Manhood is taking care of your family and being able to bless other people. Not yourself – but whether you can bless other people.
It’s 1:52 am.
I can’t sleep.
Tossing and turning, the weight of my thoughts have made it hard to breathe.
…and impossible to sleep.
I only have one thing on my mind.
Rent is due today.
I can’t pay it.
So I wander the house, looking in on my little ones, fighting back the feeling that I’ve let them all down.
It’s not from a lack of effort.
From the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep, six days a week, I labor to provide for my family.
It just hasn’t been enough.
So here I am, in the middle of the night…wondering what I’m going to do.
Thinking about family.
…and what they mean to me.
Family Is Why I Started This Blog
So what is it?
What is the definition of a family?Click To Tweet
What has motived these efforts to write and share this passion of my life?
In several of my books, I’ve used the term “traditional” family.
When I think of a family, this is what comes to my mind first.
This is specifically defined as having a father and mother and their offspring.
It meant that father was the ‘head’ of the household.
That mother was the ‘heart’ of the home.
It also meant that children were not considered equal to their parents in authority.
Children were expected (and required) to be both respectful and obedient to their parents until they left home to live lives of their own.
Friends of mine, specifically psychologists and mental health professionals have told me, “Don’t say that, Jaime, you’ll offend people!”
It’s darn near impossible in this world NOT to offend people anymore, though.
Whether someone gets upset or not doesn’t change that this is my personal definition (not a ‘fact’) and how I chose to live my life.
You don’t have to agree with me.
I’m not asking you to.
It should also be stated that I met a wonderful, kind, loving woman who shared those same views and chose to marry me more than a quarter of a century ago.
(Dang, I’m getting old…)
I was 100% up front about who I was and what I believed before we were joined as husband and wife.
She chose me anyway…and together we have built this lovely family together.
Does that make her wrong also?
My parents lived that way.
My grandparents lived that way.
In fact, as far back as you can go, evidence tells me that both my ancestors AND your ancestors lived that way more than not.
But before some of you go off on a tangent or get your panties in a bunch, there’s more to this definition you might want to understand.
…and again, please keep in mind this is MY definition and mine alone.
Fathers should lead, not drive their families.
Fathers should be the rock a family can rely on.Click To Tweet
Fathers should also be humble, loving, patient and set the tone in the home through his example of kindness.
Fathers should love, adore, respect and encourage their wives as individuals, and who have their own hopes, dreams, and aspirations.
As a wise man once said, “The duty of a husband and father is to kill the snakes and beat down the path, so the feet of angels may walk unhindered and unafraid.”
The unknown author was referring to his wife and children.
I agree with him completely.
Mother is the queen of the home and family.
Mother is the grace, compassion, beauty, mercy and the hope.Click To Tweet
She is also the wisdom to her husband, being his great counselor, providing perspectives and views he cannot gain alone.
In short, Mother is the beat of Father’s heart.
Mother and Father are ‘companions’…and should be ‘one flesh’, meaning there are no “second-class citizens” here.
She does not walk in front of him, nor behind him, but side by side, fulfilling the roles people play in the whole of the family.
Children also receive love, are cherished, protected and provided for, but they are not equals in authority or decision making power.
Children are ‘reared’ or taught over time to become responsible, accountable and productive adults, so they can live happy & healthy lives of their own.
This is the example that was set for me.
…and I love and adore my wife with all my heart, because that was how my Father loved my Mother.
There’s More Than One Kind of Family
For some readers, my personal definition of family will make sense.
For others, and unfortunately, this may be the majority of my audience, it’ll hurt, confuse, discourage or outright offend.
…but I’m not done.
You’ll agree with me in the end, I promise.
When a good friend of mine, Jon Filitti (a licensed mental health counselor and founder of The MINDSOAK Project) saw the term ‘traditional family’ used in 12 Fun Strategies to Build Strong Family Relationships, he gave me one of the best wake up calls I’ve had in a while.
Jon is a great man.
He’s kind, smart, ever so patient and we both have a passion for helping families.
Best of all, he’s always blunt and honest with me, which is one of the main reasons I respect him so much.
“Take it out, Jaime.”
“Take out what?”
“The term ‘traditional’.”
“Don’t you want to help every family?”
“Of course I do”
“Then take out the word traditional, because most families aren’t traditional in today’s society.”
…and that’s when it hit me.
Every media story I’d heard in the last year flooded my mind…
Every argument I’ve witnessed…
Every hurt feeling I’ve witnessed or caused…
…and I thought:
Are we so fixated on definitions and political correctness that we miss the whole point?
Are we so fixated on the negatives of someone else’s perspectives that we miss the positives of a common ground?
Are we so determined to BE right...that we miss what IS right?Click To Tweet
I believe the answer to all those troubling questions is ‘yes.’
It wasn’t that I didn’t agree with Jon.
I did agree with Jon.
The truth was, my desire to have my personal definition heard and accepted was stronger than my ability to hear the truth, even though I’ve known it the whole of my life:
There are many kinds of families.
None of them are ‘wrong’.
My REAL Definition of ‘Family’
Still can’t sleep.
Still don’t have a clue about how I’m going to cover rent today.
But you know what?
Discovering a truth feeds the soul.
It uplifts the heart.
…and defining family has reminded me why I do what I do.
Why I am who I am.
Because I know what Family truly is:
Family is a group of individuals who love and care about and for one another more than self.
Not all of us have both a mother and father in our lives.
Does that make my family less than yours?
Just because Kathilynn and I chose and strive to live a ‘traditional’ family life, does that make us better than your family?
I have friends—men and women—that I’m closer to than my own blood.
To me, they are family.
There are men and women who get up every day, put on a uniform and sacrifice their all for their city, county, state, and country.
They are family.
There are households who have every variation of mothers, fathers (or lack thereof), aunts, uncles, grandparents…all trying to raise children to the best of their ability, using all the love they possess.
These are families.
There are those who have been forgotten or cast off, who live among others for the sake of sheer survival, watching over and protecting one another through adverse conditions you and I might not understand.
These are families.
They are all real.
They are all valid.
…and to me, they are worth fighting for.
All of them, no matter who you are or how you define it yourself.
Best of all, this reminds me I’m not alone.
Because of family, I don’t have to fear the challenges of life.
Yes, I may be ‘broke’, but I’ve always been wealthy.Click To Tweet
This family has endured much.
But that’s what our families allow us to do.
Endure. Grow. Prosper.
Remember That Your Family Is Unique & Exceptional
This was never a judgment of you.
It was never a judgment of your family.
I hope you realize this now.
Just because I choose to live my life one way, doesn’t mean I don’t like, love, respect and support others in their choices with all my heart.
That’s why I write, blog, create and engage with you.
Because you are remarkable, unique and exceptional.