Over five years ago I was standing next to my wife in an ultrasound room, awaiting the news if our first child would be a boy or girl. I really didn’t care what gender the baby was going to be as long as it was healthy. But if I had choice, it was going to be a boy. As soon as the doctor moved the ultrasound machine for the big reveal I looked at the screen and saw we were having a boy. I was ecstatic. It’s every father’s dream to have a son, and according to my wife, my smile was ear to ear. She says the look on my face was priceless.
During the course of our life we experience flashbulb moments, events that are forever ingrained into our minds. For fathers, two of these events are they day you find out you’re having a son, and the day he is born. I am extremely fortunate to experience both of these events twice. They are the proudest moments of my life, as I am sure it is for many fathers.
Fast-forward 13 years to a freshmen football game. A father sits in the stands and anxiously watches his son. At one point in the game the son makes a big hit and causes the running back to fumble. The father pumps his fist by his side and says, “That’s my boy.” It’s a proud moment between father and son, but it shouldn’t be the only moment of pride. Too often fathers live vicariously through their sons’ athletic careers, and this puts a tremendous amount of pressure on them. Boys begin to feel as if they’ll only be a source of pride if they perform well athletically. And that’s not right.
“Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice.”
Too often the father’s role in the American family is only seen as provider and disciplinarian. Emphasis has been placed on earning money and achieving success, while male nurturing within the household has decreased and become devalued. Father’s must make sure their son’s grow up with a real presence in their lives, not just after a big game. Young males need to learn from fatherly role models that life isn’t all about how much you can have, but rather it’s all about relationships.
Our society needs more emotionally mature men. This develops from self-awareness, confidence, and inner-security. All of this stems from the father-son relationship. Dads need to let their sons know they are important as a person, not just as an athlete. Young boys need validation early and often. The father must let his son know he loves him and is proud of him for who he is. Every day the son needs to hear this.
Think of the positive impact it would have on young males to know they don’t have to live up to some sense of false male bravado. What if there was no pressure to live up to expectations? What if boys could feel secure in pursuing their true passions and interests? Society would be a much better place and we would less broken homes.
“Small boys become big men through influence of big men who care about small boys.”
How often do you tell your son you’re proud of him? What do you tell him you’re proud of? Does he know you love him for the person he is?
Every day I make it a point to tell my sons that I love them and I am proud of them. I express my pride when they do well in school, share with a friend, or do something nice for someone else; not just if they hit or throw a ball really far. My goal is for my sons to have an secure-esteem through the validation I give them.
Here is a clip of one of my favorite father-son movie scenes from The Pursuit of Happyness.
To all fathers of boys out there:
He’s your boy, not just after the game, not just today, but every day. And who he turns out to be will be your legacy. Embrace it and make the most of the awesome opportunity to be a father.
How do you show pride in your child?
As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!
Coach Elmendorf is available to speak to your team, group, or organization. Message him for details.