Unintended Side Effects
MAN UP !!! BE A MAN!!!
How many times have you heard someone urge a young man to “Be a man!” or “Man Up!”? How many times have you said that to someone? These words have been referred to by a few others before me as the most devastating words, detrimental to emotional wellbeing, that can be uttered to a growing young man.
They are meant to somehow encourage the target to be resilient or tough when faced with a challenging situation. It supposedly urges better performance, with hope for better outcomes. However, these words also encourage the target to avoid their emotions at the moment. Let’s be honest! When someone is told to “man up”, they are not expected to respond with an open display of a broad range of emotions. They are not given clearance to be expressive and certainly not permitted to cry.
Undoubtedly, this is a case in which you get what you ask for! Someone is asked to ignore his emotions and act tough and guess what...they DO! From someone who has been told “man up” at times, I can attest that the intended outcome of resilience is ultimately subordinated to the unfortunate side effect of closing off emotionally – doing exactly as I was told. I have witnessed it in others too.
As I think about this and explore my aspirations for fatherhood, I am reminded of the many situations when fathers can be locked into certain situational responses for the sake of “manning up”. What if they could be liberated from this? What if we could encourage them to press forward without telling them to leave their emotions behind? What if…? Then, this phrase popped into mind:
“DaddyUp” is about leading by example. It is about being the role model father that our children so need and deserve. “DaddyUp” says to embrace one's emotions and tolerate emotional expression in our children. “DaddyUp” tells all that our presence, not our perfection is really what matters. It says to anyone that a part of resilience is being emotionally honest. “DaddyUp embodies the courage, commitment and consistency necessary to do all of the above.
Fathering is a tough gig. Fathering after fatherlessness—no model—is not for the faint-hearted. So, next time if you want to tell someone to toughen up and face their challenges without losing themselves in the process…tell them to “DaddyUp!”