Is it me, or are so many children today just little shits? No respect, gratitude, manners, appreciation, or communication skills and more importantly, zero confidence. There are plenty of theories out there on why this may be happening. Many point to the increasing use of devices, video games, social media, and television but I think those are just the symptoms of the real problem. The parents or lack thereof are who is actually responsible for why kids are acting out today. No, I’m not talking about single parent families, I’m talking more specifically about those that have a mother and a father but the dad is checked out. So my question is, where the hell have all the real dads gone? Oh, I hear the groaning, “I’m so busy with…” –I don’t give a shit how important you are at your job, how much money you make, how much of a demand people outside of your family require out of you. What you need to realize is that the most important job you will ever have on this planet is being a father. I don’t care if you’re the President of the United States, your most sacred duty is to your family, especially your children. A prime example of what being a great father is all about is former president George H.W. Bush. His son, former president George W. Bush, gave a heartfelt eulogy calling his dad “the best father a son or daughter could have.” He went on and on about how loving a parent his father was. Even a former president speaking about another former president summed up the other as a great dad above all else. So if that example doesn’t get you moving, then you’re just a deadbeat.
Yes, I know what you might be thinking, “Easy for you to say, Aubrey! You’re retired and have all the time in the world to be with your kids. I work long hours, and it’s hard to see my kids as much as I’d like.” Yes, I know some of you work very hard to provide for your family and your time is a precious commodity. But there isn’t anything more precious than the development and well-being of your children. You can’t tell me you can’t eliminate shit in your life that in comparison to your children really doesn’t matter or have value. For instance, are you hitting happy hour after work, golfing on the weekends, playing video games, watching T.V., or checking social media? If you answered yes, then guess what, you have time to spare. We all have the same twenty-four hours a day. What’s happening to some of you is that you have not prioritized your children. It’s amazing to me once you declare something a priority that it gets the attention it needs. Let me clarify some more, it’s not the total amount of time, but the quality of that time that matters. If you’re going to carve out thirty minutes to toss a ball around or just simply sit down and chat with them, put your damn phone away and be with them. Trust me, the world won’t end if you don’t have your phone connected to you at all times. Human civilization has been around many millennia without mobile phones so don’t give anyone the excuse you need to be checking it every time you hear it beep. In fact, if it’s distracting, mute it and put it away. Then go be with your child, be present.
Make it a point to make quality time with your kids daily, with no distractions. And don’t just take them to the park while you sit on your ass playing on your phone. Get involved. Play games with them, help them with the homework, go on a bike ride, whatever it is you can do with them, just be there with them one hundred percent. It’s in those moments that they learn and grow. And what a gift you’ve been given in return. You get to be their teacher, their mentor. Your influence is tremendous and impactful. You are shaping a life! Let that sink in. It’s absolutely sickening to me as a coach in basketball and Little League to see a ten-year-old kid who doesn’t even know how to play catch or dribble a basketball. I don’t blame the kids, I blame absent fathers. If the former leader of the free world had time for his kids, you can make time too. Stop making excuses. Stop being lazy.
I recently spent six days with my boys (ages ten and eight) at a dude ranch in Colorado. One particular night we had dinner with another family. Their family of four consisted of the father (who screamed beta male), the mother (who seemed as stuck up and uninvolved as they come) both around forty-five years old, the son about ten and the daughter, five. We were all talking about our day. My oldest, Jayce was excitedly telling the father, “We got the snowmobiles up to fifty-five miles per hour, it was awesome!” The look in my son’s eyes, and the excitement in his voice made me so proud and happy. Jayce continued to tell him about the horseback riding into the mountains with snow as far as the eyes could see. It was truly breathtaking and a memory my boys and I will NEVER forget. Now I must admit it was 2 degrees and I was cold AF. I was dead tired from the long day, filled with physical activities in the cold climate. It was a grind. But it was a happy sacrifice I wanted to make for the memories, bonding, and well-being of my boys.
I proceeded to ask the father what they did today as he was cutting his son’s steak into little pieces and feeding him as his kid was totally focused on an iPhone game. The kid never looked up once. All he did was open his mouth like a helpless baby bird. It was a pathetic scene. I stared in disbelief, I wanted to intervene and tell the ten year old to put the fucking iPhone down, and to cut his own damn meat. The dad said, “We didn’t really do anything but hang out in the cabin and chill. The kids just didn’t want to leave the cabin.” It was clear that their day was spent inside because both parents allowed their kids to play on technology all day, so they could check out themselves. The parents tried to blame the kids for not getting outside at a dude ranch. But the kids were not the ones to blame. Their sackless dad and self-absorbed mom were the culprits. I could tell just by speaking with him for five minutes he was beaten down by life, with zero confidence and passion. His wife had his balls deep in her three thousand dollar Gucci purse, with her smug look and mink fur coat. Lady, this is a dude ranch, not Rodeo fucking Drive. The only thing missing was their European nanny, sorry, au pair; nannies are so bourgeoisie.
I felt so bad for those kids. I’m willing to wager that most of these kids’ lives are spent on technology. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not an iPad Nazi, I let my kids play on their iPad and they are only allowed to have a flip phone. No smartphone, because why the hell would they need one? And I have a great system for the iPads that I encourage you to use. I charge their iPads once on Sunday night, starting Monday they have their iPads to use but only have that one charge, so they need to use it sparingly. If they use it all up in 4 hours one day then so be it, or they can drag it out for the week here and there. I’ve discovered it’s taught them how to value their time.
I believe kids today are softer than ever because the father isn’t around, or worse yet he is around, but he’s soft with no backbone to discipline them and teach them how to become respectful, independent, strong, confident happy adults. Where many men lack the desire or “time” to raise them, mothers are left to do the majority of the rearing. Mothers by their very nature are loving and nurturing. If a kid falls down on the playground I see a lot of moms rush to their child’s side as if they just got shot by a sniper. I’ve seen it so many times while coaching. I call these moms “helicopter moms.” Where mothers tend to worry about their children’s safety and well-being, involved fathers encourage their children to take risks. These dads are more likely to encourage their children to overcome obstacles, to talk to strangers, and teach them how to become successful men. And when children realize they can take calculated risks, they learn to handle themselves. They become tougher, independent, and confident. Next time you’re at a swimming pool and there are infants there with their parents notice the different way a father will hold the child versus a mother, it’s pretty much universal and instinctual. A mother will cradle the child and have their child’s face towards them, while a father will hold their child, face out. What does that say? A lot! The research on involved fathers and the development of their children is eye opening:
A study done by the U.S. Department of Education found that children of highly involved fathers were 43 percent more likely than other children to earn mostly A’s and 33 percent less likely to repeat a grade. They are also less likely to have behavior problems at school and to experience depression.
According to the Father Involvement Research Alliance review, girls with involved fathers have higher self-esteem, and teenage girls who are close to their dads are less likely to become pregnant. Boys show less aggression, less impulsivity, and more self-direction. As young adults, children of involved fathers are more likely to achieve higher levels of education, find success in their careers, have higher levels of self-acceptance and experience psychological well-being. Adults who had involved fathers are more likely to be tolerant and understanding, have supportive social networks made up of close friends, and have long-term successful marriages.
I have a saying that I live by: “I’d rather spend my money on memories, than things.” When your kids are adults they won’t remember the shit you bought them, but they will remember the memories, travel, and QUALITY time you spend with them. This is why I take my boys camping with an organization called ‘Indian Guides,’ sponsored by the YMCA (Troll Alert, No I’m not getting paid to post this part, so don’t even go there). For all you fathers out there looking for something fun to do with your sons, I highly recommend this program. And for you dads with daughters, they have one for dads and daughters as well called the ‘Indian Princesses.’ It’s one weekend every month and allows fathers and their sons/daughters to explore, play, and socialize wherever, and with whomever they want. They are also free of the opposite sex so if you have a boy and a girl; it looks like you’ll be doing it twice per month. Each time we go, I see my boys grow from the experiences and adventures they have. Their chests are always stuck out, heads up and shoulders back. They’re more social, funny and expressive than after a weekend at home. These campouts have taught me something very important as well, that they can handle themselves. That they’re tougher and more independent than I thought. I’ve learned to let go of my fear and worry that something bad could happen to them if I’m not there as I’ve seen they’re growing more and more capable.
I remember in one particular weekend, we camped at Joshua Tree. While all the dad’s sat around campfire bullshitting, I looked up at this massive rock outcropping that towered over one hundred feet and must have been at a sixty-five degree angle, yes; it was that steep. The kids had been on there earlier unsupervised and guess what, they were having the time of their lives. As I really took in the size and slope of it, I found myself in awe. Not in awe of how my boys could have gotten hurt, hell; they can trip in their bedrooms or slip getting out of the tub. I was in awe that they had scaled it, yes; it was a challenge for them, but they did it and all by themselves. Think of the confidence that builds! I’ve done dozens of these campouts and each have something similar to that rock outcropping and guess what, never have any of the children gotten hurt, yeah; they might get a scrap, but that’s not hurt. It’s truly amazing to know what our kids our capable of if we just let go and let them be sometimes. It not only builds them up but it also gives us parents the confidence that we can allow them independence. Some of you are probably curled up in a ball, crying out that I’m risking my kids to falls and broken bones, I feel the opposite. If you never allow your kids to know they can do shit, you’re putting them at greater risk when they become an adult and don’t know how to do anything. Remember, your job isn’t to coddle, it’s to prepare them to be an adult and they’ll live eighty percent of their lives as that, so stop hovering over them.
There isn’t a greater purpose, or passion in my life than being the best father I can be to my boys. I do so not just out of a deep sense of responsibility but also because I wanted to be the father my dad was unable to be. I have only one vivid memory of my father from when I five years old. I was sitting on my living room floor in our single wide trailer in Mineral Wells, Texas watching TV. I wanted to play with my dad so I turned to look at him as he sat in his recliner with a cigarette in one hand and a Bud Light in the other with a look of absolute misery on his face. I walked over tugging on his jeans asking him to play and he didn’t even acknowledge me. I walked away sad, hurt, and feeling not wanted. All I desperately craved was my father’s love, but for some reason he couldn’t give it.
Later that year, December 15th 1983 and five days before my sixth birthday he would be dead. According to the Abilene Reporter-News December 16th 1983: A man and woman were shot to death at the Royal Orleans Apartments, the man was my father, Aubrey Lewis Huff, Jr; he was only thirty; and the woman was Kerri Jo Hughes, twenty-three. Police arrested Travis Ray Hughes moments after the shooting with two witnesses identifying him as the man who fired the shots. The first officer on the scene, Bryan Smith found, “a white male lying face down on the east side of the office and a white female lying behind a desk almost directly in front of the door.”
There was nothing peaceful about the way my father left this Earth but I can say that he went out a fighter, defending the innocent and that makes me proud. My father was an electrician at the apartment complex and as he was headed to the front office to clock out for the day he heard a couple arguing very loudly. As he approached the couple to defuse the situation, Travis Ray Hughes pulled a .357 Magnum on him. According to eyewitnesses, my dad’s first reaction was to slap the gun away but Hughes pulled the trigger. The round struck my father in the hip, dropping him to the floor. Travis Ray Hughes then turned to his estranged wife, who was cowering behind the desk, and shot her once in the chest, and once in the head, killing her instantly.
According to court documents, Travis Ray Hughes then pointed the gun towards apartment complex manager Nee Jackson but before he could squeeze off another round, my dad leapt, shoved her Mrs. Jackson out of the way and tackled Hughes. When the two hit the floor, the gun was knocked out of Hughes’ grip. Like a scene in a movie, the two wrestled on the floor, but the match was unfair as my father was weakening due to extreme blood loss from the hip wound. Hughes got the better of my dad, grabbed the gun, and cowardly shot him in the back of the head, killing him instantly.
Despite my father never being around, and seemingly depressed and distant, I am incredibly proud to know he sacrificed his life for someone else. He wasn’t the most attentive husband or father, but one thing I’m confident in was that he loved us. I just don’t think he knew how to show it.
As I write this tears are streaming down my cheeks and dripping onto the keyboard. I’m still wounded from my past, not because of his murder so much, but because he was never around even when he was he wasn’t present. This is why I make sure to make every day count with my boys, and I encourage you to do the same because you never know when it will be your last.
The pain of not having a father in my life made it extremely hard for me to be a true masculine man. The greatest thing that helped me was to forgive him, to let go and know his actions were his and not in any way due to anything I did. Forgiveness is a powerful tool, I strongly encourage you all to forgive those you feel might have hurt you, let go of that pain and transform it into love.
Now you know why I’m so passionate about my role as a father, and want more fathers around the United States to become more for their kids. I don’t want to be the same distant father I remember mine being. I don’t want my boys to have to struggle learning how to be a man, I want them to feel the love from their father that I never got. Looking back now, I can say I was statistically fortunate to have made it out alive but for many kids especially boys; they aren’t so lucky. The stats are in, and according to the U.S Department of Justice, children from fatherless homes account for:
63% of youth suicides.
90% percent of all homeless and runaway youths.
85% percent of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders.
71% percent of all high school dropouts.
70% percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions.
75% percent of adolescent patients in substance abuse centers.
75% percent of rapists motivated by displaced anger.
85% of youths in prisons grew up in a fatherless home.
And according to the US Department of Census, daughters of single parents without a father involved are 53% more likely to marry as teenagers, 711% more likely to have children as teenagers, 164% more likely to have a pre-marital birth and 92% more likely to get divorced themselves. Adolescent girls raised in a two parent home with involved fathers are significantly less likely to be sexually active than girls raised without involved fathers. And most shocking of all, one-third of all American children are growing up without their biological fathers in the house or in their lives, that’s just sad and will no doubt manifest itself in negative ways for generations to come.
Believe me when I say that I’m not a perfect father, that’s not what I’m saying here. What I’m saying is I see a problem in our society as it pertains to our children and the family unit and I don’t think it has anything to do with much of the bullshit some people are saying it is. It boils down to how our children are being raised which includes the values being instilled in them, the discipline and expectations we shoulder on them. What I’m trying to impress on you is that we’re the reason some kids today are little shitheads, rude, ignorant, fat, etc. We so often will say, “Kids these days are…” But the reality is it’s not the kids fault, it’s the parents. Recognizing my role in my boys’ lives I’ve made the decision to step up and ensure that they grow to be men, true men. Responsible, productive individuals who flourish and eventually create the same foundation in their homes one day. The raising of children is not the government, nor the schools responsibility, it falls directly in the lap of the parents.
In the end all we can hope to do is love on our children and grow them to be able to take care of themselves, and make their own decisions. We aren’t going to be able to protect them when they go off to high school, and college. They will even have to learn that the garbage the majority of liberal colleges are trying to indoctrinate them is bullshit and a topic for another blog. They will be exposed to alcohol, drugs, and pre-marital sex before college even starts, but if we’ve done our job as parent’s they will have a strong foundation of values that will guide them to make the right decisions and strength to know that if they do fail that failure is merely an opportunity to learn and grow. So please, take time out of your day to be with your kids, show them love, be present, guide them, and finally because it hasn’t been said yet, don’t be their fucking friends, they have enough of them, be their parent; it’s a special position and one that we must take pride in and one more thing, any asshole can have a kid, it takes a real man to be a father.