As I near the end of my fourth decade of life, I’m getting more and more weary of stereotypes. I’ve lived enough life to know the “rules” don’t apply to everyone. And by rules, I don’t mean those we find in the Word; our guidebook for living. The rules I’m referring to are the social, relational and societal rules we’ve created to make sense of the crazy world we live in. Perhaps the one that gets me the most is the stereotype that most men are weak, helpless children wrapped up in a strong outer exterior which only comes in handy for bringing home the bacon or completing a honey-do list. We see it in sitcoms and read about it in novels. The husband is clueless and the wife holds the world together. Maybe we’ve chosen this stereotype as a way to overcome centuries of women being oppressed and marginalized. But even preschoolers know – two wrongs don’t make a right. So as we look towards Father’s Day this week, I’d like to ask:
Will all the good fathers please stand up?
And my hope is that every single one will find the strength and support to stand tall and proud of the man they are and the father they are becoming. Because whether a man is two weeks or two decades into his role as a dad, he’s constantly learning and growing (by God’s grace) into a good father; becoming a more obvious reflection of our perfect Father. But I get it. Maybe you (as a wife) feel as though he isn’t stepping up or that he doesn’t understand. Maybe you (as a husband) feel misunderstood and so overwhelmed by the weight on your shoulders. If you find yourself struggling to celebrate fatherhood, take a few minutes to consider these steps to strengthening the man in your life (or yourself, for those dads reading this):
- Ignore the stereotype. Shut.it.down. Forget you ever saw that sitcom that made the husband look like a helpless dork. Scroll past the angry mom blogger’s Facebook post about how dumb her man is. Resist the urge to apply what you see in the media to your own family. Own YOUR story. Read Ephesians 3:14-21 in terms of how much God loves your family (every member) and wants to use your unique story to strengthen you and fill you to overflowing. “. . .from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. . .”
- Celebrate strengths. In his book, Sacred Influence, author Gary Thomas says:
No husband comes in a perfect package. No husband can do it all. Your job as a wife is to fight to stay sensitive to your husband’s strengths. Resist the temptation to compare his weaknesses to another husband’s strengths, while forgetting your husband’s strengths and that other husband’s weaknesses.
Choose to focus on all that is good instead of all that could be better. Affirm strengths before correcting mistakes or sharing disappointment. Gratitude first, growth later.
- Let the kids lead. Kids don’t overthink relationships. As parents, we can feel like utter failures but our children will never fail to crawl up in our lap or snuggle close at the end of a rough day. As moms we can feel completely overwhelmed by all that we did, moment by moment, to take care of the kids but when Daddy walks in the door, the world stops and they go running into his arms. This isn’t because they love him more and it’s always despite his absence throughout the day. Children don’t keep score of who does what. They either feel loved and safe or they don’t. At the end of the day, love and presence is what matters, not who cleaned up the dishes or changed the most diapers.
The greatest gift you can give the father in your life (or yourself for that matter) is to let go of the lie that he doesn’t measure up or isn’t enough. There’s so much talk these days about moms being ENOUGH. It’s time we called the men in our lives to stand tall because they are good, they are strong…they are more than enough.
What is one stereotypical lie about men you want to overcome this Father’s Day? If you are looking for a sweet book to give your man this Father’s Day, check out these adorable titles daddy can read with his loved ones: