Because Blogger's "Adult warning" often goes into a perpetual loop (isn't working properly), I will be making all new posts at my WordPress blog. You can follow it even if you do not have a WordPress Account. There're also my Twitter and my Tumblr blog, my Facebook and my Google+ page and my group.
(Update: Blogger hasn't fixed its problem with the "adult warning". Will go back to posting at my WordPress blog)

Saturday, August 14, 2010


One of the dysfunctional things our version of male culture does is to make it seem that fathers must be ogres. "Just wait till your father gets home!" -- and the child dreads the homecoming of his dad, and the dad dreads the punishing he's pushed into.

Yet my experience of fathers -- mine, and being a dad myself -- is quite different. I know how much my father loved me and my sisters, and how much he loved his grandchildren. I love my children so much it's impossible to describe. And I loved them from day one, in fact, in the case of my daughter, from when I heard her heartbeat through the stethoscope long before she was born. Tenderness and insensate love and affection are what I think of when I think of fatherhood. It's ironic -- is it not? -- that we use the verb "mother" in a quite different sense to the verb "father". Fathering a child means you just pressed the button. Mothering it means so much more. And that's all wrong. "Fatherly" gets it right, though, so all is not lost.

Sam de Brito's latest blog post is about the myth of the stern, unloving, harsh Victorian and Edwardian father. Some of the comments are interesting, about how many fathers in the mid-twentieth century were harsh and brutal. It seems clear that the dictates of the culture of maleness have made it hard for many men to be tender towards their children. It's seen as a sign of weakness, a flaw. Real men do not have warm, tender feelings. Not even towards their children. But what a horrible space to live in, if you are the father or the child!

I remember when I came back from a year's stay in England to visit my parents and I hugged my dad. I'd realised now that I was a father what a good father he'd been, and how much I loved him. And he was totally embarrassed: an old-school man, he'd been brought up that it was unseemly to show your emotions. I never hugged him again, and I wonder now whether he wished I did.

(The photo comes from here)


Anonymous said...

Selfless fathercraft is beautiful.

"Once upon a time a young boy stole his rich father's money and ran away from home so that he could enjoy life. But, once the money was gone, he had to beg to survive, becoming used to the poor and miserable life.
His father, however, had never stopped looking for him. The boy's father had become even richer, with a house full of gold and silver, many employees, cattle and elephants. Many years later, the father was in town in his magnificent and luxurious wagon, surrounded by his servants, when he saw his son begging in the streets. He immediately asked his security officers to get him, but the son, not knowing that rich man's intention, was very scared and said he had not committed any crime. So, the father released him.
The next day the father sent his employees to the young man to offer him a job. The son, still not aware that the rich man was his father, accepted the job right away, as he was starving. This is when he started working as a janitor, in a very low ranking job, but he needed that job so much that he did his best. Soon, he was so good at what he did that he was promoted to a better position at the rich man's property. Again, the young man did his best and it didn't take long for him to be respected for his hard work by other employees and one more time, he was promoted to an even better position, inside the rich man's house.
One day, the rich man became very sick and knowing that his death was near, he gathered all servants and employees in a room, including his son. "Young man" he said, "I am your father and you've proven that you deserve everything that has always been yours, now take it, all this belongs to you."

Nigel said...

The Buddhist version of the prodigal son. I didn't know it.