‘New Warrior’ men make good fathers
by Steve Norcross
Once again, the third Sunday in June is Father’s Day. Greeting card publishers, clothing manufacturers, distilleries, and long-distance phone operators are hoping to realize a profit from the once-a-year obligation many feel to honor their dads. I hope my own kids, at least, call and wish me well, tell me that they love me.
I’m put in mind, this time of year, to recall and honor my fathers and grandfathers. I hope to be so honored by my descendents.
The New Warrior Training Adventure offers – among other opportunities – the chance to face, honestly and courageously, those important people in our past who contributed to our lives, or who prevented us from becoming the men we could be.
For most of us, parents were the most important people in our childhood. Our mother and father both emerge as having a huge influence during the NWTA. Many men going through the weekend choose to confront their mom and/or their dad.
Flawed as our parents were, the new warrior men (graduates of the NWTA) who choose to move on in life will deal cleanly with their memories of how they were raised.
The lessons we learn during the New Warrior Training Adventure soon begin to become integrated in our daily lives – where we work, where we play, and where we live.
I came home from my weekend (Camp Melacoma, Washington, February 1998) resolved to not repeat the same kinds of mistakes that I judge my father had made. I intended to be a better father to my grown children. In some ways, I am succeeding.
Below are the some of the lessons from my weekend that now support my resolve to become a better father.
All of me is welcome here
Looking back to my family of origin, I realize that only some of me was welcome. “Nice” was an enormously operative word in that time and place.
In contrast, when we check in at a gathering of our men’s integration group (i-group), we admit clearly, cleanly, and honestly what we are feeling. There is no censorship or shame about sharing honest feeling.
Clean emotional expression was not permitted in my home, possibly due to verbal violence in my parents’ past. The new warrior dad will welcome his children’s honest expression of emotion. He will demonstrate by his own example, by his acceptance of their emotions, that whatever they feel is welcome.
Looking back, I realize that I really didn’t know my dad. He rarely shared with me (or anyone else) his innermost feelings and thoughts.
The warrior dad begins to speak for himself, and only for himself. This lets the kids know where their dad stands and who he is. It can make a child’s day to hear his dad say, “I’m really happy with the way you did that.”
Be the man in my kid’s life
We suffer in the U.S. from a national tragedy of absent fathers. Even when dad might live at home, he’s often not around the house very often. When he is home, he’s not really emotionally present.
New warrior dads are given the chance to claim back their balls, especially if they lost them to their moms or their mom’s replacement, be she a wife or a female partner.
I clearly remember my dad warning me not to upset my mom, because once she grew unhappy, she would make life miserable for him and everyone else in the house. I judge that my dad had resigned his job as a parent, in deference to her, which has caused immense trouble for me as an adult male.
New warrior men can turn this around for themselves. We do not expect our partners (female or male) to do all the parenting for us. We show our boys (and girls) what it means to be a strong man in the family.
Provide leadership in my world
Children, especially boys, are looking for strong male role models. They want men they can respect, who will respond to them openly and honestly. They want men who will set boundaries for safety yet also support their courage to break the rules if it does not endanger them.
During the course of the NWTA weekend, new brothers will be challenged to be all these things, and more. If you take the training, for instance, the changes in you will make a real difference in your kids’ lives. They are looking for you to be a leader in their lives and your own, to show them how to be a leader.
Through mentoring your children through the years, how would it feel if the difference you make in your children’s lives leads them to become strong leaders?
Show up and be here now
A man’s life is pulled in many directions. Any job, especially in recessionary economies, challenges us to work more and more, harder and harder – just to hang on to the job. Outside of employment, the activities we have chosen can enrich us but can also ask a lot from us (men’s work being a sharp example!).
Coming home from staffing an NWTA weekend, for example, I may be tempted to retreat into a book or a drink or collapse in bed, a video or the computer for escape. First, though, my focus is on my partner, and then my focus is on the kids. When it’s time for my family at home, they deserve all of me, not half of me because I’m still working in my mind or still caught up in the world.
New warriors know how to focus, to be here now, to devote 100 percent attention to the present moment. Our brothers will call us on our inattention if our minds appears to be somewhere else. Our children may not be so up front with us, yet they still deserve full attention, our full presence.
For these and for other reasons, new warrior men make better fathers. One man, and one family at a time, we are making a gigantic difference for ourselves, for our sons and daughters, and for our world.
Experiencing Father’s Day in June with a phone call, a new necktie and a greeting card may be all that some men ever get. For the New Warrior dad, every day can be a father’s day. By being a real man, an authentic gift to your children, in due time, the blessings of your love will return to you a million times over.
|Steve Norcross is a leader in the MKP Northwest and Portland Councils. An Episcopal priest, he is the director of pastoral services at William Temple House and the Priest-in-Charge at Ascension Parish. He is married with two grown children and a granddaughter on the way. snorx.wordpress.com/|