Friday, November 18, 2011

Dear Male Figures

Dear Male Figures,

It is unfortunate that you, who play arguably the biggest role in young children's lives, are falling short of the role everyone else expects of you.  Now I know that many of you are trying, or at least claim to be, but let's face it: when it comes to male figures having a positive influence on the lives of the children around them, more and more of you seem to be dropping the ball.  Some of you are just gone, and perhaps that is not fault of your own; perhaps you have been called off to war or have a job that requires you to be gone a lot.  That is understandable, but do not forget the other people in your life.  You may be putting a lot of food on your children's plates, but I am sure many of them would sacrifice an extra helping of broccoli for some time with their dad.  I don't know if you have noticed, but children today are hurting and lost; recently their have been many major news stories that have brought to light the failure of certain men to be positive influences on children, and instead became tormentors of children.  I do not mean to clump all male role models in with these detestable slugs, but I think there are a few reminders (however obvious they may be) that sadly need to be heard by many adult males on how to be a good role model:

To fathers:

Remember when you were in middle school?  Remember all the activities you did, like sports or drama or newspaper?  Remember how excited that stuff made you?  You were probably so thrilled to be a part of a team, cast, or writing staff that you couldn't wait to tell your parents when you got home, most notably your dad.  If you did not have a dad, remember how much you wish you did or that he was around or that we would actually care?  Well now it is your turn!  If you remember how rewarding it was to receive acclamation from your dad for all the things you did, it is your turn to give that same joyful feeling to your children; if you did not have a dad, or if he did not care, then it is your turn to make sure that your kids do not have to suffer that disappointment like you did.  Think about how depressed it made you when your dad did not seem to care; your kids will feel the same way if you do not get excited about them.  You are their cheerleader; you are the one they want to impress the most!  If you are not there to encourage them, they will look for it elsewhere; and that alternative is usually not a healthy one for them or your family.  Step up and be a dad.

To coaches...

Sometimes dads fail.  Sometimes kids do not have any positive male role model in their lives except you.  That is a huge responsibility!  If you don't want the burden of possibly stepping in as the main encourager or counselor for kids, then don't coach.  It's not about sports, it's about kids.  If you are coaching for your own selfish love of sports, find a different outlet.  Do not poison these kids with false accolades and motives; they think you are there because you like sports and you like them.  If it's all about you, reevaluate what you are doing.  Furthermore, and it is a shame this has to be said, DO NOT HAVE SEX WITH THE KIDS!  I mentioned earlier that some of these reminders would be obvious and this one is probably the most glaringly obvious.  It saddens me that this even needs to be said, but recent events that have been made public make it apparent that it needs to be.  It only takes a moment for a child's life to be ruined and your actions affect more people than just yourself and that child.  Men who molest children are the lowest of low and deserve a long and drawn out prison sentence (and that is even too good for them; I'm sure the parents of their victims have other ideas, ideas I would not necessarily object to).  You are a role model; not a parent, not a friend, and certainly not a sex partner!  Step up and be a coach.

To teachers...

Like coaches, you sometimes are the only positive male role model in a child's life.  Also like coaches, if you feel that is too much responsibility, find another line of work.  We who teach do it because we love it, and we love it because we love children.  There are some circumstances where you spend more time with a child in a day than their parents do.  That means that you have an extraordinary task to help mold these children into upstanding citizens.  You cannot do that if you show students that you do not care.  Some children do not have structure homes, so your classroom is the only place they find the structure they so desperately desire (even if they do not admit it).  You have been given a tremendous opportunity to change and influence the lives of children.  Therefore, and again it is a shame this has to be said, DO NOT HAVE SEX WITH YOUR STUDENTS!  Like I said before, you sometimes spend more time in a day with a child than their parents do.  Students who are molested at school therefore spend the majority of their days in a living hell.  You are a teacher, you are their to teach.  Students will sometimes trust you with their most significant problems; do not take that for granted.  Step up and be a teacher.

Dear pastors/priests...

To you falls perhaps the most important part of a child's young life: developing faith in God.  It is true that this is a responsibility that can and should be shared with teachers, but when a child has a serious question about faith, they will seek you out.  Pastors are God's representative to the churches they serve, which means that children are going to look up to you with a certain reverence.  Not that they think you are God Himself, but that you are more pure and more good than the evil in their lives.  They want someone like that in their lives, they need someone like that.  It is for this reason that you need to make time for the children in your church.  It is a great responsibility being a pastor, everyone wants a piece of your time; but that is the sacrifice you made when you took your vows.  The Bible says, and this applies to teachers too, "We who teach will be judged more harshly."  Pastors, you have accepted a call, a call that sets you apart from everyone else.  Not to say that you are better, but that you have consented to being held at a higher standard.  The eyes of the world are watching, just waiting for you to slip so that they can pounce on you and the entirety of God's church.  Therefore, and it is saddest that this has to be said to some of you, DO NOT HAVE SEX WITH CHILDREN!  Just yesterday a major figure in the Wisconsin Synod of the Lutheran Church was arrested for possessing and distributing child pornography.  It is not just Catholic priests, it is everywhere.  God is always watching, you who are ministers should know that better than anyone else.  If you truly believe what you preach, your personal life and actions MUST reflect it.  That is the call God extends to you and all believers, but because you are a leader you are held to an even higher standard.  Step up and be a pastor.

To all men...

Everything I have said to each of the groups above applies to you as well.  The Bible says that the male is to be head of the household and provide for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the family.  If that is too much responsibility, tough.  If you do not want to be an active participant in your child's life, then you have failed as a father and as a man.  Today's culture judges manhood on strength and stature and monetary accomplishments.  It should judge manhood on fatherhood, or on how positively a man influences the people around them.  Strength, stature, and wealth will all fade away, but the lessons men can teach kids and the lasting affect their words and actions have on children can spread through generations.

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