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Back to Center: I want my son to have strong male role models

...but they seem to be harder and harder to find

Sarah Perron, Certified Coach

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Sarah Perron, Certified Coach

Sarah Perron, Certified Coach

Sarah Perron, Certified Coach

Life Coach and Writer

Offering perspectives for personal realignment and empowerment.

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October 02, 2022

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06:31 AM

Back to Center: I want my son to have strong male role models

The purpose of the “Back to Center” advice column is to provide perspectives for personal realignment and empowered living in the COVID era. Sarah encourages you to reach out to her with requests for advice about self-development and emotional and mental well-being in these complicated times. Please send your questions to advice@aflds.org. Anonymous and secure. Looking forward to hearing from you!

For all other inquiries, please direct your questions to info@aflds.org.

When I look at America and think about where the country seems to be headed, I feel a strong tension within me. On the one hand, I feel a pull to get more involved in speaking out publicly against the tyranny we see all around us, to see what I can do on a larger scale to help fight injustice. 

But on the other hand, I worry about my family. I’m a devoted husband to my wife and father of four children. I see what’s been happening to some of our freedom fighters in this country – they’ve been attacked, they’ve gone to jail, their rights have been taken away. If I got involved in this fight and something happened to me, what would become of my family? 

I know I’m the only husband and father they’ve got, but I also feel I can’t stand idly by and watch the downfall of my country. I want to do what’s right, but what is the right thing to do? What should my priority be?

Wow, you are asking some very deep, important questions here! You’re not alone; I would imagine that many devoted family men throughout history who have found themselves in a time of war or tyranny have had to face these questions for themselves on some level. Do I join the fight, or do I do whatever it takes to make sure my own family is safe?

It seems to me like you’re looking for one objective, black and white, right answer to your question. I have to tell you: I’m not sure there is just one. All of the desires you describe in your message are honorable – wanting to be there for your family, to make sure they’re safe and provided for; wanting to rise up against the injustice you see in America and work to transform the country you love for the better. It’s all good. So, maybe the question is not, “What is the right thing to do?” but “What is the right thing for you to do?”

If you’re being really honest with yourself…if you lay aside all the “shoulds” and thoughts about expectations of others that might be running through your mind…what do you feel most called to do? What do you want to do? What path will make you feel most like yourself, like you’re doing something only you can do? What is it that you feel you’ve been specifically placed in this time in history, in this country, in this family to do?  

And let’s remember: The answer that’s right for you may not be black and white. There may be a middle road you could take where you could get more involved in the fight for America in a way that’s personally fulfilling without feeling like you’re putting your family at risk. There are many people out there like you who are working to make a difference, and every effort adds up and counts. The key is finding out what balance is right for you and remembering that it may look very different from that of a single person who is not responsible for anyone else. This is okay; we all have to fight the fight that we can personally commit to in an appropriate way.

If you haven’t already, you might think about talking all of this through with your wife. Tell her how you’re feeling, about the struggle within you. It’s possible that, knowing you and the family you’ve built together intimately, she may be able to offer some insights that could help clarify things for you.  

These are difficult times to navigate, but I believe your strong values will help guide you through to the path that’s personally right for you, where you can make the most difference as the person you are, in the life you’re living. All the best to you and your family!

****

I am a single mother with an 11-year-old son. My husband passed away a few years ago. I am doing my best to raise my son with traditional religious values, but as he gets older and our culture gets darker, I’m feeling increasingly worried for him. 

I want him to have strong male role models, but they seem to be harder and harder to find. I worry about the influences he might be under at school from other kids and teachers in this culture where being whoever, whatever, and whatever gender you want to be is praised and encouraged. 

How can I help my son grow into a strong young man of God with so many negative forces all around us? I don’t know how to do this alone…

Thank you for your beautiful question. What an amazing heart you have as a mother! I can tell you have such deep love for your son and want to acknowledge what a big thing you are doing by raising him on your own in a world that’s making it quite challenging to parent these days.  

I’m very sorry to hear about the loss of your husband. I can imagine the void his absence leaves in the family is profound, to say the least.

And you’re right – the negative forces at play in the world today are strong.

I first want to encourage you to try to shift your focus away from your son’s lack of a father figure and away from your fear of society’s negative impact on him to a focus on what he does have, on what can impact him positively. And what is that? You! Create a vision for the kind of mother you want to be for your son. What kind of home environment do you want to help create for him? What qualities do you have that you can put to good use in your relationship with him? What resources do you have access to that could help you give over important values to him?  

You may be feeling alone and inadequate but know that you have tremendous power to influence your son for the good. It can be so easy to focus on all the things that we wish were different, or on outside forces that seem like obstacles to getting to where we want to go. But shifting your focus to what is possible and what you can do can bring out abilities that you didn’t even know you had and create positive circumstances beyond what you thought could be.  

All best efforts considered, it’s also important to remember to let go of the need to control in parenting. Personally, as a mother, I am realizing as my kids get older just how little control I have over who they become and the choices they make. It’s hard, but true. What I’ve come to so far is that the best I can do is enthusiastically share my values with them, and then give them space to incorporate them in their own lives in their own way (which sometimes and at some stages means not at all!). So much of this experience is about creating the environment we want for our kids, giving information and guidance, and then letting go and letting them be themselves and find their own way. There’s so much you can’t control, but you can always let your son know you’re there for him no matter what, that he can come to you anytime, and that you’ll listen without judgment. That will go a long way toward helping him become a young man of integrity and values who knows he is loved.

You are what your son needs, just as you are. You can do this!

****

I was reminded recently of how long it’s been since I had a really good laugh – like the kind where your stomach hurts and you can’t breathe! 

I used to be a much more lighthearted person, but I think the heaviness of the past few years has really gotten to me. I miss having fun times where I wasn’t worried about anything. How do I get back there?  

I love your question! Thanks so much for writing in. Fun and laughter are so important to our well-being! I can understand how they might not come easily these days, but that doesn’t have to mean they’re gone from your life for good. It might be easier than you think to get some of that lightness back.  

I encourage you first to think about what fun has looked like for you in the past. What makes you light up? What gives you that carefree feeling? Who in your life do you love to have fun with? Who or what makes you laugh?  

Now, what specifically do you feel is holding you back from engaging in a lighter way of life? Do you spend a lot of time glued to worry-producing news? Are you in a financial situation that causes you to have to work more than in the past? Are you emotionally preoccupied with traumatic experiences of the past few years, with anger at others, or fear of the future?  

Once you’ve identified your main obstacles to having more fun in your life, ask yourself what you might do to lessen that obstacle’s impact. Maybe you’ll decide you want to cut back on news exposure, look for a different work situation where you might be able to earn more and work less time, or find a trusted friend or professional who can help you work through some of your difficult emotions.  

Along with making some healthy changes, I want to challenge you to add something new to your schedule. Let’s call it “Five Minutes of Fun.” Whenever you feel yourself going into a heavy place – or at least once a day – try taking five minutes to do something you enjoy or that makes you laugh. Just five minutes! Watch a silly video, call a friend who cracks you up, play a game, put on some upbeat music and dance, get down on the floor and roll around with your kids…whatever it is that brings you back up. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or time-consuming. I believe all those minutes will add up to bring you a greater sense of joy in your life, and that each time you take that small break for fun, it will help your laughter to come more easily, little by little.

Wishing you many moments of side-splitting laughter and good times!

****

I’m feeling really afraid to let anyone know anything about my beliefs these days. I mean, crazy things are happening to people who are conservative, religious, pro-life, and pro-traditional marriage in this country. 

I’m starting to get the feeling that I need to watch my back every time I leave the house, because who knows? Things are getting way out of hand, and I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t want to live in fear or pretend to be anything but who I am, but the times are really scary. What do I do with this fear?

I hear you. It’s so hard to grasp the insanity of what’s going on. Sometimes it feels like we must be living in a movie; it can’t possibly be real life! But regardless, living in fear is no way to live. Let’s dive into your question.

The thing about fear is that the more you focus on it, on what might happen, the more you create a negative energy that almost invites bad things to happen to you. You’re more likely to have an accident, to get sick, or to run into situations that bring you trouble. Now, of course, unfortunate things can happen to anyone, even those with the most positive mindsets. But the overall mindset you choose to live with does impact the events of your life, and how you respond to the events that come your way.

So, the question is: What do you want to invite into your life? Do you want to fill your mind with worries and visions of your pro-choice neighbors shooting at you as you walk down the street, God forbid? Or do you want to live with confidence about who you are and your values, and believe that whatever comes your way, you will be able to handle it? You get to choose what you focus on, what you fill yourself with.  

Fear doesn’t exist outside of us; it’s something we create within ourselves. If we can create it, we can also make a conscious decision to not let it be our master. You might ask yourself, “What would I do if I had no fear?” And then take steps toward doing that, being that, living that.  

You can definitely make smart choices about what you share about yourself with others, and in what contexts. We don’t have to go shouting every detail about ourselves from the rooftops. But there is so much in this world that we cannot control, and to try is to end up frustrated, enslaved to fear, locked in our houses, hiding who we are. The cost of living in fear is just too high.  

We don’t know exactly where things are headed, but if citizens like you resolve to reject a life of fear and stand tall, the country will be much better off. May we all have the courage to live the kind of change we want to see!

Previous columns:

Sarah Perron photo.jpg

Sarah encourages you to reach out to her with requests for advice! Please send your questions to advice@aflds.org.  Anonymous and secure

 

 

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