makes a “real man” and how I try to pass on these values to my own son. Our culture has a pretty clear definition of what a real man looks like. I think it disagree with what that is.
We need to make the Pyramid of Greatness a mandatory course in school for all male students.
Side Note: Ron Swanson's the freaking man.
However, for the most part, I have my own set of values and ideas of what makes a real man. In my book a man should above all have a few characteristics “Integrity, Self-Sacrifice, Hard Work Ethic, and Love”. To be clear, I pretty much am horrible at most things “manly”. I am the worst at building things, not much muscle tone at all, don’t make a ton of money, my main hobby is doing little crafts with my kids, and my attempting to fix a car problem are hilarious to watch to say the least.
“Hey guys, I fixed the van’s AC.”
In my mind though, I’m becoming more of a real man that I ever have been just raising my kids. It doesn’t matter how much you can bench press or what your bank account looks like, if you don’t have true integrity. Being honest and doing what you say means more than anything else. I want to be a man of my word (like my dad and granddads). I want my own son to know that if dad says something, it means 100% the binding truth.
Self-sacrifice is a concept that I believe our culture kind of skims over. In my opinion, a man needs to put others before himself, especially his family. I think a lot of men view this as working hard so their family can have a better life. I totally agree with that idea, but there’s so much more to be considered. If a man works hard, but then just leaves his wife and kids to go have fun with his buddies after work or just clocks out in front of the tv on a regular basis, he may need to rethink his idea of self-sacrifice. We, as men, need to not only focus on the financial well being and physical safety of the family, but the all-around emotional and mental health of the family. That might mean skipping out of what I want to do, to do what someone else wants to do (washing the dishes or having a Minnie Mouse tea party for the 4th time this week). We have to learn what each member of our family needs from us and try our best to offer specifically that. That doesn’t mean that we should sacrifice doing things for ourselves or spending time cultivating our interests or hobbies. We just need to be the pillar of our families, giving all we have to ensure everyone we are supporting that we are there no matter what.
A hard work ethic is something most men understand and strive to have. It’s hard wired into our DNA. Generally when a man is lazy, it’s just a sad sight. This doesn’t mean a man has to be big breadwinner or work himself to death. There were times in our marriage before kids, where Crissy made more money than me. I worked part time, went to school full time, and took care of the kids. (I struggled with that. I like to work.) However, I put all I had into what I was doing. I think that’s the main thing. If you see a problem, work hard educating yourself, learning from your mistakes, and giving every problem as much of your full attention as you can muster. If we are being real men, it’s tough. We are pulled in a ton of different directions. We have a lot to balance, especially if we work and have a family. Every one of us are going to make mistakes, but showing genuine passion to lead and the desire to work hard will allow us grace to screw up from time to time.
Finally, I think showing love kind of wraps all of masculinity together. I’m not talking about “touchy feely” kind of stuff. I’m talking about really showing love to people. Even the strong silent type of man can sometimes be the best example. For instance, my ex-father in law (Crissy’s dad, Steve) is a great example. If you met Steve, he won’t dive into his feelings or ask you about yours. Even though he mind not see himself like this, he is the kind of guy that just loves people. He is constantly putting others before himself, he works harder than almost any human I have ever met, and he is a man of integrity. If he says something, he will do it. (Like most men, including myself, you might have to remind him a time or two, hahaha). But seriously though, even through the divorce, he (and Crissys mom Karen) would constantly tell me how proud they were of me and just offered a lot of support throughout not only the divorce, but since the first time we met.
When I first had two daughters, I wasn’t really that nervous. I think loving little girls is just so easy for a daddy. Just treat them like a princess and shower them with affection and encouragement. When I found out I was having a little boy, I can honestly say I was nervous. This little guy was going to be looking up to me as his main role model. Would I be an amazing role model, like my dad or Steve? I think at first I fell into the trap of just working and working. Trying to make the most money I could and let my wife take care of the kids emotional well being. Mostly, I think I was lacking in terms of being a strong leader and spiritual foundation in my house. I was funny, hard working, and involved in their lives, but I don’t think I truly discovered what being a real man was until the divorce. When I started to focus on these elements I’m talking about, I noticed a change in me but more importantly in my son.
He’s such an amazing little guy. Titus is the most giving, humble, self-sacrificing kid I have ever met. He has such empathy for others, it kind of blows my mind. Where the rest of my kids, give love in their own specific love language, Titus (at the age of 5) has without even knowing it learned to see others love language and give his affection accordingly. He gives without reserve (he gave away his Halloween candy to police officers), does little acts of kindness with no expectation of reward (today while everyone was playing in their rooms, he cleaned his bathroom top to bottom without being asked, just to make me smile), absolutely thrives on giving compliments, loves to hold hands with his friends, and will make special time to give to his sisters to make them feel special (for instance, he offered to be Neela’s helper for her new invention).
Love my best buddy
I love seeing all my kids happy and healthy. Seeing them being kind to others assures me that I’m doing a good job as a dad. However, seeing Titus showing these kinds of manly traits, encourages me that I am pouring the right things into him that he needs. Seeing Titus grow like this is probably the best physical proof, that I’m trying my best to the man I need to be for my family. I screw up a lot, but I think my kids know I'm give all of this my best attempt and constantly give me encouragement. Have I said lately that they are awesomely amazing in every way? :)