I had a conversation with a friend recently about the value of learning about what interests our kids. “If you don’t know what they’re interested in, then you’re not in a position to effectively offer them great counsel,” he said to me. “You can’t offer advice or insight in areas that you have zero knowledge in. Therefore, even if it’s something you don’t understand, it makes sense to at least explore the subject matter so that you can be a resource to your kids. At a minimum, you gain clarity on where you need to seek outside help.”
This statement really made me think. Why do we, as dads, avoid learning new things? Why do we shy away from certain subject matter or topics?
I came to a conclusion that we tend to “fear” certain things. And that thought process made me think about a concept that’s floated around in various circles — the concept of individuals needing to “study what you fear.”
If we’re completely honest, nine times out of 10 we fear something simply because we don’t understand it. For example, people who tend to fear guns are typically didn’t grow up around guns and have no level of proficiency with them. Once you become proficient in everything associated with guns, one typically doesn’t fear guns anymore. You might fear “people with guns,” but you don’t fear guns anymore. The same thing happens with individuals around water. Folks who tend to have some level of fear around water are typically individuals who don’t know how to swim or are confident in their swimming ability. But once they’ve studied the art of swimming by taking lessons and reading up on it, practiced in a safe environment and become proficient, their fear of water becomes less dominant.
It’s interesting that this is an article for dads because there’s a contingent of individuals out there who fear fatherhood. But, once you become a dad you realize that there’s really nothing to fear. It’s tough, but it’s not something that you need to be afraid of. Most of us have gotten to the place of overcoming our fear of being a father by “studying” the art of fatherhood. It might be more “on the job” studying by actively parenting and talking to other dads than reading books about it, but the reality is we studied what we feared and the fear disappeared.
As dads, we must remember we’re writing the playbook for our children to follow. Kids don’t always do what they’re told, yet they’ll have a tendency to replicate what they see us do. If we want to raise children — and later adults — who aren’t paralyzed by fear, let’s start modeling actions that teach them how to punch fear directly in the face.
So today, I challenge you. Think about something you fear and study it closely. Fear is a natural response to the unknown, therefore I’m asking you to buck natural and embrace it — embrace the study of your fears. You might have questions about it. You may find it’s not your cup of tea. But, the reality is, you won’t fear it anymore and you’ll better understand what others do. You can start this process today by taking a deeper dive into the things your kids are interested in, whether we understand them or not, whether we fear the complexity of the new technology or not, let’s at least try and make it a point to create the habit of “studying what we fear.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Dorsey, known as “Mike D” by many, is an author, business entrepreneur, community organizer, speaker and podcaster. He created and hosts the Black Fathers, NOW! podcast and founded the apparel company Black Family Apparel, which celebrates positive imagery of the black family through messaged clothing. He has author two books: Dynamic Black Fatherhood Manifesto and ABE: Always Be Engaged — The 7 Keys to Living a Fit Urban Life. He can be reached via Instagram, Facebook or email.