Steven Conner Skeen
Contact Steven Conner Skeen
Eric Davis – author, patriot, father, former Navy SEAL and Navy SEAL sniper instructor. Saying this man has an admirable level of life experience would be an understatement.
Recently Eric wrote a book titled – Raising Men: Lessons Navy SEALS Learned from Their Training and Taught to Their Sons. Throughout the book Eric shares his insights, thoughts, and strategies when it comes to raising men and earning one’s title as a father.
As a Navy SEAL would, Eric has a few of his fellow frogmen walk alongside him throughout the book, jumping in every now and then to share parental insights from their experiences as well.
This isn’t a review of the book. Moreso, it’s what I’ve taken away from it after going through it a couple times over the past couple weeks. Thank god for Audible…
If you’ve read any of my past articles you know I’ve only recently jumped into the role of being a parent when I married my incredible wife Danielle. The guys you hear from in Eric’s book have been parents for a huge majority of their lives. They share their failures, their triumphs, and what they’ve learned over the years as they’ve raised their children in this rapid and ever changing world we live in.
My take aways:
Take Away #1 | Be someone worth following:
Kids aren’t stupid. If they feel like you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, that they can rely on you, or that they know more about something than you do… chances are they’re not going to listen to you, much less follow you. Why should they?
If you’ve stopped developing as a father, as a husband, or a person as a whole, you can’t blame your kids for not wanting to follow you or listen to you. This is where looking in the mirror to fix our problems comes in. Sometimes the issues we’re having with our kids or in our lives in general, stem from us, not uncontrollable outside factors like we would like to think it is.
Think about it, if you’re always getting after your kids for interrupting people during a conversation, check yourself next time you or your family are having a conversation. Little Tommy might have not fallen far from the tree.
If we take responsibility in every aspect of our lives, there’s no one to blame for anything except ourselves. And in doing so, we set ourselves up for massive success both in life and as parents.
Take Away #2 | Being there and being there are two different things:
Proximity has nothing to do with how close we are to someone, especially our kids. Through numerous deployments, Eric has experienced this first hand.
He makes a great point that just because we see our kids or our loved ones every day, doesn’t automatically mean we’re there for them. More importantly, it doesn’t automatically mean that we help make our loved ones feel like we’re there for them.
It’s easy to get lazy and complacent. We text someone all day long, see them at home, sit and watch a TV show with them, check social media by their side, and so on. But at what point do we truly make and share a connection with that loved one?
Something we need to remember is that doing something together is a lot different than experiencing something together. It’s a fine line, one we must walk and pay attention to.
Truly being there for someone is taking the time to ensure they feel loved, valued, and respected. This takes both time and effort, a couple of the hottest commodities we have. But what better way to spend those hot commodities than on our loved ones?
Take Away #3 | Activities:
Staying active is paramount for all of us, something Eric also outlines in his book. There’s something specific though that we would should aim to accomplish with the activities we choose to do with our children.
That specific something is to do activities that we’ve already mastered so it forces our kids to look to us for guidance. It’s brilliantly simple and kids love to learn. Moreso, they love to learn from those they love.
Haven’t mastered anything yet or for a while? Then we need to get off our asses and learn how to do something new with our kids. Even if we haven’t mastered whatever it is that we’re doing, or would like to do, our kids look to us for guidance and affirmation in almost every decision they make.
Don’t suppress the energy they have for life and learning, feed it.
Take Away #4 | Correcting Bad Behavior and Some:
Correcting bad behavior isn’t enough. There must be the immediate correction of the behavior, but also follow up to better help understand why our kids misbehaved.
How do we do this?
Immediately correct the bad behavior, but follow up directly after by asking your kids why they felt they needed to act the way they did, or better yet ask them what caused them to act the way they did.
Not only do we have an opportunity to get a better understanding of what’s truly going on, there’s a great strategy at work here.
Asking our kids, or anyone for that matter, what caused them to act a certain way instead of asking why they acted a certain way is a lot less accusatory. Therefore, they’re a lot more open to sharing with us exactly what’s going on in their minds and why they did what they did.
If we don’t know what’s really going on, we have no hope of fixing the root of the problem.
Take Away #5 | Hold yourself accountable:
I talked a little bit about holding ourselves accountable up top when I talked about being someone worth following. We hear things like this all the time, and it’s easy to let it flow in one ear and out the other. We all know what it means to be accountable, but actually living it is an entirely different story.
Here’s a quick example that just happened to me recently straight from my own life.
I like to think I’m pretty accountable for the most part. If I’m wrong, I have no issues whatsoever admitting it. If something not so desirable happens and the fault lies within my actions, I have no problem owning that failure. I caught myself though in this instance on something I don’t think a lot of us would consider noteworthy. However, it’s these little defining moments in my opinion that build the foundations of everything else. In this circumstance, that something else just happened to be my relationship with my 3 year old.
My 6 year old was in time out for some minor misbehavior. Since I go back and forth on the effectiveness of timeout, I’ve been trying other forms of discipline. My goal being to redirect their attention to something productive, helpful, and as Eric states in his book, that will help build their confidence instead of break it.
There was 3 minutes left on the timeout timer, he was calm, and I was doing dishes. So cut him a deal. I told him he could come out and be done with timeout if he helped clean and put the rest of the dishes in the dishwasher (this has worked amazingly for me by the way).
Now here’s where my 3 year old comes in. She absolutely loves to help out. So when my 6 year old came into the kitchen to help with dishes, she was right there behind him.
In a rush to judgement as she stepped in to help, I told her no, that she couldn’t help because this was my 6 year old’s task to get out of timeout. Cue the crying and running off to the bedroom.
A millisecond after I told her no, it hit me. What’s wrong with the two of them working together? Well… nothing. Did it hinder the punishment at all for my 6 year old getting out of timeout? Not really. After thinking about it, the impact for good far outweighed any bad.
My 6 year old asked if he could go get her and bring her back to help and immediately I said yes. So off he went, and a moment later returned with his helper.
All in a split second I thought to myself, “Well I better own up and apologize to her for saying no for really no reason whatsoever. Would she appreciate it? That doesn’t matter, the right thing to do is apologize and own up.”
So I did, I held myself accountable in what seemed like such a miniscule thing, but again, one of those little defining moments that build monumental foundations.
I told her that I was sorry for saying no when she tried to jump in and help, that I should have asked my 6 year old if he minded that she helped out, and that it was wrong of me to rush to the decision.
The dishes were done and we lived happily ever after… at least until bed time.
So often we’re taught or conditioned to believe that admitting failure, much less admitting failure to our kids is weak. They’ll just go walking all over us if we start apologizing and admitting our faults! Because parents are always perfect… In all of that is our failure. There’s a huge difference between admitting a fault and not owning our titles as parents.
Obviously this is a small example of holding myself accountable for my actions and my decisions when it comes to being a parent. However, we can never assume how large or small the impact of something may be for our kids.
Think about it, if someone stands in front of us and openly admits their wrongdoing or failure, we have ten times the respect for them than if they stood there trying to feed us BS about how it was someone else fault. Speaking of which, I just might have to tag this article under our politics genre as well…
All in all, the book was a great read and there are some invaluable reminders throughout its contents. The hilarious insight into SEAL team members getting even with one another in and of itself was worth the read.
Thank you Eric for the kick ass book and for what you and men like you have done for this incredible country that so many of us call home.