A man wrote this comment about his relationship with his wife: ‘I did not reveal myself to her. I stuffed many of my thoughts, emotions, and needs that I feared would lead to rejection if I voiced them’This was cutting her off’I believe this was an abdication of my responsibility. I have known for many, many years that honesty and openness is God’s way but had not really come to terms with it until recently.’
As a man, you likely agree that not every emotion you feel’for example, fear, inhibition, or intimidation’is good. You probably realize honesty and openness is God’s desire but struggle to obey. Haven’t you wondered if Adam ever said ‘I’m sorry’ to Eve. Think about it. There he was in the Garden, listening to Satan tempt his wife, and he did nothing to interfere, to keep her from giving in. And the rest is history.
As one prominent psychologist noted, ‘Adam was there and he was silent.’ I wonder if Adam ever spoke to Eve about his shame. And I wonder if we men have inherited his silence.
You don’t have to give in to the temptation of silence. Share yourself with your wife. Come to terms with the fact that the silence that fills your home is like a fog and obscures you from her. But you can begin to clear the fog. Give her the opportunity to receive what you say with trust and grace. It might be scary. But you can do it.
Men, do you want to bless your sons? Here are four essential ingredients for doing so:
1) The first is identity. Everyone wants to know who they are and whose they are. A boy looks to his father to tell him who his people are and what they believe. Tell family stories and history to your kids.
2) The second ingredient is acceptance. Let them know they belong to you and are a part of the family. It gives them a sense of value and self-worth. The son who gets this from his father knows he’s wanted, he’s valued, and that he has a positive contribution to offer the world.
3) Next comes modeling. Boys become men in the presence of men. Being male comes by birth; being a man comes through being around and doing things with you and other men. A son will learn how to manage feelings, control emotions, and respond to the challenges of life by how his dad and other significant men in his life do.
4) Fourth and finally is release. There needs to be benchmarks, rites of passage, significant events and accomplishments in a son’s life where the father recognizes and affirms that he’s becoming a man.
Dad, these four things drive away the fear of adulthood and the concern sons have of not meeting your expectations.
In his book Men’s Secret Wars, Patrick Means suggests three questions to help men identify whether or not they’ve moved beyond parental expectations. They are as follows:
1) Did my father communicate to me that I was loved?
2) Did he let me know he was pleased with who I am?
3) Was his blessing unconditional?
To me, Means’ last point is the most important. When as a parent you tell your son, ‘I love you if and when you do this or that,’ you’re putting conditions in place that could haunt him for the rest of his life.
The amazing thing about the grace of God is that you’re accepted with no strings attached. Christ took care of all the conditions. By embracing Christ, you’re freed from all your mistakes and shortfalls. But it also means you’re freed from your having to measure up to the false and unrealistic standards of others.
Consequently, you’re free to pursue your God-directed destiny’to follow your God-given dreams’knowing you have a loving Father who encourages you along the way. Every man was created by God to stand straight and tall, to look to God to find His true identity in Christ.