Becoming a man and a father requires the ability to commit to your family and to sacrifice for them. Here is a frank interview of a dad who had to learn the virtue of commitment while on the job.
Benjamin Franklin said, “Honesty is the best policy.” Zig Ziglar, one of the world’s greatest motivational speakers, put it this way,
“The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love, and loyalty.”
These were the thoughts that were coming to me as I talked recently to John Lissaman about being a dad and a husband. I asked John what the biggest challenge was that he found about being a dad. The honesty of his answer surprised me.
John: “I think one of the biggest challenges was actually realising that this is not about me anymore… It’s about growing this child into someone whom I hope will be better than me.”
A New Reality
Warwick: “Yes, it’s funny how that realisation does hit you and it’s funny how it can take a little while to hit you.
I think for women, the very act of carrying the baby for the full nine months. It’s the sacrifice, it’s the pain, it’s the discomfort and then of course she goes through the pain of childbirth. That means blood, sweat, tears, quite literally. A woman goes through a baptism of fire to have a child.
She is committed to being committed, because the only way forward is commitment. It seems to me John, that we as men must learn commitment — correct? What are your thoughts? Do you think that’s a crazy idea or what?”
Becoming a Man
John: “No, I don’t think it’s a crazy idea. And I think we’re all different. Somebody asked me, When did I become a man? I don’t think I became a man until quite recently.
I think I was a big kid, running around, pretending to be a man. And so, I imagine that some men take on that responsibility a lot easier than others.
I was certainly one of the ones who didn’t learn commitment. Through my wife’s pregnancy, I certainly didn’t, and it was only at the birth and shortly thereafter that I realised there was that commitment. So for me, it was something I needed to learn, absolutely, and I’ve been learning it ever since.
Your commitment changes, you always have the commitment to bringing up your children, but as they get older, it changes as they change. Now my daughter’s nearly 13, my commitment is very different to what it was 13 years ago.
It’s more about giving her some autonomy and allowing her to grow as a woman. The commitment is still there to support her and encourage her but it’s quite different to what it was 13 years ago. So, you’re always learning as a father.”
Rites of Passage
Warwick: “This whole issue of men who are little boys who think life is all about them is critical. I wish personally that I had a rites of passage ceremony around twelve or thirteen.
That’s something I am a big advocate for now. But it strikes me, we’ve got a lot of men here in Australia and around the world, in the western world in particular, that basically have never really grown up.
They still think that life is about them. You and I know that if we go through life thinking it’s all about us, it’s actually quite a narrow viewpoint, because it’s not just about us.
Yes, we are important, but other people are important. Our wife’s important, our children are important, our family is important. There’s this sense that as a man we have to learn about commitment.
We need to learn how to sacrifice and that’s something that needs to be instilled at a much younger age. Would you agree with that statement?”
That rite of passage is vitally important. It’s not something that I ever went through. It was just normal, at the time, to just grow up and you went along in your life.
You know I have regrets that I didn’t grow up into a man at an earlier age. I wonder what my life would be like now if I had had that rite of passage and had grown up into a man at an earlier age.
As I mentioned earlier, prior to getting married I think I was quite hedonistic, and it was really all about me. I don’t believe I seized every opportunity I was given and there is an element of regret there.
All I can do now is hope that I move forward, with better intentions, and perhaps by having this discussion today we might trigger things in younger men and younger fathers.
That they can have a think about where they are, and they can have a think about whether they need to step up and be that man and go through a rite of passage themselves.”
The above is just a small slice of the conversation with some edits for clarity. We also talked about the benefits of eating together as a family, the issue of taking responsibility, the importance of the sex conversation for our children, the power of the Courageous Fathering Course, growing your children to be better than you, and much, much more. Watch the full interview here.
John has given us all some food for thought. Maybe our Lovework is as simple as thinking a bit more about the challenges John has given us about being a man and a father. Happy thinking!
Yours for the Challenge,
PS: John and his children featured in our appeal this week for help in our mission of putting more ‘Smiles on more Children’s Faces’. Watch the video here. If you would like to help us change the world one man at a time and help create more happy families, donate now!