Wednesday, June 8th, 2011
I had a sneaking suspicion that a realization was setting in: that at least in my mind, I can’t be a good father without being just as good of a husband as well. The more I processed it, the more I believed it: The role of father and husband are completely intertwined and inseparable. However, I didn’t just want to take my own word for it. It’s times like these when I ask the world of Facebook and Twitter.
Something I have learned/taught myself from blogging since August 2005 is the importance of being my own devil’s advocate; addressing any potential arguments by simply answering them before a reader ever has the opportunity to bring them up. Therefore, I knew not to ask the question: “Can a man be a good father without being a good husband?”. Because I personally know men who are wonderful fathers despite being divorced, separated or widowed.
So I cleverly asked my social networking friends, “Can a married man be a good father without being a good husband?”. I received convincing answers from both sides, but ultimately I realized the way I asked the question wasn’t clever enough. Because some of the people who answered “yes” made the point that many moms and dads are stuck in unhappy marriages, mainly staying together for the kids. And while that is sad to hear, I know it’s true.
In the journey of confirming my perception of the intertwining roles of a father and husband, I learned a better question to ask: “Can a happily married man be a good father without being a good husband?” My own personal answer to that question is “no.” And if a man could actually be happily married while being a good father and a sub-par husband, most likely he would be taking advantage of his wife somehow, like by not doing his fare share of the household duties. The man would be living in an ignorant bliss while his wife would be living in a world of “unappreciation.” So while the man would be happily married, the woman would not.
After all my failed attempts at trying to ask a particular question, the best version is actually, “Can a happily married man in a mutually happy marriage be a good father without being a good husband?”.
Of course I get it that a man can be a better father than he is a husband, but I believe a good father would also be highly concerned with improving his husbandly skills. I just can’t separate a good father from a good husband, in my mind, at least.
Most importantly I realized that the question isn’t one that can be answered by anyone else anyway. It can only be answered by me, a happily married man who is part of a marriage in which neither party will settle for mediocre. My wife and I decided from the very beginning that we would end up being one of those old couples who still held hands; who still deliberately go on dates no matter what distractions in life come along.
Last weekend my wife and I were at Earth Fare, an organic grocery store, having a coffee date. The woman making our coffees randomly asked us how long we had been married. Up until that point, she didn’t know anything about us other than what she had observed by watching us wait for our coffee and learning our appreciation for the delicious cookie samples we partook of at the counter. “This July will be three years,” we answered.
“You act just like newlyweds!” she replied.
For me, a man who is obsessed with being a good father and a good husband in a mutually happy marriage, that’s one of the best compliments I can receive.
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Thursday, March 10th, 2011
While it is a bummer that the classic American father has become a bit of myth these days in popular culture, I can serve as a representative in “dad from day one” as one myself.
I would like to begin with the discernment of a female comedian named Sarah Haskins; I highly recommend watching this humorous 3 minute video clip regarding the following quote of hers:
“Single men in commercials look good, drive fast, and drink beer. Then they meet women, get married, and become good-for-nothing doofy husbands. And what happens if the husband tried to plant his feet and not get bullied in real life? Divorced, money split, wife takes the kids, forever in debt.”
It’s strange how I never gave it too much thought before: How so many commercials and sitcoms really do revolve around a funny yet overweight and slightly incompetent man who happened to score a thin and hot wife who overlooks his bumbling and pathetic behavior. From Kevin James to to Homer Simpson. (Of course, I fully realize the annoying irony of the fact that it is mainly men who are writing those commercials and sitcoms.)
Yes, they makes us laugh. But in some subconscious ways, these stereotypes of men also take power (and more obviously, respect) away from men, in general. Does anyone really care whether or not men are portrayed positively in sitcoms and commercials? Or are we just content to just ignore the occasional facebook status hype that “all men are jerks”, or best, the subliminal message that men are jokes?
As a man with solid moral principles and a backbone, I know the truth: Good men still exist. We’re embarrassed by the worst examples of men; the ones who make the most noise and the most messes. The truth is, being a good man is everything to me. I live for being a good husband and a good father. It’s crucial that I earn respect from those who know me.
Fortunately, my obsession of being respected as a father and husband isn’t simply my own personal quirk. I was so relieved and encouraged when I read the book For Women Only. Here’s an insightful quote from female author Shaunti Feldhahn, explaining a major difference in the wiring of men and women:
“Notice that one of the main biblical passages on marriage- in Ephesians 5- never tells the wife to love her husband, and it never tells the husband to respect his wife (presumably because we each already tend to give what we want to receive). Instead, over and over, it urges the husband to love his wife and urges the wife to respect her husband and his leadership. Women often tend to want to control things, which, unfortunately, men tend to interpret as disrespect and distrust (which, if we’re honest with ourselves, it sometimes is).”
Shortly after getting married, I read both that book and its counterpart, For Men Only. Thank God for those books! Marriage makes so much more sense after learning the unspoken things that men and women assume the other already knows on a daily basis. But if I had to pin it down to one major thing I learned from reading them, it was that men want to be respected by their wives and that women want to feel loved by their husbands. And more importantly, these books clearly explain to a man how to successfully express his love to his wife and they explain to a woman how to successfully express respect to her husband.
By going against so many of the negative stereotypes about men, I can truly show my wife and son that I love them. I can’t express the value of the reward of feeling like a respected husband and father. So I think if a man proves himself to be respected by people, then people should respect him enough to tell him they noticed his “goodness”, in some way. There’s not a whole lot of that happening these days.
So I do. I take the time to tell good men that they are good. Even coming from me, another guy, I know it means something. Because subconsciously, though we men would never admit it, we appreciate being noticed for being the good men of this world.
I embark on a mission each new day to be the best good man I can be. And I know that the little things are the big things: Helping take care of my 3 month old son in every way I can, not leaving all or most of it on my wife, is a daily staple for me in my effort to be a good man. I don’t want my wife to be able to joke with her friends about my shortcomings or shortcuts as a dad and husband. Instead, I live to give her every reason not to ever be tempted to do that, even for an innocent laugh. And despite my constant strive and desire to be funny, when it comes to being a good father and husband, I want to be taken seriously. It’s not a joking matter.
Admittedly, my skills regarding home repairs and car maintenance are lacking- big time. But I know that being able to fix a car or a garbage disposal doesn’t ultimately prove my manhood. Being an active, supportive, responsible father and husband does. Man was created in God’s image. Not Charlie Sheen’s. Not Archie Bunker’s. Not Peter Griffin’s.
Recruiting the help of my facebook friends, I tried to come up with an example of a popular American father on TV, who is recent (in new episodes since 2004) and not a widow, a martyr, a robot, or an alien. Turns out, there was no real, obvious winner. So instead of naming who the modern day Ward Cleaver is in the title of this entry, all I could do was just generically say “the modern day Ward Cleaver”. And while it is sad that the classic American father has become a bit of myth in popular culture, I can do my part outside of my home life:
By writing “dad from day one”. I can continue making a positive presence in the gorilla marketed world of “baby blogging”. So it may not be as big as TV, but I still count this blog as contributing to the entertainment industry. Not that I am THE classic American father, but that I am simply a clearly communicating representative of us all. It may be nearly impossible to think of a respectable TV dad these days, but I know so many in real life- and that’s what actually matters.
If the respectable American father won’t show up on TV, he can more importantly show up in the real world.
Just to show you an example of the way it has become normal to stop taking men seriously, check out my challenge below.
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Give me an example of a popular and current father/husband on TV who is respected and loved by his family and is NOT known for constantly making comical messes- especially when it comes to goofing up home repairs or misbehaving in social outings. *Bonus points if the guy is not shlubby and overweight yet married to a thin wife who is smart-witted, as to humorously contrast the father/husband’s character.
Examples of who I AM NOT looking for:
Fred Flintstone, Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin of “Family Guy”, Kevin James of “King of Queens”, and Jim Belushi of “According to Jim”.
Remember, I’m looking for a current example, so Ward Cleaver from “Leave It to Beaver” or Mike Brady of “The Brady Bunch” would be disqualified. I will define “current” as “since 2004″, which is the year Friends went off the air and Lost began.
Also, he has to be a popular character on a decently cool and relevant show. No ABC Family or Hallmark stuff.
He must be intelligent as well as faithful to his family, but he can’t be nerdy either. So Ned Flanders from “The Simpsons” won’t work. Also, he can’t be a widow who is overcoming his wife’s death. He has to be currently married to his wife on the show, giving an ongoing example of what a good husband and father is.
And… he can’t be killed off the show or marginalized in any way. He has to be a solid, consistent character.
He is not perfect; he does make mistakes. Therefore he is a real man and human being; he is not an alien or a robot.
The winning example will be published in the upcoming “dad from day one” post (possibly as part of the title itself) for thousands to see.
Answer the question: “Who is the modern Ward Cleaver?”
Impress me, friends. Because in all my creativity the only example I can come up with is Adam Braverman on the series Parenthood.
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Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010
Being that this is the week that our baby can begin deciphering our voices, my wife half-jokingly told me to talk to her stomach. But as I guy, what do I say to baby who doesn’t understand what I am saying, who just hears a blurry bass tone?
I became Daddy DJ:
“Helloooooo baby… I am yo Daddy. I will be taking care of you, along with your mother. As for tonight, I’m gonna set the mood right for helping you fall asleep…”
Then I begin singing a Barry White version of the first Hall & Oates song that comes to mind, which is usually “You Make My Dreams” or “Maneater” or “Out of Touch”.
*Note: Thursday marks the first day of the new week for our baby. I’ll probably be posting another one of these pretty soon, but it will be for the next week, not two in the same week.
The Bump Says:
Watch what you say… tiny bones forming in baby’s ears mean the little one can now pick up your voice. Eyebrows, lashes and hair are starting to fill in, and taste buds are forming. And, if you’re interested, an ultrasound might be able to determine gender.
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:
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Friday, April 16th, 2010
Our kid is currently the size of a small strawberry.
This baby is growing everyday inside of my wife. A living being. Or as I think of it, a living bean. We already love this little 10 week old baby though it decides to spend all its time inside my wife’s womb.
Yesterday officiated Week 10 of the pregnancy. Here’s what all is forming right now: ears, nose, neck, hair follicles, muscles, nerves, and fingerprints. And the baby’s testicles or ovaries. Things are happenin’.
Anytime we do something for the first time since my wife has been pregnant, we acknowledge it is the first time our baby experiences it.
Like a few weeks ago (at that point the fetus was the size of a kidney bean) when we went on a four mile hike: That was our baby’s first hike and boy were her/his little legs tired.
Followed by baby’s first quesadilla at Ruby Tuesday’s. And baby’s first episode of The Office.
It’s gotta be a cute little thing inside there. I told my wife that I wish we could take it out and play with it. And set up a little carriage for it the size of a cotton ball. And it could sleep next to us.
But if it got cold, we could put it back in the womb for a while.
Though I bet once the baby bean experienced life outside the womb, it would rather just stay outside with us.
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:
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