I can certainly say that I have seen positive steps toward maturity in my son.
I can also say that I see a lot of highway in front of him. It is certain that our father/son relationship has grown. There is a growing bond between us that is undeniable. There are times when I am able to speak things into his life that I actually see him embracing them. There are also times that the things I say run head-on into a brick wall of stubbornness! From my side of the fence though, this experience has helped me to recognize some ideals that I have about my son that are just that—my ideals. I realize that I must be careful not to convey those ideals to him. My task in this journey is to assist him in discovering manhood—his manhood, not my idea of manhood for him. To be sure, there are morals and values that I believe are vital to be imparted into his live. However it is also important for me to understand the difference between those morals and values and my perception of his manhood. I am thankful that I have been able to see this at such an early stage of the journey. It has caused me to wonder how many fathers have the same ideal expectations for their sons, only without a way to honestly identify them or have any meaningful dialogue with their sons about them. Our American culture does not lend itself to cultivating such relationships. The lack of a rite of passage in our society may have a greater impact on father/son relationships than we realize. It was not until I began this journey with my son that I discovered these ideals were lurking in the back of my mind. As I think back, I am able to see that comments that have been made in the past have stemmed from these ideals. How many times have fathers in the past been guilty of the same mistake? How many times have these mistakes been the leading factor in separating the father/son relationship? Perhaps too many to imagine.
Since I have some understanding of how the human psyche works, I know that these expectations—whether realized or not—act as filters that our thoughts must pass through before coming to a conclusion about a matter. Only then will a statement be made. The process itself isn’t wrong, but perhaps the filtration system that is place may be. Let me explain. My son acts a certain way that I disapprove of. I cannot tell him precisely why I disapprove of his actions, but I can certainly scold him for the disapproval. The filter that my thoughts have passed through carry the reasoning behind why I feel the way I do. A common response might be, “It is just the way it is,” or “Because I said so!” The point here isn’t to get into psychological reasoning, but rather to point out something I believe to be very profound.
This journey has enabled me to realize that I have to make some adjustments that will both free me as well as assist my son in his journey. If this journey is an important as I have made it out to be—and it is—then I must be open to making the necessary changes that will bring about the maximum benefit for my son. To take this one step further, if this relationship is to lay a foundation for the remainder of our lives—and it is—then I must be willing to talk openly and honestly with my son about them. This means I must allow myself to become vulnerable in front of my son—far easier said than done. I believe the importance of this is to give him a living example of how this manhood thing works. It isn’t about being perfect; it is about being real and who better to be real with than your son—or your dad!