This article is about the following video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PI4Mv8R0mE0). If you have not seen it, please take a few minutes to watch.
From the outset, let me explain that I grew up in a traditional American household with both of my parents. My father was very involved in my life. I will also confess that I did not watch “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” very often. However, a friend recently sent this video and encouraged me to watch it.
It struck me. Hard…and I didn’t see it coming. The emotion displayed in the closing seconds of that video was moving.
I told my wife when I got home, “I feel like I got hit by a truck. That video really bothered me.”
My wife responded, “I’m surprised. Usually those things don’t affect you very much – you tend to shrug-off television shows since they are not real.”
What bothered me even more was the email I received from another close friend who watched the video. He said, “That was my life – over and over again my father walked out on me and broke his promises.”
I felt like someone had just punched me in my stomach. Fathers, do you not know what you are doing to your sons?
In my job I interact with 18-30 year-old men on a regular basis. I am still surprised at the number of men who explain that they grew up without a father. No wonder boys don’t want to grow up – they don’t know how! The BBC reported in 2013 that child psychologists in the UK are being encouraged to include a “late stage of adolescence” that runs through the age of 25. In other words, “Children, you don’t have to grow up until you are at least 25.” What?!
Let me share a story to make this point: when my oldest son was about eight years old and his younger brother was six. Their room was a wreck because they had spread their toys all over the place without picking up – very normal behavior for young boys. However, my wife and I specifically told the boys to clean up their toys before they went to bed. As we were tucking them into bed for the night, we had a quick talk about responsibility. I explained to them that if they were going to keep their toys, then they needed to be responsible for taking care of their toys. My oldest gave a fascinating response, “Dad, I am only 8. I don’t want that much responsibility.”
I responded, “Okay bud. That’s fair. Just understand that as you walk into manhood, you need to learn how to handle more responsibility.” Boys don’t take responsibility. Men do. Boys are passive. Men are not. Boys are selfish. Men are self-less. Where did I learn these things? From my dad.
Men, keep your word and teach your sons to take responsibility. The way you raise your son(s) will have a massive impact on the next generation. If you are a responsible man, you keep your word, and raise your son to do the same, you will have a positive impact. However, if you are irresponsible and don’t keep your word, and your son follows in your footsteps, then you will have a very negative impact.
Two final points to mention: first, let me say that just because you are a man of integrity, does not mean that your son will be a man of integrity. You must do your best (pray hard!) and leave the results up to God.
Second, I recognize that some of the readers of this article are single and do not have children. However, the Great Commission calls each person to “make disciples.” Assuming that you are making disciples, the principle remains the same: keep your word and teach younger men to take responsibility.