I first heard the expression “man up” from my high school football coach. When we got tired, and started complaining about the heat, or hurting, or needing a break, he simply replied, “You better man up!” As a teenage boy I got the message, and played through exhaustion and injuries, even the one that ultimately derailed my plans to attempt to play football at the next level.
Today I’m a 31 year-old husband and father of two. Fourteen years removed from those experiences on the football practice field, I still find reasons to tell myself to “man up.” I see lots of examples of dads not acting like men when it comes to providing for their children, financially and emotionally.
For those who need an example of what it means to “man up” and take care of your family, I’ll share the following trailer from one of my favorite movies, Cinderella Man. Jim Braddock knew a thing or two about taking care of his family – playing through pain, swallowing his pride, sacrificing everything for this family, and fighting for what he believed in. We don’t have enough modern day Jim Braddocks walking around, but fortunately, we have great films like this to remind us what they used to look like.
I have a lot of respect for men who provide financial support for their children even when things don’t work out between them and their spouse. I have zero respect for fathers who don’t. To me, there is no higher calling than being a parent, and that means that after you have children you put their needs above your own. You sacrifice the spoils of single life and “man up” to take care of your family.
Unfortunately, I see plenty of examples of males (they aren’t men), who put their needs ahead of those of their family. They might be there for their family physically, but emotionally they are bankrupt. These are the types of guys so busy boosting their egos in the corporate world that they forget to boost their kid’s confidence by showering them with attention at home.
I’m not talking about the guy who works 60 hours a week because he has to, or the guy deployed around the world to serve his country, I’m talking about the guy that works long hours because he wants to. You know the type – he finds reasons to work late and volunteer for travel to avoid the “noise” at home. To him I say, it’s time to “man up.”
Finally, there is the guy who still lives the single life, partying with friends and buying all kinds of big-boy toys for himself while the basic needs of his family are not met. I’ve seen guys like this drooling over cars, or boats, or computers, or paintball supplies while there kids are standing in the background with holes in their shoes and clothes that don’t fit. I just can’t understand that thinking, because I would give everything for my wife and kids. That is the essence of being a real man. That is what it means to be a “frugal dad.”
On this, the longest day of the year, there is no excuse not to reconnect with your kids. Go enjoy a few quiet moments with them outside, teaching them to appreciate the nature that surrounds us. Take the kids for a walk around the block, or at the park. Give them a call if you are separated. Whatever your circumstances, “man up” and be a great dad!