Fathers play a crucial role in their young sons’ perception of what it means to be a man.
The father is the first man that a young boy is ever going to look up to. The father teaches his sons what it means to be a man, how to dress like a man, how a man acts and behaves around women and other men, right down to the nitty-gritty of what a man eats and drinks.
Any father with young sons (sons of any age, really) is constantly going to be the example of manhood that the son refers to, time and time again. The father sets the masculine precedent for what it means to be a man, and the son is going to base his entire reality of masculinity and manhood off of the image of a man that the father embodies.
To convey how powerful this principle is, I’m going to tell you a story.
Ever since I was a young, tiny child, I noticed that Mom always drank coffee in the morning. Without fail, I’d see her in the living room, reading her Bible and drinking a cup of coffee.
And as mothers do with their small children, whenever I’d ask to have some, or if I could try her coffee, she’d never let me. Or, if I ever did, it was on a rare occasion. Truth be told, I didn’t like the coffee that much, anyway.
But I didn’t mind, because I knew, from a very young age, that real men don’t drink coffee.
Dad Didn’t Drink Coffee
When Mom would enjoy her cup of coffee, Dad would be in the kitchen preparing a glass of iced, sweet tea. Throughout the entire day, no less, Dad would be drinking his sweet tea. I preferred the sweet tea, because Dad, unlike Mom, would let me drink his tea.
It was funny because Dad drank his tea, and Mom drank her coffee, and never once did I see them try the other’s drink. Ever since I was a young child, this established a precedent in my mind.
I realized something (that only my young mind could). Real men don’t drink coffee. I figured it was a woman’s drink, and that sweet tea was a man’s drink. That explains why I never saw Dad drink coffee, and why I never saw Mom drink tea. (Well, Mom liked hot tea, but not Dad’s sweet-tea. So I knew men and women could drink tea, but men should not drink coffee.)
The fact that Mom wouldn’t let me have coffee (more often than not) reinforced this for me. Clearly, mom won’t let me drink the coffee because she knows it is a drink for women, and that it is best I don’t drink it, lest someone thinks I’d rather be a woman!
Just a Sip Here and There.
Though in my young mind, I had established that men shouldn’t drink coffee, I was curious to try it when Mom would let me. Time and time again, her coffee was too bitter or too hot. But Dad’s tea, it was always iced, and it was always sweet. There was never a wrong time to drink the tea like there was a wrong time to drink the coffee. That explains why Dad drank it all the time.
Though, as I got older and started spending more time out of the house, out and about, and with friends, I started to notice something odd.
Other men would drink coffee. I never thought much of it. I merely dismissed it and thought, “My dad is better than your dad because he doesn’t drink coffee.” It was almost something to be proud of that Dad didn’t drink coffee. In fact, Dad didn’t just not drink coffee. He downright hated coffee. He didn’t even like the smell of the coffee beans.
But every once and a while, I’d take sips of Mom’s coffee. Sometimes it was because I asked, other times it was because it was offered to me, and I didn’t want to disappoint Mom, so I’d try her drink.
Sweet tea, time, and time again was my drink of choice. I wanted to be a man, after all. Sweet tea had to be my drink of choice.
Admittedly, this was never something I asked my parents about. I never asked Dad why men don’t drink coffee; I never asked Mom why women don’t like sweet tea. Whenever I witnessed the crossover in public, I quietly dismissed it in my head as the wrong thing to do.
But that was when I was little. As I grew older and became more aware that other men, who were very clearly masculine and manly, would drink coffee, I started to realize that perhaps this unspoken precedent was wrong.
Why Didn’t Dad Like Coffee?
It wasn’t until sometime last year I finally found out why Dad disliked coffee so strongly. All those years growing up, the lack of reason made me assume it was because men don’t drink coffee. While my father is certainly a masculine man, who taught me damn near everything I know, it just so happens that he doesn’t like coffee.
It has nothing to do with whether drinking coffee makes a man more manly or not.
One day, Dad started telling the story of why he stopped drinking coffee.
He started by telling us that he would take sips of his parents’ coffee when he was young, then began making his own as he got a little older.
That overruled my assumption that Grandpa didn’t like coffee.
Unbeknownst to me, Dad had a short history as a coffee drinker! But the reason he stopped drinking coffee is both silly yet plausible. He said, “Smelling my parent’s coffee breath every time I’d kiss them goodbye before I went to school made me hate the smell of coffee so much that I had to stop drinking it.”
And to this day, I’ve never seen; Dad drink his own cup of coffee. Sure, here and there we’d convince him to try some, but it was always met with his inevitable displeasure with the drink’s taste.
Your Sons Are Watching You.
I never asked Mom or Dad about their beverages of choice. Their behavior was consistent enough that I just assumed that was the way it was supposed to be. And I was young enough, and I spent enough time with my parents in the home, that I had no reason to question this unspoken precedent.
The larger point is this: If I assumed that real men don’t drink coffee simply because my dad never drank coffee, then the simple things you do (or aren’t doing, in this case) are being watched and observed. There are things your sons will observe you do, whether you want them to or not, that are going to stick with them for the rest of their lives.
As men, we are called to lead by example. This is especially important when little eyes are watching. They may not ask questions; they may just watch. They may not listen to your explanation of reasoning; they may just accept what they’ve witnessed for years. Obviously, if they are outright wrong in the precedents they have observed, correct them.
But more than anything, your fathers have an important role to play in the lives of both your sons and daughters. Your sons are going to look up to you as the pinnacle of masculinity. When they think of what a real man looks like, you are going to be the image that pops into their head.
Do not fear the magnitude of this responsibility. You cannot perfectly lead by example for your young children to follow. So, if they pick up on some bad habits, they will likely learn it from you or from their mother. Keep in mind; you are setting the very laws that will govern their perception of a strong man for a very long time.
It is an honor.
So, next time you drink your coffee (or your sweet tea), remember who’s watching. It might be much more significant to the young onlooker than you’d ever realize.
David F.A. | Arsenal Headmaster
About the Author: David spent damn near nine years of his life addicted to porn. After finding freedom from the crippling effects it had on his life, he set out to provide a way out for every man. Whether you watch porn once a week, or more than three times a day, you need to quit. Your best life begins when you quit. That’s when David’s best life began. Join him and pick up his ebook Quit Porn in 10 Steps
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