I have been thinking about some of the aspects of the whole “good husband/good father” thing recently. It seems like some guys cover more bases than others. Just wanted to point out some areas we need to look at.
Paying the bills, changing the oil, going the ball games or recitals… All good stuff to do. All part of being the solid family man. But there’s a whole lot more we need to consider if we really want to make sure we are protecting and providing for them, to the best of our abilities.
Brace yourself for this one.
This is not my normal rabbit trail here. I am about to open up some of the subjects that have provoked me over the last year or so. Everything from guns to war, to survival, prepping and investing. Watch for links to other articles and resources that go deeper or introduce you to things we use.
The first area you need to consider, as protectors and providers, is the relationship. The part where you are completely engaged with this marriage and family. Do they know you love them? Do they trust you? Do they believe that you are a good man who places their needs above your own?
Even though those are foundational aspects, getting there requires establishing yourself as the father and husband. Your wife has to know that she is the most important person in your life. Your kids have to see you care for them and know that they matter.
I once knew a man would have been considered a great provider. The bills were always paid. They had a nice home. They never missed a meal. But, he rarely came home and his family barely knew him. Money is only one aspect of being a provider, the only one he thought mattered.
It’s a critical part, but there’s a whole lot more to being a good husband and father than holding a job and bringing home the bacon.
I recently read about one of the worst effects of the Great Depression. In one unanimous gasp, most men in our country took on a personal depression of their own, because they were suddenly ineffective as providers. To be in that position is emasculating and agonizing.
My own career is littered with personal depressions. Lost jobs, family problems, bad decisions, failed businesses… The list goes on for a painfully long time. But, at the same time, that career is also littered with a multitude of job skills. I took whatever work was available. Some paid well, some didn’t. Some had long-term potential, some were just to fill in a gap.
We still weren’t always able to pay the bills. We have been on food stamps, forced to move into places we didn’t really want to be, begged and borrowed money, sold off things that we hated to part with. But we survived.
Things are better for us, but since life moves in seasons, we know that good times can turn bad just as fast as bad times can turn good. So. Another aspect of providing and protecting your family involves planning and preparation.
We are in severely unsure times right now. The US dollar is strong, but there are a whole lot of analysts predicting a financial crash within the next five years. What are you doing to prepare for a catastrophe? Have you learned to save and invest?
There is also a looming threat of another world war. There’s no telling what kind of effect that might have. (Use your brain when reading some of the predictions and arguments online. There are plenty of logical points to balance out the irrational ones.)
I am not about to declare any great prophesies or become a doomsayers, but I am rational enough to consider my position and responsibility for my family. Protecting them requires taking an honest assessment of possible scenarios that shouldn’t be ignored.
Almost everyone has dealt with some type of disaster. Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, gas shortages, blizzards, even wars… Something has interrupted your life and made you wish you were better prepared.
Well, while things are good, maybe you don’t need that brand new car or another tv. Maybe you need to set aside something to cover your family for the next crisis that is waiting in the wings.
Savings is critical. It took a long time to learn to set money aside during the lean months. Eventually, it leveled off, once we had something to fall back on.
Also, a few dollars in cash set aside every week, will help if the power is down and that ATM card doesn’t work. For the threat of a longer problem with cash – like the possibility of a crash – silver and gold might be the only stable currency. Silver is cheap right now. A crash would turn it into a strong investment quickly. I believe it is a good idea to stash some cash and precious metals in a safe place.
Some folks are turning to Bitcoin as a possible safeguard against a financial crash. We bought in, but cautiously. Not putting all the eggs in one basket. Do your homework before jumping on that bandwagon. I think it has tremendous potential, but do your research before taking a gamble with currency that can go away with a delete button.
Life insurance is something else too many guys skip over. Part of that whole mentality where we think we are indestructible. In reality, we aren’t. I have tremendous peace knowing that my family can live for a very long time on my insurance policy if anything took me away from them.
How many times have you seen a grocery store wiped out when the snow or storms are on the way? Some disasters give warning, some don’t.
Even having cash available might not help when the unexpected shows up. My suggestion is to quit poking fun at the preppers on tv and maybe learn a few things from them. It isn’t that much effort to stash a few extra cans of food each time you go to the store.
Don’t get too bogged down with all the extreme survival stuff. Just do something to make sure your family isn’t hungry if you ever face an event like that. Store what you eat and eat what you store. If you don’t eat beans, don’t stash beans. If you eat tons of beans, stash tons of beans. Simple. There’s plenty of great advice with a quick search.
Power goes out, heat goes off, water stops flowing, or… God forbid, the toilet paper runs out. You may not need a warehouse full of stock, but enough to keep the family covered for a few days or weeks is a great start.
Think about what you buy every month and make a list of things you would prefer to never run out of. Don’t leave out stuff like dog food or baby formula when you start the stash. Add to those supplies things to cover the family if the electricity or water goes away. Candles, camp stoves, stored water jugs, can openers, toilet paper, soap, flashlights and lanterns.
Farming, gardening, solar and all the off-grid mentality may prove to be better for the planet and your family than most folks want to admit. Some of those stories from the Great Depression revolve around the ones who survived only because they were self-sufficient.
It doesn’t take much to start. Flower pots in the house can produce food as easy as flowers. A small garden plot doesn’t take much more effort than a manicured lawn.
Your personal health
Dying young or being in miserable physical shape is not helping you as a husband or father. That extra 50 pounds might keep you from starving quickly, but it won’t help you protect your family in a desperate situation. It will also cause problems if the situation requires carrying kids or supplies any distance. Or worse, having to defend them.
Which leads me to the one that will probably cause big arguments… Weapons.
Face reality. In the event of a major financial crash, extended natural disaster or armed conflict, we probably aren’t going to be facing a zombie apocalypse. We will be facing looters, thugs, and even hungry neighbors that might be more interested in your Snickers bar than your life.
Some folks refuse to consider owning a gun, some wouldn’t consider being without one. In any of those situations I just mentioned, people will turn on each other. Hunger and desperation don’t generally bring out the best in everyone. Most humans make pretty poor decisions when they are scared, hungry or desperate.
Your solution might not be guns. It might be something as simple as a baseball bat that is easily accessible. Maybe a can of Mace near the door or on your keychain. Martial arts training or something that will enable you to boost your own confidence as a protector.
Before the comments start piling up, let me clear the air. Yes, as believers, we should pray and trust God. No argument there. But, I would be pretty sure that the Christians who are struggling against Isis right now have already done that, too. Regardless of what your theology says about these situations, you need to consider how you will face those challenges when your family looks to you for help.
I have every intention of protecting my own family. Breaking into my house or hurting my family would be on the list of really bad ideas.
Make your own call. Choose your own level of commitment. Make a decision. Make an effort. Don’t just bury your head in the sand and hope it all works out. Our families deserve better than that.
Feel free to offer up more comments and suggestions.
M. Erik Matlock is a self-professed recovering knucklehead with more than 500 articles and four books in print. He shares his hard-earned wisdom at ErikMatlock.com, ProSoundWeb.com and through his books, which are available at Amazon.
Image proudly stolen from The Art of Manliness.