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The Intentional Father–and the Ways We’re Weak

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
March 16, 2022 10:00 pm

The Intentional Father–and the Ways We’re Weak

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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March 16, 2022 10:00 pm

In intentional fatherhood--how do we handle the ways we're weak? Author Jon Tyson offers tactics and hope to deal with inevitable wounds and weaknesses.

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They did research in NYU asking the question, when did helicopter parenting begin and what was the consequences of it? 1990 was the year it began and within a decade, the rates of depression and anxiety increased by 80% in one decade.

It's because kids no longer knew if they had what it took. It was like mom did everything for them. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson and you can find us at or on our Family Life app.

This is Family Life Today. So I'm sitting on the couch with CJ. How old was he?

He was nine. You weren't there. I think we're watching TV. Probably football. Probably. Probably.

We still do. Anyway, somehow we get in this discussion about mistakes and dad mistakes. And I say to him, I go, CJ, did you know that the Bible actually says that the mistakes that a dad makes will go down into his sons? And the sons and daughters could possibly make the same mistakes. You know, sins of the father.

I didn't use that term, but I just said because of that. Did that scare him? I just remember he just looked at me, you know, again, he might have been eight or nine.

He just looks at me. I go, CJ, what do you think of that? Oh, I did use the word sin because I then quoted Exodus 20 because it's in the Ten Commandments. A lot of people don't realize it's in the Ten Commandments. It's that important that God said be careful as a dad because it's going to go into your legacy. And I remember saying the word sin and CJ, nine years old, I'll never forget this moment, just looks at me. I go, CJ, what do you think? He goes, Dad, don't sin. And he gets up and walks out of the room. You know, it's just like non-shot, like, of course, don't do it because if you're going to do it, I'm going to do it. But he got it.

He got it and now he's 35. And it's crazy to see that my sons have taken things from me good and bad. Some things they never knew I struggle with, they're struggling with. Let me ask you, as a dad, as a father and as a man, does that scare you? Oh, the power we have to influence our sons and daughters is scary. I mean, it's awesome that God gave us this power and moms have it too.

And I think that we as moms feel that and we watch. I remember saying to you, do you understand the power you carry? Because I watched three little boys watching you constantly. They didn't watch me, they were watching you. And I said, man, you've got so much power over them.

It's amazing. And it's also scary for the wife because I can tend to be critical and like, you should do this and that. But I was almost jealous of the power you carried over our sons.

Yeah, the scary thing is you want to have a vision for your son being a better man than you are. And we've got John Tyson back with us today who's not only a dad, because you know this from a dad's heart, from a pastor's heart. And as an author who wrote about this, welcome back to Family Life Today. It's good to be back and enjoying continuing on this conversation.

Well, tell us, as you were sitting over there, I saw you smiling a bunch. What were you thinking about this whole conversation about the power of a dad, the sins of the father? I was just thinking about like, how have I messed my son up? I'm thinking through his life and what he struggles with. And I'm like, that's mine, that's from me, that's from his mother, that's from the culture. I'm just like thinking through those things.

And most of it's from his mother. It's huge. You know, that's how it goes. Oh, yeah. For us, it's always the model. No, I'm kidding.

But think about this. And you wrote about this in your book, The Intentional Father, A Practical Guide to Raise Sons of Courage and Character. And if you missed yesterday, I'm just telling you, listen and get the book. This book is going to change your life as a dad. But something you said yesterday I wanted to follow up on, this concept called the father wound, that we have sort of a wound from our dads.

Is it universal? Even if you're the best dad in the world, is there a sense that somehow you're not going to be enough for your son? I think you're addressing two things, and they're both true. One thing is like, will a father always feel inadequate? Like in some measure, yes. If you realize the sacred power, as you mentioned, that we have in parenting, you realize we are shaping lives.

We are releasing destinies. We're saying throwaway phrases that will either wound or release a kid into 50 years in the future. I mean, it's an extraordinary sacred power that we have. It's a trust we're given. The downside of that is that it will be inevitable that we hurt our kids.

It will be inevitable. Psychologists tell us wounds happen in two categories. It's either a lack of protection or a lack of nurture, which means parents don't stop things happening to us that harm us, or parents fail to give us the emotional nourishment and connection that we need. And if you trace brokenness down to the roots of childhood, you'll often find it's in those two things. It's like I didn't feel loved enough, affirmed enough, blessed. Or my parents didn't put boundaries up in there for I experienced the harm of the world way too early.

And so I think in some sense, we are doing both of those things in some small measure. And to be honest with you, I think for sons a lot of times, it is like my father was not nurturing enough. I wasn't affirmed enough. I wasn't blessed. I wasn't cared for.

I wasn't encouraged. He was absent. He was emotionally distant. He was critical.

He was distracted. That seems to be the number one sort of wounding that I see. And strangely enough with daughters often, it's actually often the opposite. It's more like there was not enough protection.

The boundaries weren't firm enough. Those are big generic pastoral observations, but I think those categories bear themselves true. In some sense, we're always wounding, even with our best intent. They normally, we either do it in two categories, we either don't nurture like we should or we don't protect like we should. Yeah, and one of the reasons I ask is obviously I felt that with an absent father. But then, you know, as a young father and raising sons, and I had a plan. And I sort of took them through rites of passage. And in some sense, as they grew into men, I was thinking, I did a pretty good job. And you probably did do a pretty good job. Well, here's the thing.

It's funny. I never thought I did a great job, but I was like, man, I did so much better than my dad. And, you know, they're going to be men and they're going to thank me someday. And then they became men and they sit down and go, dad, there's some things that you did that hurt me. I'm like, what? You know, we've had those adult conversations, which I think every dad and mom is going to have at some point with your adult kids.

Maybe not. But in some sense, I was like, really? You felt hurt or let down in some way. And of course, I should have expected that. Well, I mean, I think the good thing is you've had a healthy enough relationship where they feel like they can bring that to you. That's what I was going to say. It says a lot about you that they would come and feel safe and that they could say it.

I just want them to do it with Ann, not me. It may be happening on the side. I know my son talks to my wife, Christy, in ways he doesn't talk to me. And the older they get, when the kids get older and they get into it, they'll probably realize, you know, gosh, dad probably did better than we're aware of. I mean, overall, my sons have been unbelievably appreciative and affirmative. But let me ask you this, because I've never asked a fellow pastor who's a dad this question. Because two of my three sons said I was more intimate in my sermons with the congregation than they felt I was with them as their sons.

They said they'd be sitting there even as teenagers sometime and I'd be sharing something with a thousand people that's very vulnerable and weakness and a struggle or something. And they would turn to each other and go, did you know that? I didn't know that.

Look at that. He is bearing his soul to people that he doesn't even know and won't do that or hasn't done that in the family room. I never do this when they're teenagers, but now that they're 30-year-old men, they sat me down and said, dad, you know, that was hurtful. And I had no idea. And I'll tell you this, John, the second it came out of their mouth as adult men, I was like, you're a thousand percent right.

There was no defensive difference. I was like, ooh, have you experienced any of that as a father and as a pastor? You'd have to ask my son about that. I mean, I think I've got the benefit. You're probably a decade older than me.

Hey, you don't have to rub it in. No, I mean, I say it with honor. I think I'm older than a decade. Yeah, I'm 44. Okay. So how old are you?

Two decades. Okay, gotcha. There you go. I'm glad you thought I was younger, though, so that's a compliment. I actually inherited, I think, the wisdom of your generation of fatherhood, because I think stuff like that, I picked up on that.

Yeah. I think it was honestly at pastors' conferences and talks to dads about ministry and family dynamics. It was always, you know, don't share stuff with the congregation that you haven't shared with your family first. And look, it's almost not fair as a pastor. You've got to come up with a compelling 30 to 40 minute talk every week. Every week.

It's like, dude, you're mining for content. Right. You're like, oh, let me go back. I haven't shared about the Texas scenario before.

What about Tennessee? Okay, what about my early 20s? You're looking for fresh stuff. Those people are there every week, so you've got to be kind on yourself in some capacity. But I definitely got those family boundaries. Ask for permission before you share anything. Yeah, yeah.

Make sure you share it with your family. And I think, again, that may be something that I received as a blessing from an older generation. One of the things I picked up in your book, though, and you tell me if I'm accurate on this, is I, as I assessed even that hurt from my sons, in my mind it was courage. It was easier to be intimate with a thousand, because you're really not. You appear to be, but you're still holding a lot back as a pastor.

But it takes courage to look a 15 year old in the eye and go somewhere intimately, you know, in a conversation. But when I was reading your book, it felt like you have done that with Nate. I think I was very in touch with this.

I was very in touch with the world is a confusing place. If you're a young man, your body is filled with chemicals. It's pushing you outward. You've got erotic energy, you know, and you're surrounded by kids binge watching porn on their phones. It's a very confusing place. You're trying to test yourself with other men. You're looking for a sense of identity and belonging.

And it's like they're very confusing years to navigate. And so I knew that from my own experience, I would have projected confidence. I don't need this. I'm fine. Dad, don't talk.

Why are you talking to me? This is weird. My heart ached for it. And I think I just remembered my heart aches for this. And I'm not going to go for my son's surface behavior.

I'm going to go for his heart. And I think there is a universal longing in the male heart to experience this. So I just like pushed through and said, hey, I don't know if this is helpful or not. But I want to share this with you because I remember very clearly when I was your age. And I try not to prescribe. I try to empathize. You know, I would never say something like, well, look at your first girlfriend.

You're 15. Don't worry about it. But like I'll be like I try to experience it to the degree that he was experiencing.

At this point in his life, this is the biggest emotional event of his life. I need to respond and enter in like it is. And I think that just maybe was God's grace or maybe because I'm a super introspective person.

I was trying to get in touch with him. I spent a lot of time actually. Like I don't know if this is a best practice. I didn't put it in the book. But it's like one of the reasons I did. I would always ask myself when I was 14, what was I experiencing? And I'd go back. Was I dating anybody?

Who were my teachers? What was I feeling? What was I tempted by? Where was I confused?

Where was I insecure? And I try to like emotionally reenter that. And then when I talk to my son, I think it had a tone of like humility and concern rather than like confidence and projection.

And you know, maybe that's one of the things that opened the doors was like really trying to remember that emotionally, not just intellectually. And then enter in emotionally at the state I felt like my son was at. Well John, the earlier episode we talked about the five kinds of fathers. The irresponsible father, the ignorant father, the inconsistent father, the involved father.

All the eyes. And then yes, the intentional father is where we ended. And like even you sharing that story of like you wanted to connect with your son's heart. You want him to know you. You guys want a relationship. And that's that intentional father. And you have really gone to lengths. I love that you not only talk about it, but you give us instructions of how you've done this with your son. And it started, how did you decide like, okay, it's starting at 13.

Why then? If you study anthropology, you basically realize almost every society that's existed except ours, late modern society, has had a conscious agreed upon pathway of formation for young men. So there's a guy named James Hollis, who's a Jungian psychologist. He's done like a, he's basically a midlife specialist. He talks about the two adulthoods. And it's like, it's been popularized at a thousand levels.

The halftime crisis, falling upwards. He's sort of like the psychological framework behind it. And he said the first adulthood is prepared at around age 13 because that's when a boy is basically experiencing puberty.

And then he's like trying to deal with these conflicting new energies. This is all societies had a six step process to guide these energies into productive manhood. Step number one was severing from the childhood environment, often by force, which means that kids were pulled out and had to realize you are entering into a liminal space. Childhood is over.

It's like the naive kid has to die somehow. And so they were consciously removed, sometimes by force. Secondly, there was like a death of childhood that in some societies, like we do baptism buried with Christ. They would do like a death of childhood ceremony, sometimes putting them in coffins.

Then they would do basically a series of formational frameworks around three areas. Number one, the religion of the community. This is what it means to believe in our God as our people. Number two, the history of the people. This is what it means to be one of us.

And then number three, here's the roles you have to be good at to contribute to the society that you were born into. That would go on for some time. Then they would enter into a thing called the ordeal. And the ordeal was where they were sent out on their own to figure out whether all of those things they've learned actually worked.

Did they possess them? So for the Australian Aboriginals, Michael Easter writes about this book in his book, The Comfort Crisis. Aboriginal young men were sent out into the outback for up to six months. Everything in the outback is trying to kill you.

The sun, the earth, and every creature you see. Is this like at 13? Later in teenage years, not at 13, 13's initiation. But like towards the end of it, towards adulthood, do you have what it takes is the question that was being asked of them. If they passed that, they would be welcomed back, blessed by and recognized by the community of men. And then they'd be integrated back into society to serve as a functional member of the tribe. And if they didn't pass it, they were dead. That's exactly right.

Six months. So this is an important point, which I mentioned. There was actually a lot of pushback. Originally, there's a thing in there where a mom does what's called a directional dinner.

So in the course that this book is built off, it was called a severing dinner. And the amount of pushback I get is universal. What are you talking about? Mothers are important. I'm like, obviously, the fact that they inflict this wound shows their importance. Yeah.

And so it basically says, you know, like the primary role of formation shifts from the mother to the father for a conscious period of time. Well, you even said your wife cried. Yes. Oh, this is awful. I remember it so clearly.

Ran into the room, fell on the bed. Yes. So I asked my son when we're hiking across Spain. I don't think I started doing this with him to turn this into a thing.

I did this with him because I loved my son. I was like, I got to figure this out. I got so much feedback over the course of time. People were like, hey, you should turn this into a thing.

So when I was doing that, I said, hey, I want to check with you. Hey, this is going to be a lot about your life. My son gets the profits from this book, not me. It's how I'm paying for his school. So it's like he was open to it.

Yeah, I bet he was open to it. So I said, hey, there's like quite a lot of controversy around the severing dinner. And he stopped. We're walking across Spain. He stops and he goes, what are you talking about that?

I was like, do people feel like it was too barbaric? And he said, that was so helpful for me psychologically. He's like, it was so helpful for me.

I needed to know I was being pushed over into the community of men. He's like, I needed that line in the sand. He's like, you cannot take that out. This is my son. You cannot take that out, dad.

Young men will need this. Well, talk about it. What was the ceremony?

Yeah, and what's this walk across Spain? That's not something we hear every day. That came later.

Go back to the severing. I mean, it's basically, they did research in NYU asking the question, when did helicopter parenting begin? And what was the consequences of it? And the helicopter parent is like, you know, is the over-involved parent who just does everything for their kid. Writing their resume. Yeah, like all of those things.

You name it. 1990 was the year it began. And within a decade, the rates of depression and anxiety increased by 80% in one decade. And it's because kids no longer knew if they had what it took. It was like mom did everything for them. Now they're talking about bulldozer parents who just like clear the way.

It's not even hovering. It's like they literally get rid of all the obstacles for their kids. Call the college professor if they're mean to the child sort of a thing. Yeah. It's like 80% increase in anxiety and depression. Like that is like such a sociological shift.

And I think it's because young people need a chance to test themselves and grow and express. And I think there's something that happens. So there's not some sort of like Oedipus complex or whatever where a young boy has to be severed from the influence of his mother and handed to his father. Now my wife and my son have an incredible relationship.

And they did the entire time. But she would say to him, your father has to help you with this. He can give you things I cannot give you.

I have not been what you're going through. So I pushed you back to your father. And her goal was to like help cement that relationship.

Connected to this, the whole idea was like the difference between a boy and a man is like a series of shifts that have to happen to see this change work. And she knew that like she had a heart of comfort. And so she would always like, it's okay. You're going to be okay rather than you got to suck it up, man. Life is hard.

You're going to have to push through this. So she didn't want that to be a dominating influence. She wanted him to have to lean into the pain and the development. So yeah, she took him out for a dinner and said, I'm handing you over to your father for a period of conscious male formation. Blessed him, wrote a letter to him, read it over him through tears, gave him some gifts, said, I trust you, but this is now a journey you've got to take with your father.

I'll be here to support you, but like you and him are going to go into this journey of manhood. And what do you say to the single mom or maybe even a blended family where it's a different dad or first talk about single mom. My mom was a single mom. The best case scenario, like I believe there is some sacred role that a biological father has to his children that is like it's there. It comes living in the world and culture that we do.

The minority of homes now, I think statistically actually come from like biological two family homes. Well, what does that mean? Well, here's what it means.

You need to be intentional and not passive. The beauty of being a Christian is you have a church community that's around you. This whole book is written to be done in a cohort. I mean, we're talking about fatherhood directly, but the goal is like rely on the Christian community. If you're a mom in a half decent church, there's going to be dads with a passion for mentoring who will say, let me step in and let me help here. And a huge reason I'm committed to like trying to normalize this.

I want to normalize this in every church in America. This is like, this is how we raise our kids. This is how we raise young men.

So then she doesn't feel all the pressure on her own. The ideal scenario is like a council of dads. It's a tribe of mentors. It's a community of men. And again, with the breakdown of the social fabric, social capital is basically gone in America.

It's hiding behind our screens. Christians have a distinct advantage because you have this web of relationships you can rely on and draw into. So to me, the ideal scenario is, and I definitely relied on this. The ideal scenario is parent relationship, student ministry involvement and alignment, church vision and participation, and something on campus, ministry connected to it. And if you get those things lined up with mentors that come along that could supplement what you can't do, that's the key. So I would tell the mom, you know, do what you can.

Your son will be eternally grateful. And then bring in people for those areas you feel like you need a specialist or whatever and build a web, build a council of dads, build a tribe. And to me, that's the beauty of a local church.

So I'd say lean into that. Which is exactly what my mom did. Yeah, she did. And I didn't even know it in some ways. She went to every coach I had behind my back and said, hey, you know, Dave doesn't have a father.

Would you be that man in his life? Oh, that's amazing. And I looked back. That makes me want to weep. That's a loving moment. I had no idea. And she was intentional that way, intentional mother. And then she also was the mom that said, oh, you want a guitar? Yeah, go mow some yards and shovel some driveways and you'll get one. It was no hovering.

There was no helicopter. It was like, you got to become a man. And this is what men do.

So, I mean, honestly, it was powerful. I'm thinking of Bill at our church, who's a dad that has all of his kids are grown. But he works with middle school boys. And then he stays with them like these six boys all the way through high school and graduation.

Oh, I love that. And he is on these jobs because he works for a motor company. And yet he has these side jobs of like redoing homes and renovations. And he always has one of those boys with him teaching them to become men. That's amazing.

Yeah. Yeah, Bill Butler. Shout out to Bill because he parented his own kids.

But he's a dad to so many. And I think in some ways God called us as men. I know me as a mentor now, God's calling me to do that further. This is a transformational principle for men. Men often struggle with comparison. So they're always looking up and feeling inferior, looking around and feeling competitive. And I'm like, look down and raise up because to those people below you, you are the person that they want to be like.

And so when you deploy your energy down to raise up, I think it's such a joy. As fathers, it's not intuitive for us sometimes to bring our kids alongside of us as we're doing life day in and day out. But as Dave and Ann Wilson have been talking with Jon Tyson about being an intentional father, it helps us to see that doing life alongside of your kids or rather your kids doing life alongside you is probably one of the best ways to invest in them and be intentional with them to make sure that they don't carry the same kind of wounds that we have from when we were kids. Jon Tyson has written a book called The Intentional Father. And if you head over to and make a donation of any amount, we are going to send you a copy of his book as a thank you for being a part of aiding the ministry of family life today. Again, you can go to our website, request your copy there, or you can give us a call and make a donation at 1-800-358-6329.

That's 1-800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Now if what Jon Tyson has been talking about today has been encouraging for you and helpful for you or your family, we'd love for you to share today's podcast with a family member or friend. And while you're there, it would be really great if you would scroll down and rate and review us. Now tomorrow we're going to be back again with Jon Tyson, and he's going to be talking about what it means to be wise with your time and your energy with your kids about how significant it can be when we're taking time for our children. That's coming up tomorrow. We hope you can join us again. On behalf of David Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-21 09:55:19 / 2023-05-21 10:07:16 / 12

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