Mentoring young husbands and fathers gives me the chance to hear lots of people’s stories. I love guys in their early 30’s. They’re young and energetic, yet they’ve begun to know what they don’t know. One of the biggest things they have to decide is how they will define normal for themselves and their families. Will they define normal, or will they let normal define them?
Here’s one young man’s story of how he got into drinking and ultimately into rehab . . . “I went to a party school and just did what everyone else did . . . you know, fraternity parties and stuff. It was just normal.”
Or take a guy I know who raised his kids to be normal . . . sports all the time, academic excellence, spiritual things worked in around the edges. You know . . . normal. Of his three kids, one doesn’t speak to him, one has had two children out of wedlock, and the third is suffering from anorexia. Normal.
If we embrace normal, our kids will have their first full drink of alcohol around age 14 and have sex when they’re 17. And 65% of our kids will live with their partner before getting married. It’s normal.
As men . . . husbands, fathers, and spiritual leaders, we have to wake up to the reality that normal defines us more than we’re defining it. Yes, it’s tough to restrict your kids’ freedom. Or invade the privacy of their smartphones. Yes, it’s tough to put them into another school. Or to vet their friends. Yes, it’s tough to change what they listen to and watch. Or to always know who they’re with. But it’s worth it.
I feel for guys whose kids are already engaged in normal as preteens and teens. It’s really tough to back up. It’s far better to set a vision for what’s normal before kids get to adolescence. When you tell them what they can expect before they get there, it’s easier to defend ground you’ve taken than to recapture ground you’ve given up.
Sit down with your wife, your sons, and your daughters. Talk about what you want for your kids and what they want for themselves. You’ll be amazed at how much clarity even an 8-year-old might have about what they want in life. Talk in specifics. Talk about it often.
Challenge: Don’t accept normal. Don’t. Decide with your wife what you’re going to define as normal for your family. Then do all you can to make it that way.