It was one of those moments when I thought I might have crossed the line from “Responsible father” to “What was I thinking?”
It was Chandler’s first day skiing the real slopes. No more bunny hill. No more magic carpet. It was time for the real thing. Not only was it Chandler’s first day, but it was mine as well. I hadn’t skied since high school and never more than two or three times in the past. So for all intents and purposes, I was a beginner too.
When our half-day sky lessons were over, this choice was before me: let my six-year-old son take the risk of skiing down a giant mountain, or be that over bearing dad who said, “Let’s do this when your older.”
I chose to let him take on the mountain.
To be honest, I was scared to death. Scared that I wouldn’t make it down. Scared that Chandler wouldn’t make it down. Scared we would fall off the ski lift. Scared that my next ride would be in an ambulance. Scared that something would happen to my four-foot-tall best friend.
My mother-in-law (who I affectionately call my “Bonus Mom”) came along at just the right time and encouraged us to go. She said, “You got this… go for it!” Being the avid skier that she is, I took her advice (and welcomed her company).
What happened next is an event I will never forget. My little six-year-old son came down the mountain—never zig-zagging or slowing. He went straight down at warp speed, and I was laughing and fearlessly trying to catch up with him.
Imagine if I would have said, “Let’s wait…” We wouldn’t have had that memory of our first green hill together. I wouldn’t have laughed that hard. He wouldn’t have had the stories to tell of that run or the two more that followed. If I hadn’t taken my bonus mom’s words of confidence, even when I lacked it, we would not have had any lasting memories to recall.
Parenting a boy means I have to be willing to take risks. We don’t need prettier boys; we need mightier men. While I don’t want my kid’s last words to be, “Hey, Watch this!” I do want my son to be daring. I want him to do things that push him to be strong, bold and courageous.
Sadly, our culture—and the culture within the Christian church—is more about making well-manicured, polite gentlemen than strong, fearless men. The world don’t know what to do with men who speak boldly as if something is at stake (because it is). We suppress strong leaders and exalt those who live within the lines. While I do believe we must be gentlemen, we don’t always have to be gentle to be a man. Taking a risk as a man, or a son, or as a father are just part of life—especially the Christian life.