Father’s Day Message: It’s Time To “Man Up”

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.

Cinderella Man Trailer

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!


  1. My husband and I really do like to eat out but, like everyone, we are tightening our belts. So, we started searching out the Mystery Shopping companies that have assignments at our favorite restaurants. We now go out to eat a couple of times a week but, get reimbursed plus paid a small amount of money. It works for us!

  2. I fail to understand what kind of a man can enjoy his life leaving behind his family in misery …must be sick …I also feel it is a matter of the kind of upbringing one gets..a person getting good upbringing and a loving and caring dad would most probably grow up to become one .

  3. I applaud these sentiments. I have only one small quibble. You said, “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.”

    I would only say that the “needs” of children are often overestimated in our culture, to the detriment of the marriage. First and foremost, children deserve a strong family with parents who model respect, loyalty, and sticking together through thick and thin. One of the very best things a mother or father can do for their child is to value their spouse and their marriage. Sometimes that means making the marriage a priority. This need not interfere with the true needs of children, but it may sometimes take precedence over their wants, and over what our culture too often thinks is “necessary” for children. Make your marriage marriage-centered, not child-centered. It’ll be better for the family as a whole in the long run.

  4. Father’s Day isn’t just a day to honor and remember your father. It’s a day to remember what it means to be a father.

    It’s time to man up more than you ever know. Being a good father is a big juggling act. There’s no time for egos and insecurities here. A man who tries hard and doesn’t quite meet his own expectations is a far better man than one who just gives up.

    I got this lesson from another angle too. I was in a situation where I helped raise a kid whose father skipped out on him. 14 years later, child support enforcement finally caught up with the deadbeat dad. Let this be a warning to those who don’t man up. His wages will be garnished and the IRS will seize his tax refund until all the back child support is paid in full.

  5. Great and timely post, and I would much rather hear this advice coming from you rather than Barack Obama. I’m not the worst Dad but I have a long way to go to be the man that my Dad was. Reading words of encouragement like these keep me going. Thanks.

  6. Finally… a man speaking like a man to other men. If only our leaders understood how to lead men!

    Morality, commonsense, and personal responsibility are the building blocks of what made this country great. When these character cornerstones begin to erode, as we are witness to in our modern culture, the country itself will indeed erode along with it.

  7. I agree. However, it would be nice if “the system” were set up to make sure the child support you send every month is spent on your child!

  8. If only you could talk to my son in law. He will NEVER man up and is over 3k in arrears with child support and keeps buying more and more toys vs. diapers for his kids.

    Hope you had a wonderful father’s day, you deserve it!

  9. I completely agree with the earlier post by Kate. I have seen so much money wasted and kids spoiled by “adults” who do not properly see their role as leaders.

    I absolutely love this post. As a woman, it is very difficult to “let” my husband lead and is a learned skill for me because I had no example in childhood. I really do think men are very marginalized by their wives and society at large. When a true man is not present in a home, the children of that home have no idea what a real man can do.

    As to the bitter arguments between spouses and misuse of child support, to me it illustrates a complete lack of family leadership in showing children the enormous responsibility and repercussions of one’s choice in a spouse. That they are 90 percent of one’s future happiness or misery is not an overstatement. A prime concern for all parents should be ensuring that their children are not blinded by lust when choosing a spouse.

  10. I don’t like what father’s day has become.

    I’m not a father yet, but I’m the son of a GREAT dad. Yesterday was spent with my father-in-law (another great man) and my own dad, doing what they wanted to do and generally giving them a day off.

    It seems to me that while Mother’s Day is a day to thank Mom and praise her for raising us, Father’s Day is a day to tell all men everywhere that they’re not doing enough. The one’s who do a great job get nothing, while the slackers get a scolding. Every year I hear it in the Sunday sermon, on TV commercials (thanks, Mr. President), and in Father’s Day articles.

    Before you all start yelling at me, I AGREE that there are plenty of dead-beat dads out there that need to be taken behind the wood shed. I find nothing in particular in this post offensive or incorrect.

    All I’m saying is that for those of us who were raised by fantastic moms AND dads, it’d be nice to get away from the “we’ve gotta do better” speeches and “make sure to spend time with your kids” reminders that Father’s Day has become. Just remember that some dads did it right.

  11. @Matt: You do make a good point. These types of sentiments are never expressed on Mother’s Day, even though there are plenty of examples of bad moms out there, too. Thanks for making me think about it in that light…very interesting.

  12. An interesting article and a good reminder. But what do you do when the father remarries and provides money for the children but nothing else. Sometimes (actually most times!)I think the emotional support of a father are even more important than the money!
    I am seeing the effects now of a father who ignored his daughters for many years and both of them now have great difficulty trusting men in relationships.
    I have tried all methods to try and engage him with the children but he is a man who likes an “easy life” and his current wife objects to him being involved with the youngest daughter in particular…. she is the one in most need of a father/daughter relationship and even at 28 feels very sad about it. His response is “we have a different life now”. I am quite sure other men have found a way to embrace their relationships with their children of the first marrage whilst not neglecting the second wife (who he has no children with).
    Any advice? I am concerned about my adult daughter who still craves a relationship with her dad to no avail. It is very sad