WE are always told that fatherhood is the greatest experience of a man’s life, full of smiles, laughter and camera moments. We are told that we need only be ourselves and the role of being a father will come naturally.
That is - until we become fathers. Then everything changes, and our parents never miss an opportunity to tell us how to be better fathers. The moment of being a father often gets us by surprise, keeping us constantly on our heels, feeling uncomfortable over our new title, loosing touch with our purpose in life, forcing us to fumble our way through fatherhood.
As a result of this feeling of inadequacy, more and more of us have given up on the old-school notion of the traditional father. But who can blame us? Often ridiculed and seen as second-class parents, fathers have always had to fight to prove their worth to the family unit. In fact, our worth is so questioned that some people even jokingly refer to fathers as a “necessity” but at the same time an “accident”.
While the fathers of old left us with a legacy of bringing toughness to the family structure, many fathers today have found it easier, and less antagonistic to smooth out their rough edges, soften their hard ways, become what I call indirectly take on the role of mothers. These men take their queues on how to be a good father from their lady. This is especially true boys who have historically watched their mothers play a strong role in raising children and defining the roles of others within their family after being abandoned by their fathers.
Without the maternal connection that comes with months of labor, and hours of giving birth, fathers are primed for the makeover. After all, the very things that society has deemed important in parenting are normally vacant in a father. There’s nothing soft about a father’s touch, not much gentle about his careses, not much soothing about his voice.
When all is said and done, what a father has that is uniquely his own is his masculinity. To a child, a father has always been a protector, a supporter. To a child, a father has always been a provider and even a nurturer. To a child, no one is stronger, no one bigger, no one can scare away monsters better than daddy. To a child, a father is the ultimate shield from evil, guardian of safety, keeper of comfort.
So why not appreciate and that masculine role more deeply?
Fatherhood can only be a “accident” if Fathers let it. In an effort to invent new models of behavior for us to emulate, society sometimes not only forces us to lose who we are, but causes the child to lose an invaluable part of his or her healthy growth. Male traits, attitudes, and tendencies (even being a potato-couch while watch soccer and playing video games tendency that we possess) have their purpose in a family.
Men bring their basic natures to the family, just as women do. Who’s to say which is more useful, more important? Fathers should feel free to follow their male instincts. Men should become even more aware and not less of their maleness after becoming a fathers. Fathers don’t have to be “second mothers” to be important in a child’s development.
So what if a father feeds the baby a little differently than the mother does. So what if he prefers giving knee bounces to singing lullabies. So what if he sees nothing terrible in putting holding the baby and taking the baby for a walk. So what if he plays a little rough with the baby, uses incorrect grammar when talking baby talk or forgets to put the bib on at feeding time.
So, even though Father’s Day passed this last Sunday, I kindly request fathers to harden so as to resolve and define their role as fathers, to show that their worth as men is important in the raising of healthy children, to put more father in fatherhood. If they just be themselves, and don’t give in to societal pressures to be something they’re not, more of them would see fatherhood for what it is. An institution of honor and dignity. And in its rawest form, they would see it as a great complement to motherhood.