Happy Fathers’ Day!
Happy Father’s Day! If you are a father, I hope you are enjoying the day with your kids.
All but one of my kids are grown-up, but not having started their own families yet, they still live with my wife and me. I’ve been informed that I’m getting taken out to lunch today. I’ll call my own dad, which is as much as I can do since he lives far away. I’ll send him photos of his grandkids by email.
A lot of men won’t enjoy today, because their kids were taken away from them, and/or their own dads were. If you’re one of them, you probably have some unresolved feelings about that. You might be conscious of those feelings or not; many men repress them. Either way, channel those feelings into action to heal yourself and spare the next generation.
For the same reasons farmers don’t usually allow their livestock to raise their own broods, the expandability of dads is so deeply-ingrained in western culture that it has broken the culture itself in many ways. It might be hard to tell for the same reasons that a fish doesn’t notice water. A lot of men don’t realize what’s missing, because they don’t have the right experiences to use as references. You can see the problem by contrast if you’ve ever been exposed to intact and functional traditional cultures (not all traditional cultures are intact or functional!).
One of the most heartwarming examples of fatherhood I’ve ever witnessed involved a surrogacy situation in a traditional fishing culture of an ethnic and religious (Christian) minority tribe living in Indonesia. A man there took in an orphan and raised him as his own son. They were probably at least somewhat related, and in any case, in tight-knit traditional communities like that, everybody knows everybody.
They had a closer and more functional relationship than most biological father-son relationships in western cultures. One of their interactions was the man painting the boy with war-paint for a tribal ceremony, both of them grinning broadly.
The boy in turn had a good relationship with his chums, which is a function of having had good relationships with their dads. Your relationship with your mother is in many ways a blueprint for how you will relate to women, and your relationship with your father is in many ways a blueprint for how you relate to other men. Men who are skilled at relating with other men tend to be more successful in business and career, and therefor life generally, than men who aren’t.
All of the boys were noticeably healthier psychologically than is typical of their western counterparts, being more competent within their environment, and lacking all the weird neurotic behaviors that are now ubiquitous among westerners. It might be hard to understand the difference until you see it for yourself, because most of us are so habituated to the latter.
I know what needs to change, but I can’t fix it by myself, and at this point it’s a matter of fighting the tide because the culture is working against us.
One thing that would help would be men’s fiction featuring good fatherly role models and good relationships with sons and daughters. The best fiction gives us vicarious experiences we can learn and grow from. All we have instead is an abundance of “lost father” themes like in Star Wars and Dune, or in other words, an unfulfilled longing.
Keep reading my blog. You can give me feedback in the comments. Let’s keep the conversation going, and then move from talk to action.