Role model progams desperately needed
I may be generalizing and idealizing a little too much, but the way I see it is that mothers have the primary function of making a child secure in life through unconditional love while the father's role is that of a teacher preparing the child to cope with the society within which it was born.
A father's love should be guided by principles and expectations; it should be patient and tolerant, rather than threatening and authoritarian. It should give the growing child an increasing sense of competence and eventually permit the youngster to become its own authority and to dispense with that of the father. Eventually, the mature person comes to the point where he/she has become free of the outside mother and father figures and has built them up inside. In contrast to Freud's concept of the super-ego, however, the child has built them inside not by incorporating mother and father, but by building a motherly conscience on its own capacity for love and a fatherly conscience based on his reason and judgment. (You'll no doubt need to read the forgoing at least one more time to grasp the essence of it.)
This all sets the stage for me to go off on a personal tangent.
I think that there is general agreement that studies, magazines, books and TV documentaries have helped women meet the changing demands of motherhood in recent years. They have been instrumental in teaching techniques of child care and examining the needs of both children and mothers. They offer advice, sympathy, humor and counselling while providing challenge and inspiration for being a mother.
Now look at men's magazines for instance: sports, business, investment, seduction, hobbies -- but nothing to help a man be a father to a son or daughter. Let's face it, being a father today is not easy and it does not always come naturally. The old techniques just no longer apply. Once upon a time, a son worked by his father's side, sharing the satisfactions and the frustrations, the successes and failures of the field, the barn, the shop or store.
What model does a father follow today? Some fathers still choose the army model, demanding discipline and obedience. Others choose to be pals, playing street hockey or swapping teeenage jokes, being just one of the guys. Still others do not involve themselves much one way or the other, leaving parenting pretty much to the mother. Then of course, there is the other side of the gender coin -- daughters, bless their hearts. Confused by the complexity of fathering a daughter, many dad's simply choose to back off completely when their girls reach the teenage stage. More and more I think there is a genuine fear of vulnerability -- of not understanding, of making a mistake.
So how does a father fulfil what is expected of him? Where does he turn when self help is needed and desired? It is not a laughing matter. I truly believe fathers need help today more than ever. Consider too, increasing cases of single parent families where mothers are required to take on the unnatural role of fathering as well.
It is time our society took fatherhood more seriously. Government, service clubs, churches, community and business organizations, the media, should all be discussing this subject with the goal of establishing educational programs for desperate fathers who want to do the right thing in raising their children.
It cannot be taken for granted that every father will turn out to be as lucky as me.