There are at least two myths that are generally accepted as truth within the community of men. The first is amusing. Its that fantasy football is real. Look, I know some guys who prepare for the real fantasy football season with the determination, focus and secrecy of General Eisenhower planning for D-Day.
The second myth is that men have mastered the art of compartmentalizing their emotions so that they dont affect a guy's performance. Well, if you have been following Tiger Woods play recently, this myth is being dispelled before your eyes. Tiger is indeed in a "rough" and its going to take more than his trusty sand wedge to get him out of it. Make no mistake that men are whole people and what happens in Vegas never stays there. The consequences always follow you home.
That said, I think that the writer of this article makes some valid points when he suggests that Tiger needs to focus more on straightening out his fathering than trying to hit a straighter and longer shot from off the tee. Ironically, fathering is a lot like hitting a tee shot on the PGA tour. There are no mulligans. You only get one chance to get it right.
In 1970, the buzz in Hollywood was about the romantic movie Love Story
. The movie was nominated for 7 Academy Awards and made stars and household names of the young actors Ryan ONeal and Ali MacGraw. Even if you havent seen the movie or dont have it in your Netflix queue, you have most likely heard the famous line that MacGraws character uttered early in the film: Love means never having to say youre sorry.
Now, I was preteen when I first heard this line and even then it didnt sound quite right. Granted, I didnt know much about relationships and romance but I had done enough wrong to those that I loved to detect a flaw in the logicdespite the poetry of the line. Sadly, I must dispute the words of philosopher William James who once said: Theres nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it. Unfortunately, given the power of pop culture and pop psychology, I think that many have embraced this absurd and convenient retort, especially those who have trouble with mea culpa.
I was reminded again of this line a few days ago when I came across a book by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas called: The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in All Your Relationship
. You may be familiar with Chapman from his many books on the five love languages where he asserts that we generally like to receive love in one of five ways: acts of service, receiving gifts, words of affirmation, quality time or physical touch. The problem is that we usually give love in the manner that we like to receive it and this may not be the right love language for one that we are seeking to love. In short, its the receiver, not the giver, who determines if an act is loving.
In any case, Chapman and Thomas have developed a similar model for the language of apology. They argue, rather convincingly, that an apology, just like giving love, is not really effective unless its expressed in terms appropriate for the receiver. Below are the languages of apology that they have discovered:
- Expressing regret: Im sorry may be the first words expressed in this apology language but you will need to clearly express what you are sorry for. For example, if you inappropriately spoke harshly to one of your kids and this is their language, you will need to be specific and say, I am sorry that I lost my temper and raised my voice at you.
- Accepting responsibility: This apology begins with the words I was wrong and then explains what was wrong with your behavior. For example, you would say to your spouse that you were wrong for not planning well enough to get home in time to pick up your children from school.
- Making restitution: This apology language is focused on making it right. So, if you forget someones birthday, and this is his or her language, you cant just say that youre sorry. With a person who speaks this language, what they really want to know is Do you still love me? and making restitution helps assure them that you do.
- Genuinely expressing a desire to change your behavior: This apology needs to be linked to a plan to keep the behavior from occurring again. If this is a loved ones apology language, in their world, apologizing without a sincere desire and demonstrated behavior to change is not apologizing at all.
- Requesting forgiveness: For someone who speaks this language, the words Will you please forgive me? are critical. In their mind, if you are sincere, you will ask to be forgiven.
I really believe that Chapman and Thomas are on to something here. A love story without apologies only happens in the movies. Indeed, love means always
having to say you are sorry. Ironically, the title of the Love Story
theme song, which won an Academy Award for best musical score, is Where Do I Begin? If you want to restore and/or maintain relationships with your spouse, the mother of your child, or your children, I suggest that you begin with an apology.
Last week, I had an opportunity to speak at a briefing hosted by Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL). The purpose of the briefing was to present these findings
of the Commission on Paternal Involvement in Pregnancy Outcomes, a project of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. A key aspect of the commission is to determine ways to reduce infant mortality, which is surprisingly high in the US.
As a member of the commission, I had an opportunity to share a pretty personal perspective on how, as a very new dad, I first learned just how important fathers are to the health and well-being of infants. A reporter wrote this story
about my remarks. Are you ready for some football?
It was good to see that an NFL team was smart enough to draft Myron Rolle. Despite being the top high school recruit in his class year and an All-American at Florida State, many pro teams were lukewarm and questioned his commitment to football because Rolle choose to forgo playing his senior year to accept the Rhodes Scholarship, thus keeping the scholar in scholar-athlete. (Check out the video here
to see just how impressive this young man is.)
With the considerable money at stake, I certainly understand concerns that Rolles skills may be a tad rusty after taking a year off but some of comments by NFL prognosticators were just nonsensical. For example, former Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick said Rolle's intellect could be a hindrance on the field: "If you want to create hesitation on a guy, make him think. This guy can't help but think." Huh???
I played football in college at Princeton and I raised a son who was a scholarship football player at the University of North Carolina. One thing that I remember vividly is that whenever I made a bone head mistake, my coach would admonish me to get my head out of myshall we sayhindquarters and get it in the game. Thats coachspeak for think. So, it makes me wonder if there is not something else going on here. Could it be that some dont want other college players to follow Rolles lead and take full advantage of their scholarships by making their studies a priority? That would certainly make life more difficult for college coaches because practice times usually conflict with biology lab times. Well, I hope this is not the case, especially given the dismal graduation rates in many top college football programs and the need for more African American men--football players or not-to earn college degrees.
Interestingly, its not hard to see why Rolle has taken the path that he has. On hearing Billicks comments, Rolles father, Whitney, said, "These people, they feel as though you can show commitment in only so many ways. We have taught all our kids if you're going to do something, do it 100%, so to hear these people say that they question his commitment to football, it's a disgrace.
I couldnt agree more
Fortunately, Rolle has gotten some good coaching at home over the years.
So Men Health's recently published a list of what they consider the top ten worst fathers. The line of reasoning was, "Well, even if you aren't perfect - at least you aren't this
bad." The list includes everyone from Michael Lohan
to David Hasselhoff
to Eliot Spitzer
to Woody Allen. It also includes some less well-known folks who beat up their kids' Little League coaches or produce 78 kids (to date).
This is interesting on multiple levels. First, it's good to know there is still some sort of standard for what it means to be a good father. Granted, after this list, the bar isn't too high but if you did the opposite of everything on this list (ie
: care about your kids more than yourself and don't physically or emotionally harm them), you're headed in the right direction.
Secondly, I think Men's Health might have forgotten another entry on the list: the intentionally absent father. Obviously there are situations where a father cannot, for various reasons, play an active role in his children's lives. But in the majority of cases, as difficult as the father's presence might be, a father's absence certainly doesn't make for a painless childhood either. It's simply a different category of pain.
Perhaps we and Men's Health can agree on one point - fathers do need encouragement. Not perhaps from the legacy of outrageously ridiculously bad fathers, but from working on their fathering skills and knowing that their presence is an irreplaceable wonderful benefit to their children!
As the recent news of the earthquake continues to come in, the Haiti situation
looks grim. When serious events such as this happen, kids (especially younger ones) naturally turn to their parents for explanations and reassurance. Here a few pointers on helping guide your kids through the emotions resulting from serious natural disasters:
- Ask them if they've heard about these events. If they are in school, they might have also discussed it there. Ask them what they think about the event, and if they have any concerns related to it.
- Assure them that you care for them and are doing everything you can to keep them safe. Answer any questions they have for you; it is important that children have a sense of hope and perspective on natural disasters.
- Work with your kids to develop positive and constructive action steps to respond to the disaster. Children like to do things that make a difference in the world. Be creative. Encourage your children to write letters or donate "piggy bank" money to relief efforts. Pray with your children for the people who were affected. Help them focus on helping others in their time of need.
Do you have additional thoughts? How do you help your kids with difficult situations in the news?
Maxim magazine (yes, that Maxim) published a list of "10 Things Every Father Should Teach His Son." Here is their list:
1. Never Fight Over a Woman
2. Never Let Anyone See You Punch Inanimate Objects
3. Buy the Women in Your Life Flowers
4. Know How to Make Scrambled Eggs
5. Always Buy a Laid-off Friend a Beer
6. Never Get Mad ... Get Even
7. Silence Is Golden
8. Drink Liquor Straight Up
9. Own a Roll of Duct Tape
10. Never Be Afraid to Dance
Now, some of these are pretty
good (2, 3, 7), some of them are not so good (6, 8), and some of them are downright silly (1, 4, 5, 9, 10). Given the questionable content on their website, I will not link over to the list, where they provide brief explanations for each item.
All in all, I would classify this list as "how to be a man in the way 21st century manhood has been defined." You can take it for what it is worth from that perspective.
But we at NFI, of course, think there are a few important things that Maxim
left off the list when it comes to the real, actual things that sons need to learn from their fathers.
A few suggestions, from the mundane to the profound:
- Work hard, even when no one is watching.
- Know how to fix a flat tire.
- Don't have children until you are married to their mother.
- Honesty actually is the best policy.
- Know how to cook.
- Have a good strong handshake.
- Always look people in the eye when you talk to them.
- Serve your community.
- Be willing and able to do house chores, like vacuuming, ironing, dusting, and washing dishes.
- Treat all of the women in your life with respect.
- Don't be afraid to experience and process the full range of emotions.
- Always keep an updated resume.
Do you have any more suggestions? What lessons will you share with your sons?