I was so fortunate to be raised in a family where authentic manhood was not only valued but modelled. My father was an amazing man who loved our mum and they were so honourable and faithful in their relationship towards one another.
Don’t get me wrong, my parents were not perfect. Mum was sometimes overly passionate and Dad was the more reflective type who knew how to move strategically into the selective hearing zone! However being of the reflective nature like my dad, as I think about my upbringing and the kind of man he was, I can see just how great of a role model he really was.
Dad was a solid provider for his family. We didn’t always drive the best or latest model car in the district, but we still managed to have the occasional holiday at “Bleak House” or “Palace Courts” across the road from the beach in St Kilda. When we moved from the old “Ford Customline” to a brand new “HD Holden”, we were so impressed.
My dad lived through two world wars and the depression. He was a hard working-man who knew how to make a living from the land. Our property in the heart of Central Victoria was 800 hectares (about 2,000 acres in the old scale). He worked hard and had to overcome all sorts of issues to survive. Droughts, floods and Life had its challenges, but honestly it was great.
While he loved his children, he was prepared to step up and discipline us if he needed to. Some of his methods would be regarded as ‘illegal’ or abuse in today’s soft and often dysfunctional society however it was mostly threats and we always knew that! He was strong but gentle and his word was his bond. If we were in trouble at school, he didn’t automatically do what so many “wet-between-the-ears” parents do these days and defend their cherubs when they probably just needed a clip over the ears as was common in those days! If my older brothers overdid it by pushing the boundaries too far, a meeting with the policeman in Rushworth was not out of the question. The older generation had a way of co-operating in an honourable way to reinforce the importance of authority.
He could never have been described as a wowser or a bigot. He was raised in mainstream religion as the majority were in our district. He was not “outwardly” religious, but led his family to church every Sunday. Family prayer was a regular event in our house. Functional faith was modelled to us. One of my dad’s significant qualities was his self-sacrificial lifestyle. I grew up with seven siblings. We were all given the opportunity of a first class boarding school education for the final years of our secondary education. My youngest sister “escaped” what we thought was a “traumatic” boarding school experience because our family relocated from the farm at Wanalta to the larger regional centre, Bendigo to provide better opportunities for myself and my two younger sisters. Leaving the family farm was not an easy transition to my father who was then approaching his seventies.
I remember an incident that happened one morning in Bendigo that has resulted in my dad living on in my heart and memory as a real man and nothing less than a true legend!
While driving my younger sister to school at St. Mary’s in Bendigo a car travelling from the other direction veered towards us. My dad’s first reaction was to protect my sister from injury. Fortunately it was a near miss but my dad, who passed away at age 91, lives on as a true hero to me.
For me, the next few years meant finding a job in the bank and doing what most young blokes were doing in the seventies…I was one of the pioneers of the afro hairdo in Bendigo and on occasions I was probably over .05 when I drove a vehicle making many stupid decisions amongst some of the smarter life choices (such as marrying my wife Lynne!!).
That being the case, my dad’s genuineness left an indelible mark on my life.
Manhood is an art that has been lost and needs to be rediscovered. Many of our concepts of manhood, both good and bad, are imparted to us by our parents.
I hope that your memories of your father are positive. There is no such thing as a perfect father, but your experience can have such a powerful impact on your way of thinking, your emotional health and the way you live today. Some can’t embrace the concept of God, because He is a Father too.
This generation has a lot of “father wounds”. Really, we don’t have to look far to see a lot of broken lives. If our concept of manhood is inaccurate or harmed by our experience, then it cannot help but play out in our life.
It’s never too late to begin to go on a journey of rediscovery that can not only bring some healing, but also can empower us to be all that we are meant to be.