Valuing marriages, relationships, parenting, and demonstrating that
Being a responsible man, husband, father, community member, who knows how to demonstrate the most important values:
This article is a followup to the newsworthy reports on New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy who has been getting criticized by sports radio men for missing a game due to the birth of his child. Murphy got word late on Sunday night that his wife was in labor, and rushed to Florida to be with her. He was there for the birth of their first child the next day, Monday, which also happened to be Opening Day. The Mets had Tuesday off, and Murphy decided to stay with his wife Wednesday. Murphy told ESPN that he and his wife decided together that it would be best for him to stay the extra day. "Having me there helped a lot, and vice versa, to take some of the load off," he said. "It felt, for us, like the right decision to make."
For a number of sports commentators, however, Murphy's decision seemed ludicrous. A New York-based radio host kicked off the outrage, devoting his entire show to asking, exasperatedly, why on earth a man would need to take off more than the few hours during which his child is actually born. "For a baseball player, you take a day. All right, back in the lineup the next day. What are you doing? What would you be doing? I guarantee you're not sitting there holding you're wife's hand." "You can hire a nurse to take care of the baby if your wife needs help…Are you gonna sit there and look at your wife in the hospital bed for two days?"
"What do you do? You work the next day, then you take off three months, to do what? Have a party? 'The baby was born…But I took maternity leave three months later.' For what? To take pictures? I mean, what would you possibly be doing? That makes no sense. I didn't even know there was such a thing."
Another host said, "To me, and this is just my sensibility: 24 hours, You stay there, baby's good, you have a good support system for the mom and the baby. You get your ass back to your team and you play baseball."
Another host thought even 24 hours was too much time: “Quite frankly, I would've said, 'C-section before the season starts. I need to be at Opening Day.”
This country needs to start valuing marriage, relationships, and parenting. Men especially need to work on this. There is a realization that many men are mentally ill, and that it is men who go on shooting sprees and kill people with guns. Gun enthusiasts like to point out that it is the men, not guns, that do this. Some men will say that we need to work on mental illness, etc., but then do nothing to make this happen. If it means taking any of their money or their time to work on mental illness in this country, then forget it. It is someone else’s problem. Any major, widespread problem in this country is OUR problem, not someone else’s problem.
There are ways to prevent much mental illness, including mentally ill men who are angry, violent, feeling isolated, unloved, are rudderless, have no effective life skills, and then become psychopaths. This country does not talk much about prevention. We like to wait until things get bad before we act. Needless to say, this is much less effective, and very expensive. Prevention is much more effective, cheaper, and much more humane. So how do we prevent a lot of mental illness: men who grow up angry, violent, feeling isolated, unloved, are rudderless, have no effective life skills, and then become psychopaths? We value and focus on quality marriages and quality parenting. This parenting includes quality FATHERING.
Quality parenting and a quality parenting partnership begins with the birth of your child. Lots of studies have been done showing the importance of these beginning days, months, and year. This is when bonding occurs. I will not expound on bonding studies, except to say that bonding with your child, and your child bonding with you, both of you, is extremely important. It is when you connect with your heart and soul. It is when you learn how to feel, feelings so profound they are hard to explain. It is when you hold each other, TOUCH, establish eye contact and heart contact. It is when you learn to give and take like you have never done before. It is when 3 people become a we, when a man and woman become real partners , about to do something very important for 18 years, and when their marriage takes on new meaning and value; Or not. It is when a woman can figure out if she married to a man who has very little heart and soul, the wrong values, is capable of love and feeling loved; and if he really has depth and real life skills, relationship skills. The men described above do not have the right values, and I would guess, are poor in relationships, and not great fathers, if they are fathers. They don’t have a clue regarding living life successfully in love, relationships and parenting.
The first year of life of a child is when we learn our parenting style, our relationship style, our emotional stability and depth, our ability to feel and love, our ability to give, to compromise, to be inconvenienced, to focus on other’s needs, to practice stress management, and to move out of our comfort zone…and to examine our attitudes, beliefs and how our parents parented vs how we want to parent: father.
Read previous articles regarding what effective fathering and partnering looks like. Being a detached faher/partner does not work. I had an uncle who was a major league baseball player/coach. He was married and had 3 sons. All I saw was 3 rudderless boys, with a father who was “never there”. They ended up as total flops in life and living: mentally, emotionally ill, with zero life skills. Their mother went to a lot of games and left the kids with babysitters. The father, even when he was home, was “not there”. He was not there emotionally, mentally, actively for his boys. The only thing he knew how to do was be with men, play baseball, drink beer, and spit tobacco. For him, women were for sex, looking at, companionship, and to take care of his house and kids. He couldn’t be bothered by “fathering”. He had the same attitudes as the sports hosts listed above.
Then there are athletes like Drew Brees. This seems to be a man, husband, father who truly has the “right” values, knows how to father, be a husband, and show responsibility; is emotionally, mentally healthy, balanced. When we are emotionally, mentally healthy, we are able to juggle, and live life effectively, including living our relationships in a quality way. This is a man who has heart and soul and feelings, and is not ashamed to show it. He does not go around trying to show he is a man. He is a quality man.
Even though he is away a lot during season, when he is home he knows how to do that in a quality, devoted way. He, I’m sure, is shaking his head at the idiots listed above. He is also a man who loves his community, gives back, and feels a duty to give back due to his blessings. He lives in gratitude and love.
Linda, in previous articles, also had a husband who did these unloving, uncaring things, as listed above. When their daughter was born, her husband said ,”well, you are fine, she is fine, I am going to go to the football game.” So within hours of the birth, he went to the game. Linda was in disbelief, feeling sad, and abandoned. He also said that he could go because she and the baby would be sleeping. This man had no depth, sentimentality, and really was unable to feel real love and awe in living. He only felt deeply when watching sports and having sex. Feeling and thinking with his heart and soul was not part of him. And so, this day, this act of his, became symbolic for how he developed his relationship with his daughter, and with his wife over the years. It was a surface relationship, with no depth. He did things when asked to, but never volunteered. He never thought about his relationships; just went into automatic. This man seemed overwhelmed by life and its demands. He was able to do his “job”, at work, but anything else, like relationships and parenting, running a household and life, he punted to his wife and others. This man was born to a detached, unsentimental, negative, verbally abusive father. He did not bond with his father at birth, or after that. His father did not bond with his son at birth. The father did not bond with his wife at the birth, nor after that. She went through life parenting, basically alone, and often feeling alone and overwhelmed. Parenting does not mean just taking care of feeding, clothing, supervision, routines. It means so much more than that.
This country, and its men, need to start talking about what is really important to build people who are healthy: mentally, emotionally, physically, intellectually, responsible, and with a sense of contributing and giving back. It takes all of us; not just women, wives, mothers. The roles of father, husband, are so important. Doing this life with quality partners, fathers, mothers, is absolutely the best and most fulfilling way. We now know that poor parenting produces very unhealthy people. Good parents teach us to love, feel trust, bond with people, like ourselves, teach us values, attitudes, teach us life skills, people skills. Good parents are involved, good communicators, spend time with us, teach us not to be angry, self-discipline, how to be responsible, how to feel and care. Good parenting involves a full partner so that parenting does not overwhelm and isolate us. Sharing experiences fully with great human beings is what makes things fulfilling. No mother, wife should ever feel alone and overwhelmed.
When a child is born, we can either raise a great person, or we can punt(toss the ball to someone else). It is a time to say, “I am here for you honey and this child, and I will always be. I will learn with you, how to do this. We will do this together in a quality way; in good times and in stressful times. We will focus on our marriage also because our love is so important. We will be full partners and lovers.” Being there in the beginning is symbolic as well as necessary to bonding.
Or we can just continue to say guns don’t do it: people do. We need to start raising boys, men in a quality way. It starts with quality fathering and quality marriages. Each man can contribute in this way, or we can build a huge mental health system and jail system, and live in fear of mentally ill shooters, and blame mothers.