I can’t believe that I had never thought about covering this topic before, but here we are. This week, I want to discuss the importance of looking to those more experienced and wiser than ourselves to help us navigate parenthood. For some of us, this might feel like a “duh” moment. However, for others, the thought of seeking help from another father could possibly be a foreign concept. Many of us have been taught to figure things out on our own. Maybe you have been told that seeking counsel from others is a sign of weak leadership or a form insecurity. If so, I would like to make a case for why looking to others for guidance might very well be a strength and one of our greatest tools.
As a counselor, I have often had clients tell me that they felt shame for needing to come to someone with their “issues.” Others, noted that they did not believe that they needed help, and that they would rather figure things out on their own. My response for both situations was the same. I would go back to the idea of us being kings of our kingdom. When a king had an important decision to make, he would call upon his trusted advisors to help him explore any perspectives or opportunities that he might have overlooked. He realized that even the best of kings have blind spots. He also knew that he had to make the final decision for himself. He was in charge of taking the information that he gathered and run his kingdom with it. In our case, not much has changed. We, as fathers, have many important decisions to make. We would do well to seek counsel from advisors in our life to help us care for our family well.
Many of us get caught up in the belief that we are displaying weakness when we ask for help. On the contrary, there is weakness in letting our pride keep us from making informed decisions. When we don’t take advantage of the wisdom that is given to us, it is like choosing to build a shed without the use of any of our tools. We’re just going to make a big mess of things! When others have been in similar situations to what we face, then by heeding they’re words, we can save valuable time, resources, and energy- and avoid any unnecessary hassle. We owe it to ourselves and our family to set aside our stubbornness to get the job done right.
We also must realize that the individualistic mindset that we have as fathers is very cultural. I imagine that you have heard the phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child.” There are many other cultures that take this phrase quite literally. Instead of mom and dad raising the children on their own, they have the support of extended family, friends, and the neighborhood in which they live in. I have engaged in conversation with many people that come from a different culture than my own, and they are confused as to why we would think that it is a wise idea to handle all aspects of child-rearing on our own. To them, the idea of not looking to our fathers and grandfathers (and mature friends) is absolutely irresponsible. Not only is it considered irresponsible, but it would also be dishonoring to ignore the counsel of our elders.
As I said before, it is still a father’s responsibility to lead the family. We have the final say. Yet, as Uncle Ben put it, “with great power, comes great responsibility.” We are responsible with our power, as leader of the home, to take the words and concerns of others into account. My challenge for you this week is to think of at least one person that is further along the parenting journey and is someone who’s judgment you trust. Once you have selected a person, then I want you to ask him any questions that you might have regarding fatherhood. As a treat to the rest of us, please write in the comments any wise words that were shared with you.