I want to give kudos to those men who are doing their best to raise their children and provide stability in their homes as we celebrate Father’s Day in a few weeks.
If we look at how men are portrayed on television and in the movies, we could get a warped sense of what it is to be a man and, most importantly, a father in an American society that has severely watered down its morality and standards.
My late father had a few simple rules he followed and modeled for my brother and me.
The first was work hard and work smart. The emphasis was on work. There are few reasons why able-bodied men should not be employed somewhere somehow.
A second rule was to be responsible. If you said you were going to do something, do it. If you had a task to perform, get it done, no matter how long it took.
A third rule was to be accountable. If you make a mistake, own up to it. If you offend or hurt someone, say you’re sorry – and mean it.
If you marry and have children, provide for them, love them, and sacrifice for them. In other words, be committed, and make sure you honor your commitment.
I have finished reading a book by the Rev. Tony Evans, longtime pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Texas and a renowned author and speaker, called “Kingdom Man.”
Although the book is written from a biblical perspective, the Rev. Mr. Evans, who has his doctorate in theology from the Dallas Theological Seminary, points out some important areas all men should be aware of and work toward improving.
A section of the book is called “Which Hood Are You In?” Mr. Evans writes that men should align themselves with God to have a positive impact in their homes, churches and communities.
He writes that a man falls into three categories, or boxes. He calls them “hoods.”
The first is male-hood. “Male-hood simply has to do with sexual identity. All men begin in the first category,” he writes. Sadly, he continues, “some men stay defined by nothing more than their sexual identity their entire lives.”
A second category all men pass through, and many remain in, is boyhood, he writes. “Boyhood is based on immaturity coupled with dependency. One thing that is true of any boy is that he is immature. Boys do not make wise decisions on their own, which is fine – if you are 7. The difficulty today, though, is that we have many men who are no longer 7 but who are still looking for somebody else to take care of them.”
Men in this “hood” are looking for someone to clean up their physical, emotional, financial or relational messes “they leave in their wake as they rush through life making unwise or self-absorbed decisions,” Mr. Evans writes. He closes out that category with this thought-provoking statement: “Any wife who has to take care of her man is actually taking care of a boy because that is a characteristic of boyhood.”
The third category is called manhood. In this category, responsibility is critical. “While you can’t control the circumstances in your life or those you come into contact with, you always [emphasis added] have control over how you respond and what you want to try to achieve in a situation,” Mr. Evans writes. You cannot enter manhood without understanding, embracing and living out that principle of responsibility, which for all men, who call themselves Christians, begins with living out the truths contained in the Scriptures, he adds.
But even if you aren’t a Christian, most men still find themselves in one of those hoods, and the main component linked to manhood is responsibility.
Many men have had mentors or someone they looked up to that helped them navigate through this adventure called life.
There are, however, a generation of young boys and teens, especially in the black community, who don’t know who their father is, have never had a positive male role model or mentor in their lives, and have learned about life and how to become “a man” through TV, video games and the hard lessons of the streets.
That is why it is so important for those fathers who are working, loving, sacrificing, being responsible and accountable to keep exhibiting those attributes every day.
Yes, we will honor fathers June 19, but fatherhood is a lifelong experience. To those fathers who are doing what they are supposed to do, well done.
For those who aren’t, I ask the question: Which hood are you in?
Ernie Brown Jr., a regional editor at The Vindicator, writes a monthly minority-affairs column. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org