Joe Kissack, author of The Fourth Fisherman, on Red Flags

Ladies, girls and daughters . . . please hear and see this. You must choose wisely. I beg of you as if you were my own. The man you are dating (or about to) doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. That’s right, he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

Please allow me to explain. This may not exactly be a news flash for many women out there dating but most men – and by most I mean practically all men – are clueless.

When it comes to understanding themselves, the paths they choose, how they are driven, where they are going and why, men don’t know what they don’t know about any of it. I can say this with 100 percent certainty because I am a man and we are all the same (don’t let the different jobs and hair styles fool you). Very few males understand this.

I am also the father of two very beautiful young women who are entering the season of their lives that will likely lead to the most important decision they will ever make, and it is my sworn oath to give them a legacy of knowledge and experience, no matter the cost. Also, I want to try to ease some of the heartache that comes from us knuckle-headed men.

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My daughters are starting the prime of their courting careers and we all know something about sitting in a tree: K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, and then comes (yup, you guessed it) marriage, the most important decision they will ever make. It is of my supreme desired that my little darlings choose wisely. Because if they don’t and you don’t, and trust me on this one, you don’t want no baby carriage!

Now that I have spilled the beans on this not knowing what we don’t know thing, all is not lost (although after reading this, you may tell the boyfriend to get lost). Even though he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, you can. If you have the desire, you can choose the option to help him figure some of this out now, instead of the mandatory sentence of helping him figure it out in the wake of destruction of two little words: I do.

You do this by utilizing what I like to call Operation Red Flag (ORF) and it is a simple two-stage plan.

The first stage consists of a few casually positioned queries that will give you an understanding of where he and generations before him have been, where he is today and where he is headed in the future. Just simple little questions like: Tell me about your dad? Do you know your grandfather well? How do your parents get along?

If you hear answers like: “I haven’t spoken to that $@*% in years” – Red Flag; or “My father left when I was…”- Red Flag; or if you hear words like: arrested, fighting, police, alcoholic, prison, addict, etc. – Red Flag.

Once you see the first Red Flag, you should start counting. The more Red Flags you count, the more he doesn’t know about what he doesn’t know. Zero Red Flags has never been achieved, so if you don’t hear any Red Flags, put him down for three. If you hear one or more Red Flags, may I caution you with a Red Flag?

One of my favorite things is to spend time with my daughters. But lately I have relinquished my rights to have them all to myself and I have encouraged them to explore the second stage of ORF: spend as much time as they can with their gentleman caller’s father and ask him a few of the same questions.

If any of his answers are remotely similar to the boyfriend’s – Red Flag. If the answers sound like crickets or are only one syllable (nope, fine, yup) – Red Flag; or if the answer implies, “None of your business” – Red Flag. Then look up the meaning of the phrase: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” (Hint-DNA is the fundamental and distinctive characteristics of someone or something when regarded as unchangeable.)

You must trust that in asking you to hear this, it is because I want something good for you. I want you to choose a man who can see some of his own Red Flags. A man who knows his history, of who he is and where he came from is going to be a much better partner.

Ladies, girls and daughters . . . the Red Flag is a sign of what he doesn’t know but what he must deal with. Your choice is either to deal with it when the relationship first starts or after you say, “I do.” You must choose wisely.

joe-kissack-author-photoJOE KISSACK is a speaker, author, screenwriter, film and television executive, publisher, and entrepreneur. His job descriptions cover a wide spectrum, from working on a farm and cleaning out refrigerated beef trucks to serving as a senior executive for Sony Pictures. His speaking engagements also vary, as he provides inspiration for charities, churches, and business conferences. Joe lives in Atlanta with Carmen, his wife of more than twenty-five years, and their two daughters.

RIFers! To celebrate the release of The Fourth Fisherman, which lands in book stores today, we’re giving away copies on Read It Forward Facebook. Enter for your chance to win a copy, and good luck, all!

About Kira Walton

KIRA WALTON has been stalking books all her life as a college English teacher, bookseller, book club consultant, author, and editor.

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