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Q&A Interview: Mental Health Issues Men and Fathers Are Facing (Featuring Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. Jeffrey Shears)

At the annual Fatherhood CoMission Summit, we’re always blessed to have so many fatherhood and family leaders attend, teach, and encourage us. We have so many videos that it’s difficult to fit them all in! This explains why I’m posting this interview between Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. Jeffrey Shears from last year.

Dr. Clinton and Dr. Shears discuss mental health issues that men and fathers are facing. The interview is packed with stories, encouragement, and timely for you as a leader of men and families. Take time to watch or read. The full interview is found by watching the video. However, I’ve added portions of the questions and answers in this post for you to review. Listen in as Dr. Shears interviews Dr. Clinton and they discuss mental health issues that men and fathers are dealing with.

Q&A Interview: Mental Health Issues Men and Fathers Are Facing
(Featuring Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. Jeffrey Shears)

The following post is a portion of the above interview between Dr. Tim Clinton (TC) and Dr. Jeffrey Shears (JS) recorded at the Fatherhood Summit 2022.

JS: Tim, what are the issues and challenges for men and fathers as you see them?

TC: I think one of the biggest issues is dads realizing how significant they are. I was at an event with Ralph Reed in Washington and at the event, Dr. Dobson was receiving the Winston Churchill Award. I’ll never forget what happened that evening. As he made his way to the podium he thanked everybody and then he kind of looked out over the crowd in almost a blank stare and he said something that I’ll never forget. He said, “I wish my dad was here.”

Dr. Dobson was 80 years old at that moment when he received that award. If you know anything about Dobson’s history, you know how significant his father was to him. And, Jeff, when I think about dads, I love to tell the story of the little leaguer in center field who was waiting for the next play. Sure enough, the line drive got hit out in the center field to him and it was obvious, he wasn’t really paying attention. He bumbled around, missed the ball, and later on in the dugout, Coach came up to him all red-faced. The player looked up at the coach. The coach said, “You know what happened out there?” The boy looked up at his coach and said, “I’m sorry, Coach. I was looking in the stands for my dad.”

Whether young or old, male or female, we all look in the stands for our dad. His influence is one of the most significant, most critical components of life. You know why, because it’s really simple—dad’s matter.
Our culture wants to take men, take dads out of the picture. And, in a lot of ways, we’ve taken ourselves out. But all the research is clear, dad’s matter.

JS: Also, I want to think about helping inform us we’re hearing things about mental health issues, depression, anxiety… What are you hearing that you can give us to assist in our work with men and fathers, in the churches and community?

TC: We have a mental health disaster going on. I believe with all my heart that mental health is one of the greatest if not the greatest challenges facing the church and the world community going forward for the next 5-10 years.

Whether you want to turn a blind eye to it or not, it’s real and it’s strong, and what we’re seeing a lot in men and male depression. We’re writing more prescriptions for anxiety than we’ve ever written. But there’s another piece in this kind of journey. At the end of the day, men struggle and have always struggled in this relationship piece. Because a lot of men’s identity is what they do and what others think of them. So their performance mindset, coupled with their “attachment” issues that they often have — this is the fatherless generation — who’s parenting right now? You’re seeing it show up. This lack of ability to connect emotionally…we’re seeing a lot of dads show up physically but not necessarily emotionally.

JS: Before we end, I want you to talk more about men’s relationship styles and how they may predict his success as a father.

TC: A lot of the work that I’ve done through the years is in relationship psychology. I’ve had the privilege of working with a lot of Christian leaders and professional athletes in this area. God taught me through the years that we all have a relationship style for good and bad how we do or how we don’t do relationships.

A lot of it goes back to how we were parented. Dr. Dobson taught us through the years that we often see God through the eyes of our father. The reflection that you have before your son or your daughter is how they often see God. The ability to be emotionally present, for example, the ability to be attuned to them, the ability to understand their emotional journey, to see their brokenness—by the way—to be touched with the feelings of their infirmities like Jesus is for us…that gift…there are a lot of dads who are showing up. We’re trying to be good fathers but we don’t have that emotional connection. They don’t understand what they’re really doing in the life of their son or daughter. When you see all the research, you know the significance of his influence for good and for bad.

JS: As we close today just want to provide the audience with any takeaways we need to minister better to the father, what we can put in our toolbox to help us do a better job?

TC: I was reflecting this morning with the Lord, alone. I saw a video recently online of an older man. He’s not Christian, but he makes a comment about how we chase things that really don’t matter. The modern-day definition of the word tragedy is “being successful in the stuff that nobody cares about.” Think about this: At the end of the day, what really matters — and his comment was this, “You know what really matters? Whether or not your kids want to come home and see you when you’re old…whether or not they want to be with you…”

That’s a big deal. That’s what puts chills all over me. Dr. Dobson said it this way, “Life will trash your trophies. In the end, all that matters is who you loved and who loved you.” God help us.