The role of men in the lives of their children cannot be duplicated.
Recently, I was reminded just how important the influence of a good man is in the lives of children. If a man is a good role model, he has the power to transform the lives around him for the better. A man who loves his wife can prove an example for his sons to follow in their own marriage, and he can aid his daughter so that she will know what to look for when choosing her mate.
A good man has influence beyond his home. He has the power to impact his community. He might be on the school board, volunteer to coach youth sports, or volunteer with a charity — whatever path he chooses, those who are in his care are sure to regard him with respect. That respect often earns him the right to speak into the lives of those in his care and his voice has power.
How do I know? Throughout my 15 years as a children’s and youth leader, I saw many examples of good men, who were able to steer young men and women away from negative social behaviors that could have had devastating consequences. They often spoke truths in a fatherly way — which many kids craved due to a lack of a father in their own home. During those years, I learned the power of a man’s voice speaking into the lives of children. Not just boys, but girls too.
More recently, I have witnessed my son’s coaches have a positive influence on them. I have seen them grow and mature as a result of the men pushing them beyond the limits I would have required. These men give of their time and talent to help other young men grow and mature into solid citizens.
I have also seen a community mourn the loss of a great man who helped drug addicts, alcoholics, and porn addicts kick their habits. The man I am speaking of stepped into the role of father for many whose fathers had abandoned or abused them. He was a father to the fatherless, as often as those who needed a father would allow him to fill that role.
As I sat at his funeral, I reflected on all the men I have known who have made an effort to raise their children right and who have reached out to the community to make a difference in the lives of children. I began to think how rare it is for anyone to acknowledge the importance of their efforts.
These men are helping boys become men who will give back to their community because they are witnessing a living example. These men are giving boys the ability to develop their talents, while channeling their energy into something positive. They are doing much more than keeping boys out of trouble and off the streets — they are mentoring them to become good men who know how to win and lose with dignity. They are teaching them how to partner with others and to be loyal, invaluable traits that all men should have.
I cannot count all the times when I have heard single mothers express gratitude for a coach or a youth leader who took the the time to mentor their sons.
The kind of man I am talking about are those who young women can trust without fear of harm. They treat women with respect and as equals. Young women look up to them as examples of what a real man should be. They feel valued in their presence and they know their thoughts and opinions are respected. These men provide young women with support when needed, and they do so without insult.
Without good men who step up and choose to love not just their own children, but also the children of others, our society would quickly crumble.
So, this Father’s Day I want to say “thank you,” to all the men out there who are stepping out into their comfort zone to have a positive influence on their own children and the children in our community. You are not wasting your time. The work you are doing is valuable and much needed. You have something to offer that we women do not. We need you. Keep up the good work.