Fathers get a bad rap. Every year I notice less and less attention to Father's Day or ads that show BBQ grills with Dad doing all the grilling. Moms get pampered and the "day off" (which they should) but Dads get to grill for the family. Hmmm. See my point? Before you close this blog, bare with me. I get it. Many of us haven't had a great role model. Dads have historically been the silent parent, the parent who was hardly ever home, the absent parent. There is a reason why many feel less than fuzzy about Father's Day. However, this focuses on the negative and completely dismisses all the great dads in the world. Regardless of your experience, we can agree to be happy for the good ones, and celebrate them for one day, no?
If you think humans have the market on weird relationships with dads, think again. Males have an interesting role to play in life. in many species, they are the larger of the two sexes, the more colorful or beautiful, and they carry something very important......the seed to continue their family line. Ah yes, the reason males are so sex-driven stems from the need to procreate and ensure the survival of the species. It's that simple. Humans complicate it with EGO.
This isn't sounding like much of an advocacy for dads, is it? Stick with me. I'm getting there. In some species, after assuring their lineage is protected, they leave. ( I would love a documentary that follows these males to see what they do with their life in between mating seasons.) In many species and even some indigenous tribes, young males are sent out on their own to experience life and learn how to survive. This is done to ensure strength, wisdom, decision making, and ingenuity are traits passed on to future generations. The survivors also learn about themselves and learn to rely on their own instincts. They learn to make their own decisions and stand on their own two (or four) feet. In today's society, this is not done. Not really. College should be a time of learning and self -discovery, but has become more of a party trap. The military is another avenue, but independent thinking is not really encouraged. I am not suggesting we send out young men out i to the wild, but I do recognize the wisdom in the ritual. Young males stay with their group until they are old enough to venture forth to find their own group (ex: the elephants).In other species, the male sticks around to protect the family and act as the leader and law maker for the family (ex: lions, wolves). So some males stay, some go, some are active in the discipline of the young, some provide security, etc. Depending on the species, males have different roles and different levels of involvement.
Humans expect all of those different roles to be rolled up in one neat little package called Dad, Papa, Babo, Da, just to name a few. That is a lot. Some people find it easy to tap into all these different traits and some excel in only some areas. Some may not know themselves enough to know what they excel at, or what they want. In humans, the rebellious teenage years would be, in the wild, when they leave the tribe/herd. This is the human male trying to figure out who he is and what type of person he wants to be. It is important to give everyone time to find out. Back to dads now.
Regardless of the type of dad you have, there can always be something to be thankful for or to celebrate. Without the male, there would not be reproduction. That’s a good start! What you do with that life, is up to you. Take a moment to think about your dad, biological or otherwise. What can you learn from him? What have you learned from him? If you can't think of anything for whatever reason, realize that you may have learned "what not to do", instead of "what to do", and that has just as much value.
The bottom line is we all (humans and animals alike) need both perspectives and influences. Our young look to their grown-ups to learn about life and learn how to behave. As a single mom (truly single, their dad was not involved in any way), I often wished I could embody a male perspective. I did my very best, but often said to myself "that's not in my memories" or "I don't know how to be a guy, and don’t have male experiences other than what I observed". I did my best. I did what I thought were traditional father things to do, but it didn't come naturally to me. That was my experience. Someone else may have a completely different take on it; neither is right or wrong. It is what it is. My point is that from my lack, I saw the value fathers have in the world. I appreciate them all because of it.
Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful men with children, human or fur! Keep showing up, keep being involved, and keep providing your special wisdom, experience, and love.