Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fatherhood and Manliness

For many men fathering a child is proof of their manhood. To get a girl pregnant makes them feel macho. But these "macho men" forget that fathers are supposed to provide their son or daughter with a model of how to live.

In a novel by Chuck Palahniuk called "Fight Club," a group of young men in their twenties and early thirties with dead-end jobs meet in the basement of a bar and beat each other senseless to relieve their boredom. This activity makes them feel like warriors showing off their black eyes and stitches as badges of honor. The common thread these young men have is that they are under-fathered, the product of divorce and of fathers who had no time for them.

The main character says: "I am a thirty-year-old boy....I knew my dad for about six years but I don't remember anything.... What you see at the fight club is a generation of men raised by women."

Consider the recent killings across school campuses in the United States, and one wonders where is the father image? The shocking fact is that the majority of violent crimes are committed by young men between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five. In a recent book by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, her research confirmed that the absence of fathers is one of the strongest predictors of violence among men. The end result is that when young boys are left alone to grow up, many become destructive forces either to themselves, their families, or society.

Who is a young boy to turn to for guidance when his father is absent? Who will teach him how to mingle with other men and treat women in a civilized manner respecting each other? Where is the male outstretched hand for the youngster to grab when he falls down. Men have qualities that must be passed on to young boys that can come only from fathers.

The end for domestic violence will come when real and responsible friendships between men and women return to the highest fulfillment of which all people are capable--moral and intellectual virtues that are the same for men and women at their peaks. Both genders must recognize the diverse qualities that men and women contribute to their children. Fathers who fail to understand them are not fathers but "breeders" only.

We need to return to traditional teachings stressing that men and women share what is good in life. The best way of convincing men to teach their sons manly virtues is to educate them in those traditional virtues of character. We must somehow reach out to all fathers and remind them that his son will soon be a father also. A father is a man when he reaches out and teaches his son the qualities of manhood. Lucky is the son who has a father.

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