…Even in front of their kids.
I recently had to take a trip to Ireland for business. Now, I am a guy that hates leaving his family on a daily basis. I miss them. I worry about them. I often find myself wishing I didn’t have to work, but feeling grateful that I can provide and that my clients believe enough in me to do the important work. Any Dad that loves their family the way I do, understands the balancing act and all the thoughts that go with it.
When I have to leave for 1 or 2 nights for a domestic business trip it pains me. But, leaving for an international trip is gut wrenching. I cry, my wife cries, and my boys beg me to stay home and say “no planes Daddy.” I balled like a baby walking out of my house on my way to Ireland…and half way to the airport.
When some asked how my trip was I shared parts of how difficult I find it and my experience above. Several people told me that I shouldn’t cry in front of my boys. That is makes it more difficult for them. I just listened. These comments did not sit well with me.
Should my boys grow up to believe that their Dad doesn’t cry? That I am superman and strong? I don’t think so. I lived many years of my life inside of myself. Scared to be vulnerable and to let the world see my sensitivity. Having children has surely raised the level of my sensitivity. My boys will know this about me even if it means “goodbyes” are extra difficult…on them and me.
I would rather have them grow up to be men that look back and remember their father’s tears as signs of my true commitment, care and love for them. Not look back and simply remember their stoic father leaving to go out and kill dinner to feed the family.
After I got back from Ireland I was on the phone with someone interviewing me for an article to be written about me. She asked the question, “Your mantra is STAY TRUE, in raising your two sons, what will you do or say to make them understand and believe in your mantra?”
My response was something like this…
“I will never claim to understand something that I don’t…and I rarely will because I am not them. I will allow them to express anger and sadness. I will allow them to explore parts of themselves outwardly that the world may not think appropriate. So, I guess it’s not so much what I will say or do. Of course I want to be an example to them, but not in the cliche way I think questions like this are usually answered. I will give them the allowance to be human by being human myself. I will do so by acknowledging my fears, crying and encouraging their tears, being affectionate, and providing them with a safe place to explore the true depths of who they are…in Dad’s presence. I will pray that they become brave enough show the world whoever they truly become and feel how liberating and powerful that can be. Finally, I will always be their biggest fan and celebrate every win along the way.”
I understand what the people’s intent was in telling me not to cry in front of my kids. But, I don’t agree. As a matter of fact, this message goes far beyond my showing of emotion in front of my boys. It hits all of us in varying ways. What stereotypical messages are holding you back?
Finally, when is the last time you claimed to understand how someone was feeling when you really did not. I get that you were simply trying to relate to them, but in an odd way you did just the opposite. You stifled their authentic feeling.
I sit with far too many men, and yes women, that are stifled and not living authentically. Free your self and those around you. For those of you thinking (and people have said this to me before) that I am saying to spend your days crying, etc…you are taking this to the extreme. Slow down and ponder the depth of what I am getting at.
In the meantime…my boys will intimately get to know my smile, laughter, powerful hug and touch, but they will never be denied my tears. Jaxon and Maxwell are safe with me. I hope they come to understand that and one day present the world with their true and powerful selves.