We praise motherhood every day, yet we rarely do the same for fatherhood. From an adult’s perspective, the reasons might be many, but from a child’s perspective I reckon that things are different: do kids feel more connected to their mothers or fathers, and if so, why? Today it’s Father’s Day and I feel the need to share some thoughts on fatherhood: this is an ode to an underestimated parental group, from a matured child perspective.
A father’s presence is transformational for any offspring. As an argument, I would like to share a personal recent experience. A while back, my father read one of my edits for the first time. Thanks to Google translate, he was able to overcome the language barrier that was preventing him from peaking into my scribbles. As I watched him scroll, unfolding sides of me he always seemed to dismiss, I caught an unknown feeling: for the first time I felt exposed. Did this mean that even through writing, one of my purest outlets, I was asking for his validation? This possibility terrified me. Could, would, or should I ever be free of my father’s colossal influence on me?
Five years of therapy felt like going down the drain on a snap. I felt shocked at how susceptible I was to the slightest possibility of his disapproval. Thankfully, this thought lingered for only a moment, even if it felt like a long, heavy one. Definitely, this was not what I wanted to keep as a learning from this story. On the contrary, I choose to take a step back and focus on why I feel like this. The answer is simple: no matter how many years have passed, I will always see my father as a kid, with the same purity I used to see him back then. His opinion will be important, even if I scream differently, his impact will be present, even if he is not around.
When it comes to love, kids are more likely to love unconditionally; they are so pure, that compatibility hasn’t yet become an obstacle the way it does in adult relationships. Feelings of security, acceptance, encouragement, can create a healthy framework of love for kids, from mothers and fathers alike. This effort can result in a fruitful, strong emotional relationship with a child, surpassing their childhood and following them for life. Kids will love their parents no matter what, but they might as well be taught to love them well, and love themselves better.
As a child, I must admit, I felt more supported by my mother. Nonetheless, I can’t blame my father for lack of support because I now know that he did support me best to his own capacity. Could I tell this back then? No. Did I ever love him less than my mother? Absolutely not. Despite the communicational obstacles, I always adored my father, simply because he was my father. The same goes for my mother, who I always adored simply because she was my mother. As you can imagine, I always adored my parents simply because they were my parents. This doesn’t make me any different from other kids, as most of them love their parents simply because they are their parents.
As I grew older and delved deeper into the matter with the help of my therapist, I tried to disengage from my biases and see things from a social perspective. Sadly, I noticed that, when I was a kid, the social expectations on fatherhood were basic, if not nonexistent–remember, we are talking about late 80s. I wonder, if society neither expects nor acknowledges a group or the importance of its social contribution, how could this group ever establish their identity, assume ownership of actions, form a community and proliferate from one another?
Social incentivisation can impact massively our evolution as a species. In this modality, by acknowledging a group we can encourage their amelioration, thus create a more circular relationship with one another: positive input can drive positive output. This is something already happening in our society with notable results on most cases. Speaking of fatherhood, I am relieved to see friends of my generation who have become fathers to fully acknowledge the importance of their role and enjoy the journey. Unless we, as a society, had collectively done this acknowledgment already, it would be way harder for them to fully assume their parental responsibilities.
In theory, as the sexes explore each other’s perspective deeper, parents can offer more to their children like never. My father might have been limited also due to social expectations, because I am certain of his emotional depth, as well as I am certain of his difficulty to express it–honestly, how could he ever, if all he learned as a child was that “men don’t cry”? Still, the learnings he has offered me have been pivotal for my evolution. If my mother taught me how to be with others, my father taught me how to be with myself, utterly independent and resourceful at any level of contingencies, and that is a foundational need of any being.
Ultimately, I feel that humans carry both male and female energy; our parents, among other practicalities, teach us how to handle them to their best capacity. Who-does-what, is completely subjective, meaning that, as we grow our perception of sexes, we see that female teachings can come by men, as well as male teachings can come by women. Freeing our minds from the traditional expectation of origins of learnings, can unleash our capacity of understanding each other, and allow us to evolve at an unprecedented speed.
Before I close, I would like to admit that it’s been a regretfully long time since my last edit; apologies. The past two months have been extremely busy, yet so rewarding. As I slowly ease back into my rituals, I intend to resume my writing as well, on a bimonthly if not on a weekly basis. Since April, I have changed a job, a house, a country, almost a life, to be honest. It has been a challenging period, but also didactic. Through such experiences, we learn how to re-appreciate or re-establish our support system, thus strengthening our self-confidence and our bonds with others. Of course, this calls for thorough introspection–ha! My favorite.
As I continue this journey into the cognitive unknown, I will definitely keep you posted. For today, I would like to dedicate my edit to my father and all other dads out there who feel unappreciated and always behind the scenes of motherhood: remember that we love you as much as we love our mothers. You are equally important to us, our upbringing, society at large. Be fragile with us, as we are fragile with you. Be understanding with us, as we are understanding with you. Because you are unique to us, as we are unique to you. Have a lovely Sunday.
self-parenting: igniting a foundational spiritual spring, liberalvirtue
The marvel of the human dad, Aeon