Culture, Life

4 Ways “This Is Us” Reveals the Art of Being a Family Man

This Sunday, we celebrate Father’s Day. This day reminds us, at least for a day, to pause and remember our fathers who have given us life. It also gives us an opportunity to reflect on the great love of our Father in heaven and our identity as His sons and daughters.

Sadly, in this world we live in, many do not have father figures to honor — and our culture can sometimes de-value the role of a good father, particularly in the entertainment scene. Most shows on prime-time TV stereotype fathers as dumb and useless, and few characters in movies have left me wanting to be a better man. Inspiring characters like Colonel Hal Moore (“We Were Soldiers”), Louie Zamperini (“Unbroken”) and Shane (“Shane”) only begin the conversation.

Now I’m not a film critic, and I’ve probably seen fewer than the average amount of television series. But, I’ve seen enough to know there are few shows with characters who actually inspire me. However, the new NBC series — “This Is Us” — has caught my attention on a few levels.

On one level, the series shows that family life gets messy, and that it’s okay. What would family life be without a little drama? The show doesn’t hide life’s challenges: growing up, creating your own family, loving family members when they make mistakes. Above all, it reminds viewers of a crucial ideal of family life: We are family, no matter what.

On another level, there’s Jack Pearson. Jack, the dad character, is a cool guy and worthy of much respect. Jack captures the audience by being a family man.

To be clear, Jack is no saint. The show moves from his early struggles with alcohol, when times were hard early in his marriage, to his becoming a man — a man his wife relies on and a man for his children. His children love him deeply. He is attentive to his wife and knows what she needs; he anticipates those needs, and asks nothing in return. He pursues a romantic relationship with his wife, even surprising her from time to time. (In one episode, he rents out their first apartment for one night to remind them of their commitment to each other so many years ago, and they renew their wedding vows to each other). Here are some of the other great characteristics of Jack Pearson:

  1. He loves his wife and is totally dedicated to her at any cost.
  2. He recognizes that, when things don’t go as planned, they must make the most of it.
  3. He works hard and provides for his family.
  4. He is a father to his children. He knows they look up to him, and he doesn’t disappoint. He gets into their lives when they are little. He is silly with them: dancing and singing; swimming and jumping with them. He teaches them to respect their mother, whom they love dearly.
  5. He is quick to understand his failures, and he works to get better.

While it may be easy for an actor to portray the ideal version of a family man, trying to live out that fatherly ideal in real life isn’t as easy as having a script and stage directions. Yet, we are all chosen to be the best we can be.

Here are four simple ways we can take Jack’s example and begin to form ourselves in ways of love and virtue — so that, when the time comes, we can be the best fathers and husbands we are called to be:Be present and accept life as it comes. “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:16 – 18).

  1. Be where you are. Be present and accept life as it comes. “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:16 – 18).
  2. Practice self-mastery. Grow in discipline and virtue now. Today, choose to grow in the virtue of perseverance. Write down one thing in which you will persevere over the next 30 days.
  3. For all you women out there: Expect more from your man. Yes, we love you, and we might fail to show it at times — but when you help us out, we can rise above! Don’t settle for less.
  4. Be a man of faith. Embrace the fact that God has not called you to comfort, but to greatness. Without Jesus, you cannot be who He (or anyone else) wants you to be.

While “This Is Us” has its flaws, it is a breath of fresh air when it comes to seeing a wholesome family grow together, deal with tragedy and survive the messiness of life together. These are traits which all families should adopt — especially when DAD sets the tone.