I was in a book study with a group of men who are committed to growing themselves in every good way, when the topic of fatherhood and our individual experiences, both as fathers and being fathered, came up. As we were working to relate our own methods of parenting, good and bad, back to the influences of our own parents, it dawned on me that we, as a modern society, have a single reference point for raising children: the parenting techniques of our parents or lack thereof. I was also hit with the notion that most men have no experience raising anything until we are thrown into the high-pressured and unfamiliar world of fatherhood. Thankfully, one of the men — thanks Skipper — said this would be a good topic for an article, and I believe he is right. It is probably a good topic for a book, but I’ll have to finish the first few tomes before starting yet another project.
The Natural Laws We are No Longer Taught
The Industrial Revolution ushered in a number of dramatic changes to the way we do “life”. Only on rare occasions does the artisan worker apprentice his son for the family trade, or does any man apprentice any youth for any trade. The days are long past for many men when husbandry began in his youth on the farm, and the rearing of cattle or sheep or pigs, and the growing of crops from the seed, taught him, in nature’s rough manner, the vital truths of the kind of character that is necessary for anything to be raised up rightly. Truths such as, the stalks grow strong and straight when the soil is right; that varmints come at night, when you’re sleeping, to take what you have poured your sweat and energy into; to judge a man by his fruit; late nights and unexpected emergencies are to be expected when caring for the weak and immature.
We can hear these truths today, and they may press upon us some modicum of wisdom of which we are in short supply, but they do not come about on their own, and they do not settle into our minds in the same manner as the man who has the experience of nature’s touch, smell, sight, and failures as a foundation for his worldview. Thus, when nature issues her high calling upon us as fathers, we have little to no experience with her, and embark upon the open waters of manhood and leadership, with a full crew, dependent upon our skills as a navigator and steady command, both being areas in which are sorely lacking.
The Consequences of Outsourcing Our Responsibilities
If we take stock of the areas in our life that we regularly outsource to someone else, the resulting list should be a clear indicator of why men are rarely “men” in the traditional sense and how little we see things through from start to finish.
Here is a quick list:
- Our food and water
- Our political policies
- Our finances
- Our children (to daycare, pre-school, school, etc.) – more on this below
- The building, and often times the maintenance, of our homes
- The mowing of our lawns
- The cleaning and grooming of our pets
- Our health and medical cost — “just get a pill from the doctor” or “insurance should pay for that”
- Our safety
- Our car maintenance
- Auto accidents and repair (we have insurance for that)
- The heating of our homes (used to be firewood or coal)
- The making, and sometimes the laundering, of our clothes
- Pretty much anything we consume on a regular basis
If we get into the details with any of the items in this list, we will quickly find that there are hundreds — or thousands — of things which we used to have a hand in, but have outsourced. Now, I am not saying that these are all bad things. There is a lot of time saved by not making our clothes and such, but it should be a wake-up call for us to realize that we are growing more and more useless as a people. Yet, our interaction and dependence upon our natural world are still very real, and the consequences for our growing lack of natural law and reason is taking a toll on the very lives we are attempting to live.
Outsourcing Our Children to the School System
Most families send their children to school. We have home schooled for most of our boy’s education — they are now 13 and 16 years old –, but they do go a few hours a week to classes with other teachers and peers. We even tried, briefly, to send one of our sons to public school, with high hopes, but it did not work out for the very reasons we decided to home school and likely the problems that most parents face with public schools. The years of home schooling have given me a point of view that not many parents have, since most parents send their kids to school rather than educating them at home.
Before I go further into this point, let me say that you can be a good parent and still send your kid to school. In fact, I think you will have to be a very good parent in order to do this in our modern society and still impart the much needed character into your children. However, the majority of parents feel that it is the school system’s job to raise their child. After all, the best hours of your kids day are spent with other adults and their peers. The remaining hours are generally spent getting dinner on the table (hopefully), knocking out homework, chores, and getting ready for bed. The weekends are often too busy to be considered “family time” and so goes the cycle where our children are perpetually more influenced by a society and school system we do not agree with than from their parents. To me, the worst thing about this is that most parents don’t seem to mind. I don’t know how many parents I have known over the years (particularly of young kids) that have told me how glad they were for Monday so they could drop their kids off at day care or school.
The Challenge to Men
I realize this can be a tough subject, especially if you have been down the road of sending your kids to school for years…you can feel trapped by the system. But, my challenge to you is this: Do you consider yourself the primary authority over your children’s, safety, health, education and character development? Or, do you see yourself as being at the mercy of a system, be it doctors, insurance, school systems, etc.?
You and I, along with our wives, are to be the primary influences in the lives of our children. We can permit teachers and coaches to help them out, particularly in areas that we do not possess the skill to instruct, but when those outside of the parenting hierarchy begin to fail our children, the buck stops with us. This is how a man leads. And he does what ever it takes, however odd it may be, however contrary to “how he was raised”, in order to lead his family and children in the direction of Godly character and wisdom.
It’s Time to Get Rearing
There is an analogy that I keep coming back to, because I see it being relevant to so many areas in our lives. It is this: We live in a society where being healthy and fit only happen through means of forced exertion. In other words, we have to hit the gym or CrossFit or F3 or what have you, and watch our diet, to keep our bodies running smoothly. It took some time for people to catch on to this, and many are still resistant.
I believe there are an increasing number of areas in our lives that are very similar. For example, we must pursue nature in order to experience the effects of being in nature. We must engage our minds in tasks that computers can do so that we maintain our capacity for reason. In the same manner, we must choose to do the hard tasks even though they can be outsourced, because we know it is good for us to do so.
Here are a few things any man can begin doing, and more importantly, can begin doing with his children:
- Grow something – Preferably something edible, but not tomatoes unless they are going in salsa, ketchup, or sauce (tomatoes are disgusting)
- Raise something – Every family should own a dog. Dogs need your care and they actually give a damn when you do something nice for them, unlike cats, which, let me remind you, have been associated with dark magic for eons.
- Build something – Dogs like dog houses. Kids like tree houses. Some people like outhouses. The point is, find a project and build it.
- Lead something – No matter how small you start, find something and lead it. The younger you can do this, the better. You will learn a lot about yourself and about other people.
How do you raise children in a society that raises nothing? You start raising some stuff and you teach your kids how to raise some stuff. Men, we have to set the example when the example is so badly needed. There are plenty of men more qualified to lead your family than you are, but there will never be a man who has as much God-given authority to do so.
Be the man you are called to be. It is a High Calling indeed.