On Fatherhood

April 27th, 2008

I am a father of three. As such, I struggle with the role I play in their lives and our relationship. Our society today does not understand the father. The “ideal” father today is sensitive and encouraging, we are told. He is not punishing or demanding, as fathers were portrayed prior to the 1960s. The sensitive father ideal does not sit well with me. I recently had some ideas as to why.

The “sensitive” father is a weak father. The role of the father is to teach masculine mysteries. The role of the mother is to teach the feminine mysteries. For a father to focus on being sensitive and encouraging all the time is weak and lacks the teaching of discipline and will, which are the masculine pillars of the Witches Square.

I recently watched an ad for a show on the History Channel called Ax Men. It showed the tension between a son and a father who are both timber loggers. The son says the father rides him too much and the father takes pride in knowing that he pushes his son very hard. The father even mentions that his son will overtake him one day, but not today. This is a father image more consistent with how I’ve started to see myself and antithetical to the current ideal father.

A father needs to push his children past the point where they would push themselves. A child does not know their own potential and if not pushed, will simply stop where they are comfortable. The father sees the true potential the child has and pushes it as an expectation to be met. This builds character in the child.

There is also a reverse current, as everything is a cycle. A young child sees his father as being larger than life and perfect. The father’s shoes are very large and the child, especially a son, is expected to fill them one day. The father knows his own faults and weaknesses that are not apparent to the child. The key in this is that the father is not to reveal his weaknesses too much to the child. He is to show his shoes as being very large to fill. And when the child becomes close to filling them, he needs to make them larger.

This leads the father to improve himself. He may see his child exhibit the same weaknesses he lives with. He, as the father, should push himself to resolve the internal conflicts that lead to the weaknesses. This makes him a stronger father. It also allows the father to teach his child how to overcome the same weaknesses.

This cycle of the father pushing the child to excel and the child pushing back on the father to grow creates a strong bond between the two. It also helps both grow beyond their limitations and beyond their potential, creating new levels of potential in both.

Unfortunately, in our post-modern society, the father image is emasculated. He is seen as being too harsh and punishing. He is shown as cold and uncaring, even unloving and unlovable. An agent of the patriarchal machine that oppresses with fear.

Instead, the ideal father today is to be mostly feminine. He is to be sensitive and nurturing, focusing on growing the child’s self-esteem. This obsession with self-esteem, though, causes the child to grow without developing character, which is the combination of discipline and will.

My sister is an elementary music teacher in a small town public school. She has told many stories of her first grade students’ lack of basic discipline. I was surprised that she has needed to call administration to come and physically remove a student many times during the last year, as her abilities to discipline the unruly children are hampered by the current laws. I remember being that age and I never saw a student carried out of class by security. And this is in a small town, not a large inner-city school. I asked what she thought caused the change in the children from when we grew up to now. Her response was that it was the lack of discipline at home.

Our society needs a return of the strong father figure. Children need a father who can see the child’s potential and expect them to do nothing less than their best at achieving it. Excuses for mediocrity and failure should not be accepted.

This does not mean that fathers should become heartless and oppressive, as strong ones are commonly portrayed. They need to show their children that they see a great person in the child. If they don’t push their children to achieve their potential without excuses and whining, the children will think that they are currently all they can ever become. As they grow up, the child will become comfortable in their mediocrity. They will see excuses as a way of explaining who they are. It will become a way of life for them. The sad result will be a society full of under-achievers, fighting each other for the dregs handed to them.

A society of strong, masculine fathers can change this. They will teach their children to develop discipline and will, resulting in a strong moral character. It will teach them how to know what they love and care about the most and fight for it with all of their awesome strength. It will teach them that if they fail, they can look into themselves to know the reason. Their discipline will push them to try (and try) again, with the knowledge gained leading to eventual success.

And success and happiness are what all fathers wish for their children.


4 Responses to “On Fatherhood”

  1. Patrick McCleary Says:

    Wow! You have completely summed up how I feel. Also you have provided me with insight because I didn’t know that this was how I felt. Long have I been unable to put my thoughts into words.
    Thanks and Blessed Be!

  2. Morninghawk Says:

    I’m glad you could relate to it. Fathers like us seem to be in the minority, especially in the Pagan world. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Hans Says:

    I agree with your healthy, balanced viewpoint on fatherhood, though I see one possible “danger” in it. Some men hope that their sons will be all that they are not, or that they will be all that they were. Pride in a son’s accomplishments is one thing, but basking in a son’s accomplishments and living off those accomplishments in a vicarious way isn’t a good thing. Nor is a father’s pushing a son towards excellence in a certain area because he, the father, excelled likewise. Some parents were losers (however defined) as children, and it’s wrong for them to expect their children to somehow compensate for this, and to be pushed for the wrong reasons. Also, if being sensitive isn’t part of fathering, what is a father to do with a son who prefers art and poetry to football and hunting?

  4. Morninghawk Says:

    There is always a risk that a parent (either father or mother) can try to live their dreams through their children. Unfortunately, there are many families who are in this situation. They push their kids to do certain activities or act in a certain way because that is what they wanted to do as a child.

    The key to avoiding this is to keep in mind that the child’s will is their own. They must do what their free will tells them to do, not what the parent’s will is.

    When I was growing up, I hated football and all masculine contact sports. I was more interested in writing and art. I have a Bachelor’s degree in art, so I can relate to your situation.

    A father must also contain all four pillars of the Witches Square himself, including the feminine ones. Our society today wants them to only have the feminine pillars of love and trust. In their push to be more masculine, fathers need to retain the feminine pillars within, while being strong with the masculine pillars.

    The biggest challenge, and mystery, of fatherhood is to find the balance point with all four parts of the Witches Square and promote it in all of their children. This is extremely difficult for one person to do, which is a reason why it’s best to have two parents who embody the masculine and feminine forces (regardless of their physical sex).

    The feminine parent can focus more on promoting the feminine pillars and the masculine parent can focus more on the masculine pillars. The mystery is to balance these with the need to also develop an equal balance of all four pillars.

    The other challenge a father has is that in pushing his children to excel, he needs to not only see their potential, but also their true limits. There is a point that if a father pushes his children too far, it can cause either emotional or physical damage. It is similar to a sports coach. He needs to know how many reps the players should do in training, but not ask them to do so many that it causes injury. The challenge in this is pushing enough, but not too much.

    Fatherhood is not an easy job.

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

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