Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hyperconnected and still alone

The way we connect to information and to each other has been revolutionized over the last several years. This has come about thanks to the advance of mobile communication devices and social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Blogger, Periscope and on and on. 

We are socially connected more than ever before in history with our fancy devices fundamentally changing the way we communicate. The sad part is that social automation and other technologies are in many cases not bringing people together. For many, it is instead creating an inverse effect with possible “friends” in the thousands but in reality no real relationships.

I am a man. You may be one as well. As men, we are especially at risk to fall into the trap of loneliness and isolation. We are manly men and we are not expected to ever express feelings, show pain or step away from our role of responsibility leading our family from the front into the battles of life. Sure times have changed to soften much of this for many but the reality is that most of us are just hard wired to be closed emotionally and to press on no matter what we are facing.

The results can be devastating as men struggle and find unhealthy outlets for their disconnected loneliness. Emotional detachment from family, affairs, addictions to porn, and alcohol abuse are just a few of the unfortunate outcomes.

Even less talked about is suicide rates among men. Men commit suicide at a rate that is 4X higher than woman and in the US men account for 79% of all suicides. These numbers do not include unreported attempts.

As men what can we learn from all of this? I believe that we must recognize the importance of having a male confidant in our lives. A person that we can have a meaningful and still masculine relationship that allows for openness and sharing. It can be uncomfortable to have truly deep and meaningful conversations with another dude and that is why for most of us this needs to happen while also doing manly things. 

Think being in the outdoors hiking, hunting, chopping wood, building something or just plain doing manly stuff. We are not sit around a smelly candle sipping wine kind of people.

Men let me challenge you to reach out and make a change. You just might save a marriage or even save a life. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Time to let go

August was big for us as our only child left the house to begin a new life in college. This event had loomed for a long time and to be honest I was not really sure of what would be my reaction.

Excitement? Depression? Fear?

The possibilities were broad and fortunately the realities turned out to be mostly positive for us. His excitement was completely contagious and I could not help but smile on my way home thinking of him back in the dorm room with this great next big step into adulthood. He said he could not wait to ask friends over to see his “place.”

The reality is that moving on and growing up is a good thing and being human there is nothing wrong with parents experiencing all the stages of separation that is expected. You name an emotion and I have most likely felt it over these last several weeks as we prepared for the big day.

I have tried my best all these years to be the father to my son that I never experienced as a child. I tried to be there for him when he needed me. I tried to be a loving example as a husband so that he would have a model to follow in his own marriage. I tried to love God and show how to have a foundation of faith. I tried to spend time serving others to show life is not all about me. I tried to encourage him to be independent as a thinker and a person so that he could make choices establish his own beliefs. I tried to teach him about money by avoiding extravagances and keeping out of debt.

Most of all---I tried

Looking back I know there were many things in my list of perfect parenting where I failed. There are things I wish I had done more and things I has wish I had done less.

However

Now is not the time to look in the past or dwell on the should haves. Instead now is the time to look forward to the future and have confidence that we set a solid foundation that will serve him through his future failures and success.

I know his mother and I will miss him but the future of seeing the ongoing result of all these years as he discovers his own way is even more exciting to ponder.

He just better not forget that the door is always open for a return to the Copeland house and I am sure I will still slip him a twenty when mom is not looking.


Good luck son!