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Five Secrets Great Dads Know
By Paul Coughlin
Bethany House PublishersCopyright © 2010 Paul Coughlin
All right reserved.
IntroductionWe're Dads, Not Moms
There was a time when we made too much of the differences between men and women. And women usually suffered. Now our culture has worked double time to get us to believe there are no differences between the sexes. For example, some point to the fact that the DNA of men and women differs by only 1 to 2 percent. This doesn't sound like much, until you realize that this is the same percentage of difference between women and female chimpanzees. (My wife didn't feel particularly blessed when I enthusiastically shared this fact with her.)
Women and men differ physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Mothers possess a greater ability to understand infants and children; they are more able to "distinguish between a child's cry of hunger and a cry of pain." Mothers release the polypeptide hormone oxytocin during pregnancy and breast-feeding, causing them to be more interested in bonding with children and engaging in nurturing behavior.
Fathers, by contrast, excel when it comes to discipline, play, and exhorting their children to embrace life's challenges. Physical play is far more important than most of us realize, promoting "social skills, intellectual development, and a sense ofself-control." A father's playful side teaches children how to regulate their feelings and behavior as they interact with others. Children who roughhouse with their fathers usually learn quickly that biting, kicking, and other such actions are not acceptable.
Fathers are more likely than mothers to encourage their children to take up difficult tasks, seek out fresh experiences, and endure pain and hardship without caving. "The bottom line is that fathers excel in teaching their children the virtues of fortitude, temperance, and prudence for life outside their family."
We're dads-not moms-so let's embrace this fact with gusto and the good kind of pride. We're not better than moms, just different, and this vital difference has been ignored and devalued to everyone's detriment. Men have felt dishonored and disposable. Women and children have felt abandoned in ways they may not be able to name but certainly feel in their day-to-day lives. Their lives have been missing vital nourishment for too long, like a body low on iron or vitamin B.
But change is afoot. Our value as men, as dads, is on the rise. Our essence is being called for again as in generations past, with a deep inner groaning. This call on behalf of society is real though still reluctant, like a father begrudgingly asking for directions on a family vacation. There's nobility to being a dad and that is coming back. Respect is mounting again like a wave a hundred yards or so offshore. We're coming to our senses. Handled with confidence and humility, we can erase much of the worry we have about the nature of a man and be a gift to those we are charged to honor, love, respect, protect, and guide.
I have children's best interests in mind. I've been a father for seventeen years, I've worked with children as a coach for more than ten, and I've written a book on parenting. I love kids, and I want them to fare well in the real world. I want them to fulfill their dreams and potential. I want them to walk hand in hand with God, to understand that nothing can separate them from his love. I want them to experience the strength of heart and clearness of mind that comes from genuine humility.
I want our daughters to know in the core of their soul that they are loved by God and valued by man. I want our sons to know in the core of their soul that they have what it takes to make it in life. I want our children to have the fortitude to persevere, the courage to create deep and abiding love (agape), and the will to undergo the difficult work that dirties the hands of fighters for peace and justice.
I want our children to be remarkable, better than average. Better at defending the small classmate who is pushed against lockers or ridiculed online. Better at befriending the one who is out of the clique or teased because she wears last year's shoe styles or a hairdo that is six months behind the fashion curve. Better at being less accepting of-and less silent about-what's really wrong and unacceptable in life. These children laugh more, play more, and weep more-they're emotionally attuned, spiritually vital, and pragmatically prepared to respond when virtue calls them to action.
Unfortunately, Christian and non-Christian parents alike are raising children who are passive, pleasant, and malleable rather than innovative, proactive, and bold. These "nice" children prevalently struggle with fear, anxiety, and loneliness, and later in life, relationship instability and divorce. Our goal as dads should be to create confident and truly virtuous kids who are capable of doing more than their part in obtaining an abundant life. These children become adults who lend their strength to others and help them obtain happiness as well.
How do we reach this goal? In the coming pages we'll look at the characteristics of great dads as well as some of the best things dads can do for their kids. I want to offer thoughtful, practical advice based on what I've learned, and it starts with the man you are.
Excerpted from Five Secrets Great Dads Know by Paul Coughlin Copyright © 2010 by Paul Coughlin. Excerpted by permission.
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