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Be a man: Fathering boys

I remember well the abrupt awakening at 4:00 A.M, the lights flip on and I hear my dad’s voice, “Let’s go”. We made our way out the door into sub-freezing temps, marched into the woods, and there he left me under a tree.

Will Vining
Will Vining and his youngest son |

Shivering in the dark in the Ozarks of Northern Oklahoma, I sat alone with a rifle in hand and the hunt before me. For a twelve-year-old who struggled with OCD and the fear of the woods (which is why I preferred to hunt field side if given the choice), I sat alone in my thoughts. What I didn’t realize at the time was in moments like this, my father was awakening the man in me.

It’s not the activity of hunting that instilled these masculine values, it was my father. When a man (particularly a father) invests in a boy it molds his spirit. It’s the time taken out of the father’s day to pour himself into his offspring, the boy begins to fade and the man is born.

A father is vital to a boy’s development, but not essential. Vital in the sense that he is crucial to the development of a boy’s overall health. Non-essential in the manner that if a father is not present the boy can still develop and grow, but at a severe disadvantage. Studies show that as soon as a child’s infancy, a father-figure produces health benefits for the baby. Numerous studies have been conducted that provide resounding evidence finding the fatherless are at a huge disadvantage.

We need dads. We need masculinity. Parenting needs a mom, the feminine, and a dad, the masculine, to shape a child.

(Trigger Warning) Boys need to hear, “Shake it off, stop crying, and, get back out there.” Truth be told men and women are different as much as culture fights against this fact.

A war has been waged on Godly principles. We must think of God’s creation as a picture; evil want’s nothing more than to throw red paint across the canvass. If the Evil One can successfully distort the family unit, it covers up God’s design. It breaks down every element of the healthy development of a child and cripples them in their youth. Children are more fragile and innocent and easier to influence, wherein a broken boy becomes a broken man.

Herein lies my point: the destruction of traditional values has wreaked havoc on our society. We’ve deconstructed the family unit thus eliminating the idea of a father and mother structured household. We pretend women can be fathers and vice versa; after all, a woman has the right to be a man if she wants to. The culture instructs actual fathers how they should raise their boys, things like, not assuming their gender allowing them to grow into who they are. Furthermore, men ought to use appropriate language with their sons and not use outdated and harming parenting techniques.

Ignore what the culture is telling you, it’s nonsense.

We need fathers telling their boys it’s okay to be a boy. Teach chivalry, ladies first, watch what you say around women, never hit a girl, etc. Do not be ashamed fathers to teach your boys traditional values. It’s okay to say things like; ‘be a man’, (in the right context), and things of this nature. Not only is it okay, but your son yearns to hear it. He wants to tells stories of how his dad made him tough it out. That he is found victorious of the task at hand. Wisdom is needed in this process, a father must know when some things can be toughed out and when others can’t but as a dad, you need to discover that point.

This does not mean that dads can’t be nurturing. The same dad that tells his boy to tough it out can kiss a scraped knee; it’s about context. The point is, it’s a dad’s job to look into the soul of his son and tell him to be a man, no woman can do that.

In my first year of football as an eight-year-old, I got knocked flat on my back, (got the wind knocked out of me). I’m on my back gasping for air.  Over walks my dad, he picked me up by my shoulder pads, puts me back on my feet, and says, “welcome to football son,” then walks away.

Ten years later as I played in college, I told him (near tears) to stop traveling so far to come to watch me stand on the sidelines. Without hesitation he replied, “I don’t care if you play or not, you’re my son and I love you.”

That is the wisdom of fathering. 

A boy doesn’t dream about becoming just like his mom, he dreams of being like his dad. One of the biggest compliments or insults you can give a man is telling him he is just like his father.

If you don’t understand the importance of a father-son bond than look at Scriptures. Read about the unity between Christ and his Father, it all stems from there. It’s an intimate bond that goes far past the physical into the spiritual. This is why a believing father needs to point his son to his Heavenly Father. By word and action everyday talk about God, pray and read the Bible with your son. Shepherding your son into the arms of God is the most important job a father has, there is no close second.

No father is perfect, nor shall there ever be one, but our nation needs them.

Happy Father’s Day, dad. I can only hope to raise my boys as you did me.

Will Vining is a passionate follower of Jesus. In his free time, he enjoys writing and going to the lake with his family. Follow Will on his Facebook page Will Vining

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