I grew up in a rough, inner-city ghetto in Miami, the son of a 16-year-old mother. And as tough as it was growing up without a father, not having him attend any of my wrestling matches, football, basketball, or baseball games, one of the most difficult things I had to endure was his never teaching me how to swim. That may be hard to believe, but I’m not talking about that kind of swimming. In fact, the swimming I’m talking about doesn’t involve water. It involves skills every man should know.
They’re like each of the strokes swimmers need to use. And if we didn’t learn them from our fathers, we need to learn them from another man—somebody you love, trust, and respect. I didn’t meet such a man until I was 33 years old. That delay cost me a 16-year marriage, broke other relationships, and caused financial hardships. If nobody has taught you yet, it’s not too late. These are the 4 skills every man should know.
1. The BackstrokeAs men, our past may explain us, but it doesn’t excuse us from present and future decisions.
Every man must learn to come to grips with his past and learn from his past mistakes, hurts, habits, and hangups. As men, our past may explain us, but it doesn’t excuse us from present and future decisions. It is said that a man who doesn’t learn from his past is destined to repeat it. You won’t have to repeat the past if you learn to master the backstroke.
2. The Butterfly Stroke
Every man must learn to find, accept, and live his God-given purpose in life. Every man, metaphorically, starts out as a caterpillar, but he wasn’t intended to remain a caterpillar, crawling on his belly for the rest of his life. He was expected to transform into a butterfly because he was destined and designed to fly, not crawl. But the butterfly stroke doesn’t happen by osmosis; it has to be learned actively.
3. The Breast Stroke
Every man must learn to win the heart of his wife. Many men have found themselves treading water when it comes to this part of life. Whether you become a husband or not, every man must learn not only how to love a woman but also to understand the inner workings of her heart.
4. The Freestyle Stroke
Every man must learn how to communicate freely with his children, without fear, shame, or judgment. It’s one skill to master the heart of a woman, but it’s another to win the heart of your child. A father must learn how to provide his children with a safe place to hurt and a healthy place to heal by getting them to freely share their fears, doubts, and insecurities.
Although it took me longer than most to learn how to “swim,” my current wife and my blended family are so glad I did. I’m living proof that it’s never too late for swimming lessons.
Bonus: And it’s not too early to teach your kids these 10 skills they need to know before they leave home.
Sound off: Are there any other skills every man should know? List them in a comment.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What swimming stroke are you best at?”