Second-generation NFL players Freddie Scott II and Jeff Kemp get to the heart of domestic violence issues.
Recently, a couple of Stepping Up blog contributors (who happen to both be second-generation NFL players) were together at FamilyLife for a TV interview to give their perspectives on the NFL and its recent domestic violence issues.
While most every other voice you’re hearing blasts the league for the rampant problems among players and how poorly it’s handling the issue, these two former NFL players have a different take. A much more positive one.
Freddie Scott is actually working with NFL teams, players, and the players union to address issues like these, how to avoid them, and how to create a new paradigm for players who grew up in unstable homes. Jeff Kemp contends that the disciplines that the NFL teaches to its players to make them great performers and teammates are the very disciplines that make for strong fathers, husbands and men, creating safer, stronger homes.
Check out some additional footage from the interview that wasn’t part of the final broadcast:
By the way, just after Jeff and Freddie did this interview, they were in FamilyLife’s video studio to talk extensively about the subject. Our video team is working on editing those clips and we’ll pass them along to you as they become available.
In 2003, Hurricane Isabel slammed into the East Coast of the United States, lashing North Carolina and Virginia, then moving north all the way to Canada, leaving 16 dead and cutting power to six million homes. The edges of the hurricane passed through Washington, DC, prompting the President and members of Congress to find safer ground.
That’s what a soldier does. He acknowledges the storm, but he doesn’t give in to it. He stands firm.
As a friend told me, “If these men can stand guard over the dead, how much more important is it that I stand guard over the living — my wife and children?”
Watch a clip of interviews with these guards:
Like these soldiers, we are called to stand and do our duty while staring down the very storms that seek to rob us men of courage, taunting and tempting us to neglect our duty and abandon our posts. These storms are packing some power. Are you ready for them?
Storm #1: Damnable Training by Fathers
I once met a man who grew up in a remote section of our country. He admitted that the only advice he received as a boy from his father about women was
Get ’em young.
Treat ’em rough.
Tell ’em nothing.
I wonder how that advice worked for him in his marriage.
You could say this is a legacy of the “strong, silent, tough man” image often passed down from father to son. This is the type of misguided training in manhood that has corrupted so many men as the leaders in their homes — selfish men who control their wives and children so that their own needs are met.
And that’s just one part of the problem. Many boys grow up with fathers who are distant and passive. Fathers who rarely engage their families, and when they do, their half-hearted attempts to train their sons may promote irresponsible, or even immoral, behavior. Like the father whose idea of sex education for his twelve-year-old son was to take him to a strip joint. There they sat for three hours as the women did their thing onstage. No words were spoken. When they arrived home later that night, the dad told his wife, “There, I did it! Now I’m going to bed.”
Another son told me about the knock at his door as he packed to go to college. His father handed him a small paper bag with this sage advice, “Don’t be foolish son — use ’em.”
You could likely tell your own story of how you were trained or abandoned by your father. Too many men today were raised by fathers who didn’t step up to their responsibilities. Is it any wonder we have a generation of men who feel lost and aimless, not knowing how to face their fears or think rightly about themselves, women, and their own passions?
Storm #2: Fatherless Families
The relentless, howling winds of a culture of divorce have uprooted the family tree with it at least two generations of men. With our high divorce rates and the increasing number of births to single women (nearly four out of ten children are born to an unwed mother), the number of children in the United States who live in a single-parent household has more than doubled since 1978.
Children are the innocent victims of this raging storm. The bottom line: dad is AWOL in far too many homes today. This phenomenon has prompted David Blankenhorn, founder of the Institute for American Values, to pronounce that the fatherless family “is a social invention of the most daring and untested design. It represents a radical departure from virtually all of human history and experience.”
The social implications of fatherless families are endless. For example, the greatest predictor of a child dropping out of high school, committing a crime, and going to prison is a home without a dad. Many young people grow up today in areas where the only adult male role models they know are live-in boyfriends or gang leaders. The fallout has only just begun: a crop of weak young men and frustrated women who are looking for real men.
One of the greatest challenges any boy could endure is trying to become a man without a father to show him how. How can a boy know what it looks like to behave as a man, love like a man, and be a man in the battle if the main man in his life has abandoned him? My friend, Crawford Loritts, works with young men to build their skills as leaders. He writes that the issue of courage keeps coming up in their conversations:
Many of [these young men] grapple with fear. … I think that the dismantling of our families over the past fifty years or so has almost institutionalized fear and uncertainty. Divorce, the rise of single-parent households, and the tragic assortment of abuses and dysfunctions in our families have produced a generation with many young people who are afraid of risk, and afraid to make mistakes.
So many of our young men grew up in homes in which they had limited or no contact with their fathers, or they had dads who were detached and didn’t provide any meaningful leadership. We are left with a legacy of men who, in varying degrees, have been feminized. They are uncertain about who and what a man is, and how a man acts and behaves. They are fearful of assuming responsibility and taking the initiative in charting direction.
Storm #3: A Culture of Confusion
My son came home one weekend from his university — a large southern school not exactly known for being the center for liberal thought — and shared with me that he had been taught in class that there weren’t two sexes but five: male, female, homosexual male, homosexual female, and transgender. No wonder young men are confused and young women are left wondering where the real men are! We’re living in a multiple-choice culture: are you an A, B, C, D, or E? Male sexuality and identity have become a bewildering array of options.
Think of what it must be like for young boys growing up today. Media outlets and educational elites attack the traditional roles of men and claim that a man who seeks to be a leader in his family is actually oppressing his wife and children. Our culture is permeated with sexuality, where children are exposed to explicit messages and distorted images at a far younger age than their parents were. The educational system doesn’t seem to know how to teach boys, and as a result, girls are leaping ahead in test scores, college enrollment, and graduation rates. Boys are increasingly medicated because their parents don’t know how to channel their masculinity, adventure, and drive.
Is it any wonder that boys grow up so confused?
“I don’t know how to do family.”
In the wake of these storms lies a generation of men who don’t know how to be men. They don’t know how to have real relationships — with women, with their children, or with other men. And many grow up with what I call a courage deficit — they have little idea what men of courage look like, or what types of courageous choices they need to make as they move through their lives. One of these men came to my front door one Saturday morning. I’ll never forget him standing sheepishly in the doorway. “Mr. Rainey, in the past couple of years, I’ve gotten married and had two children,” he said, “and I’ve determined that I don’t know how to do marriage. And I don’t know how to do family. Could you help me?” This young man articulated what millions of young men are feeling today — inadequate, fearful, angry, and in desperate need of manhood training and vision.
So, have you been robbed of courage?
What are the storms you’ve encountered? Did you see courage modeled well in your home? Do you have a foundational plan to help you walk through the obstacles in your life? These are real issues in our lives. Until we get at the root of our storms, we will be in turbulent waters. Only when we are investing our lives into other men and allowing them to invest in us, all under the guidance of God and His Holy Spirit, we can’t find peace in this place for the storms we face as men. Is your home safe in the storms of life?
Excerpted with permission from Stepping Up, by Dennis Rainey, FamilyLife Publishing, 2012.