I have met so many young men struggling with how to be a good father. They have the potential to be both great people and great fathers. But for whatever reason they are struggling to find their way. Whether they come from broken homes with deadbeat dads, or just dads that didn't know how to be great fathers or for any other reasons it is not their fault. All that they needed was a guide.
Yet who am I to offer advice on this topic? I am a father of two beautiful young girls; one seven and the other three. I am also divorced once and am now engaged to a wonderful, supportive, and beautiful woman. So since I have been a father for seven years and have worked through the trials and tribulations of raising children; Worked hard to establish traditions rooted in love and not in duty, hopefully I am somewhat qualified to comment and offer my advice on one of the ways to be not just a dad but a great dad who happens to be pagan.
So what exactly is it that separates a Dad from a Great Father? Almost any man can be a dad, all that is involved in that is enough sex to make a woman pregnant and then the child being carried to term and being born and voila the male becomes a dad. But a father, much less a great father, is involved in that child or children's personal life in a overwhelmingly positive manner. Yet so many men today are either afraid or don't know how to be whole and complete men. A man must be strong but merciful, stern but fair, no longer is it acceptable for men to be hard-asses nor should it be acceptable for men to be complete pansies and pushovers. But a strong willed man is often times feared, crucified and turned into a pariah by the women around him. And so it is often times for fathers that want the best for and out of their kids. I set my standards high for my children, hoping that they can reach that level but being comfortable with them in the meantime only reaching a half or even a quarter of this goal, as long as they continue to strive for excellence. And I am often told that I am to hard and that kids need to be kids. Yet I feel that I give them room to play and express themselves but I insist that they must learn manners and how they are expected to act while in a public place.
A lot of these comments are the result of the perception of Fathers and Men in todays culture. This perception is exceedingly negative. We are ridiculed as stupid and bumbling. The brunt of women's jokes. Yet at the same time a male is a predator. He is a nasty, vicious, hateful bigot/racist/rapist/fill in the blank. I guess the only ones who are not killing people are the ones to stupid to operate a gun or knife.
I have seen in my own life a man who is strong willed and confident in himself be lambasted by the women around him, even complete strangers. I have seen him called sexist, macho (since when was that a bad term?), egotistical, among many other things. Why is it that a strong willed man is perceived as a threat? There are bad men among us but I believe that the large portion of the problems facing us from deranged males is caused by their upbringing. If you tell a child that he is not needed by the opposite sex and in the next breath tell him that he should stop acting like a girl, what is he supposed to think and feel? If he steps out of line then you medicate him, instead of training and helping him to work through his feelings, therefore emotionally castrating him. Unable to express more than a very limited range of emotions. On the worst case he is violent and angry, on the best case he is a sobbing emotional wreck, quick to cry at every bad turn in his life. This emotional wreck is the one that stays home with Mom until he is forty, he is the one that one day because he can't afford his meds and can't control himself without them, snaps and kills a school full of people. And yes they make that choice but if you treat a child like a helpless baby and coddle him (or her) their entire life and are always there to solve their problems for them, then by definition they are codependent and unable to solve their own problems.
It is our roles as Fathers and Men to recognize this baggage in ourselves, and through faith in the Goddess and God (or whatever it is that you believe in), and through support groups if necessary, to overcome this programming, to be independent and able to make our own decisions. I used to be one of these men, quick to anger and quick to cry unable to face my problems, unable, in many cases, to even express how I felt. This cost me my first marriage but now that I have learned how to express myself with words and not through anger it has enabled me to have a serious long term relationship that is strong and continues to grow. And when we overcome our childhood training then we must teach this independence and freedom to our sons and to any and all of our friends that our ready to listen.
Now don't think that I am going to leave out the daughters of the world. We as fathers and men have a responsibility there also. They learn from us how they are supposed to be treated in their future (or current) relationships. We must teach them independence and not that they don't need men (as is often the message to little girls) but that they don't need anything or anyone in their lives that is unhealthy for them. They can have men in their lives and have deep relationships without fear as long as they seek those relationships with men that have grown up and have become true men.
So to sum up what I have said about fatherhood; A father helps to establish traditions that bring the family together and helps to hold them together. He teaches them right from wrong, teaches morality, strength and love. He is there to love and teach love. He hopefully is able to bring light into their lives and to show them that they can bring light to others through kindness. And he is also supposed to give them a basic roadmap and a how-to (if you will) of their spirituality. Not to define their faith, but to give them tools so that when they get older they can find their own faith.
So what other types of males are there? Well in my opinion the males of the world can be divided into three categories. You have boys, young males who play and have their toys and don't know how to act responsible, they are too young. Then you have guys, they are legally adults but still act like boys, they should know how to act responsible but for whatever reason they do not. They often fall into the negative stereotypes that is applied to all grown men. They are often the sexist bigots that we so often hear about. But finally you have men, a small minority of males who are true adults, able to express themselves coherently, calm and confident they are often perceived as egotistical and too macho. But they are in most cases simply trying to live their lives, trying to raise their families with the same sense of ethics and morals that they carry with them. They are stern but kind, hard but loving, strong-willed but understanding, has deep convictions but is open to compromise as long as he does not have to sell himself out.
So my challenge to you the reader is to look at yourself. What category do you fall into? What category do you wish you fell into? Ask this question of yourself whether you are a father or are going to be a father or even if you are neither; for facing yourself is the first step to being a complete human being. Hopefully since you found your way here and actually read this article to the end, you are seeking to be a real man. Complete and true. So I wish you all luck and blessings and a safe journey.
Just an FYI this site will be going down for maintenance in the next couple of hours. Should be up by tomorrow. I apologize for any incovenience.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Role of a Pagan Father