June 25, 2010

Honoring Community Fathers

Lowell Johnson is one of the collection of very good men and women I worked with to envision the Lakes Area Guys Network or LAGN. Simply put, LAGN is a guy's activity organization. It's a perfect vehicle for men who have interest or skills to share with young males in their community. For the young dudes, LAGN provides great adventures and activities, along with time for hanging out with older males. With LAGN, everyone wins, the boys, men, and especially the community.

Because we're still in the season of Father's Day, I thought it made sense to share the article, Honoring Community Fathers, which Lowell submitted to the newspaper in his community, the Brainerd Daily Dispatch. I love the language of "Communtiy Fathers," and the notion that boys really do need a wide variety men in their lives.

Honoring Community Fathers

Who is your father? When most people hear this question, they answer with the name of their biological father, or sometimes their step-dad. I contend that as important as primary fathers are in a child’s life, there are many unnamed men who are also important to the healthy development of children in our community. I call these men the community fathers.

What is a community father? Community fathers are all the men who show up for children in the variety of activities that kids participate in as they grow up. Some of these activities are organized, but others are spontaneous or informal, such as playing ball with neighborhood kids or taking a child fishing. Young males especially, are constantly learning and during these activities children watch how men interact with other people. They use this information to learn what it means to be a man, and hopefully a respectful human being.

Who are the community fathers? In one sense all men are community fathers since children watch all of us. This implies that men may want to consider their public behavior because of what they are constantly modeling for kids. However, this does not mean that men need to be perfect individuals, because none of us are perfect. We only need to be ourselves, and try at all times to show respect for others.

Generative fathers: Some men are very intentional about their community fathering, and it is these men who I would like to specially honor this Fathers Day. These are the men who researchers label as generative fathers. Generative fathers are men whose own personal development has brought them to the point where they want to “give back” to their community. Generative fathers have learned they personally benefit from showing up for the children of the community.

These are many organized groups where you can see community fathers in action; Lakes Area Guys Network, Kinship Partners, all sports coaches, 4H, church activities, Timber Bay, Scouting, PTO/PTA activities, and a wide range of community service organizations. Men who are ready to give back to our community can contact any of these groups to volunteer their time. Our children and our community need your help.

Lowell Johnson is a member of the Brainerd Lakes Area Early Childhood Coalition and a founding member of the Lakes Area Guys Network. You can contact him at this email address.

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1 comment:

  1. I like the term "Generative" fathers. It fits so many men who spend time with boys in all those groups you mentioned. Thanks, Earl.



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