Friday, July 26, 2013

Redefining the role of Fathers

This past week, I caught an episode of Oprah's Lifeclass on the subject matter of "Fatherless Sons". I thought it was very interesting regarding the experience of fatherhood. In it, they addressed ways a father can connect with his children; how men can tap into their nurturing energy; and how to become more emotionally available to children.

I really believe that all men have a nurturing energy - a "fatherhood" energy that is waiting to be ignited. Many men are not raised to express their emotions and this is why it takes them longer to tap into this energy.

In our global society (which includes both Western & Indian cultures), men are seen as the provider, and women are seen as the nurturer. In Asian cultures, it's that on steroids!

When men become fathers, it is common to have a delayed bond with the baby, as they have just received this child - not like the woman who has been already getting to know the baby's rhythms from inside the womb, and a natural mothers' instinct that is harnessed during pregnancy. It is the mother who has to grow the child within her, birth the child, and then breastfeed the child; while the father is just a bystander during this major developmental and bonding time. Many men do not have a mother's instinct, and they do not know how to harness a nurturing energy towards a child. The biggest mistake women & mothers can make is to leave the fathers out of it, or critique the father's developing bond. They are 9 months behind in catching up, and should only be encouraged to bond and parent in their own way.

It also touched on men being emotionally available to their family. It doesn't matter if you're physically present - it matters if you're emotionally available. Many men are not taught how to express their emotions, or even how to interact without anger.


- In order to heal our children, we must first heal the boy's heart beating inside our men. Heal our men = you heal the land.

- As soon as a boy child can stand up and establish a sense of self, they express anger. Men have been raised to have no emotional capacity to express emotions.

- Men are not a different species. They are human too. Every man has been taught to "stop crying" or stop expressing emotions.

- Role of a father is to establish structure in the household; kind, loving, disciplinarian; saying to wife & children "I will protect you".

- There is a male energy in life & kids need this [father role model] to "lift them up off their feet".

- Men need to learn how to be tender with their children.

- Ways a father can participate: pick your child up from school; cook a meal together; take a day off work and go on a school trip; go to parent/teacher conferences; visit the school; go to a school performance; attend graduation; teach your child something you love.
(I would also add to this list: read a book to your child, do arts and crafts with them, take them to a museum, take them to the beach, go shopping together, go for brunch together - and mothers should encourage fathers and children to have lots of one-on-one time).

The two dominant men in my childhood were my father and my paternal grandfather. My grandfather used to take me ice skating and taught me how to ride a bike. My father used to drop me/pick me from school, take me to brunch on Sunday, take me to the aquarium "just because" and go swimming with me and chase me in the water. One of my sweetest memories after I became a teenager was going shopping with my father, who used to pick out my perfume - he picked out Marc Jacobs because it "smelled young and flirty", which made me feel like he was accepting of my transition to a woman and not ashamed of my growing feminine energy. His nurturing as an emotionally present father made me feel confident in my own skin.

Here are some videos from the segment:


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