Being an avid people watcher, it is with much delight that I am happy to share this particular observation. It is that of the growing epidemic of men showing affection for their children. The difference that the current crop of dads with young children and the way I was fathered is chalk and cheese.
Oh, don’t get me wrong! Both my dad and my step-dad loved me. I knew that. But when it came to sharing a moment between father and child, it was more of a pat on the head than a big squishy hug.
Do you know what makes me uncomfortable? When you see fathers and sons shake hands after an absence apart. It seems a little weird to me. So formal. Cold. Like a business meeting.
We grew up with a Lebanese family as very close friends, and I will never forget how their sons greeted their father each day with a kiss. It is the custom of their country and one I think we need to explore. Male to male cheek kissing should be mainstream, not just accepted in the Middle East.
I have quite a lot of male gay friends, and they greet their mates like this.
But back to showing affection to our kids. This summer I have spent much time at the beach, and my observations are thus.
Lots of dads toddler wrangling. As midday draws near, the toddler starts chucking a wobbly. Father collects up their things quickly, comforts tantrum chucking toddler before popping them up on their shoulders to take them home, where no doubt the mother in this scenario is enjoying some quiet time alone.
Lots of dads loading the car up with surfboards, before filling the car to capacity with a collection of kids, not necessarily their own, and taking them surfing.
Lots of dads spending lots of time with their sons, fishing from the rocks, riding bikes. Talking.
Of course, this is a generalization, but I suspect the modern father is a part of the cultural change of the modern man. I spoke with a friend about it this week, a father of two lively young daughters. And he told me…
“Once you have seen a baby crown, it is the gateway to becoming an emotional man. Having said that though, it doesn’t mean you are going to be a domestic god.”
My dad was not in the delivery room when I was born. It simply wasn’t done back then. Did this mean that he is not an emotional man? Of course not! He howls when his team loses, weeps when he runs out of beer and gets moody when I don’t return his calls.
My step-dad grew up in a very formal household, where one walked about with a stiff upper lip. Children were seen and not heard. He was never told “I love you..” by anyone. He married my mum and immediately was surrounded by affection, which I really never think he got used to. He is a grand hand-shaker.
The father of my kids is both physically and emotionally affectionate. He will hug and kiss them, absentmindedly hold hands with them. Throw them on the bed and rumble with them, and not get angry when he accidentally cops a knee in the nuts. He will listen to them read for hours. He takes them out every afternoon for some sort of challenge or physical acidity. He will watch Lady Gaga concerts at the drop of a hat and even do the girls new hairstyles. He is a solid father in all areas.
And most certainly NOT a domestic god! (Mind you, neither am I.)
Who is this smug woman? What sort of bubble is she living in?
Oh, I know that this is the rule, not the exception. There are plenty of deadshit fathers out there. We all know of at least one. But looking back at the patriarchal style of the fatherhood of the past, and to where we are now, the future looks bright for the next generation.
What was your father like?