Fathers... Open Mouth... Insert Foot Here
Okay, I know that men are widely criticized as being verbally challenged when compared with our female counterparts. We’re constantly being reminded by women, that females speak like a zillion words a day and we use 500 to make our point. That ladies are more capable of communicating with people in general and that men are emotionally unable to express their feelings and all that.
It’s all fun and games until one day you start to realize... maybe those are not just stereotypes against the masculine gender, what if what they say about us is actually true?
It may well be...
You would think I might know better, I work in the Christian ministry and media world every day. I have four women in my life. My wife, my mom and two high school daughters all contributing to my emotional growth and well-being every day
Like most dads, I live in a world with women around me everywhere, all feeling their extra powerful life emotions and sharing them freely with me. Emotions on overdrive, like anger, frustration, irritation, despair, bad hair, etc... you would think I might have grown a bit more sensitive to their plight and upped my game a bit. You know, try a bit harder to expand my vocabulary, slow down my “solve every problem” reflex that seems so logical to me.
Doesn’t seem I’m gaining much on that to date and it’s clear I am still a work in progress when it comes to understanding and appreciating the complex emotions and issues the women in my life have.
Solution, listen a bit more, solve problems in my mind a bit less, and speak with my mouth not at all. I know that’s not exactly expanding my vocabulary, but it does reduce my frequency of inserting my foot in my mouth when talking. It’s crazy how much we can be misunderstood ( we = men/dads/husbands) by those we are so close to. Seriously, give us a chance to reformulate our thoughts a bit before you judge us as being simpletons, or “Dolts”.
Example #1 ...daughter is sharing something important with me this morning before school, I am half listening, but tired from a church event the night before, I respond with my typical blunt–simple reaction to how we can’t help everyone, etc... when I realize with my dented frontal lobe, that she’s talking about her friend, and how it’s a genuine concern and I’m eight steps behind her and a mile off base. So my comment/solution is now an offense rather than a simple verbal comment. See, we are verbally challenged. I rushed after her to explain how sorry I am for being stupid. Not sure she even heard me. So it goes, as I take my verbal foot and I slowly inch it up and into my proverbial mouth.
Example #2 ...my other daughter is not feeling well, she asks me to pray for her, I respond by encouraging her to eat more during her day at school, knowing she gets low blood sugar. Reminding her that when she’s anxious she often won’t eat, and reinforcing to her how important it is to have a good high protein diet. Arrrgh. She just wanted me to pray for her and I’m dispensing advice, and solutions, even putting additional pressure on her already over-pressurized day. So, once again I’ve inserted foot into mouth... and repeat.
Conclusion: Although men don’t talk enough, or tune in emotionally with any consistency, we have a larger issue to solve. That of learning to Listen well.
Ladies, if no one has told you yet... As dudes, we are flawed, slow-moving, sloth-like, emotionally-backwards creatures, but we love you. Please be patient. We’re doing our darndest to figure it out. As we move with the sensitivity of a sledgehammer through our days, remember we have no real idea of what we’re doing wrong.
Daughters, forgive me/us dads as we stumble along through life desperate to get it right and not fail you. I can’t seem to find the parent manual my parents hid from me when I got married... if you find it, please send to my email inbox ASAP!
Wives, Daughters and Moms, Please help us men pull our feet back out of our mouths and give us the grace to have a sec to unravel the last mentally obtuse comment we just inadvertently made to you. Chances are high, we just got our words jumbled in the process of trying to tell you we LOVE YOU.
Men, we will have to take the humility road here if we want to gain the trust, love and respect of our daughters, wives and moms. When you're wrong, you're wrong. Take it like a man and own it. It will be O.K. I Promise.
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