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Things Every Dad Should Teach His Son
Not seeing your father when you are small, never being with him, having a remote father, a workaholic father, is an injury - Robert Bly. Bly's concise statement is so pertinent to those of us with work addictions. We know we repeat various behaviors that we learned from our fathers - and that, as Bly states, injures us. If we are deprived of love, warmth, and a connection with our fathers, we are bound to repeat that behavior - we see value only in work. We saw our father work ceaselessly, so we believe deeply that we have no value unless we immerse ourselves in the same way. I do not want to pass along the legacy of the workaholic to my son. I will be accessible and demonstrate my love to him. Meditations For Men Who Do Too Much
As a dad, you're a role model for your son. You show him
how to be a man -- and how not to be. "Your son's
masculinity will be shaped by how involved you are,"
confirms psychologist Michael J. Diamond, PhD, author of My
Father Before Me: How Fathers and Sons Influence Each Other
Throughout Their Lives.
A toy is a toy is a toy. It's really that simple.
"Now, how do you think a dad feels when his son wants to get this?"
That's the question YouTuber and proud dad Mikki Willis asked viewers, while holding a mermaid doll in a video posted online on Aug. 23, 2015, his son, Azai, trying not to smile in the background.
Some dads wouldn't be cool with their sons playing with Little Mermaid dolls or, you know, playing with dolls at all. But after a few chuckles, both Willis and Azai yell happily, "Yeah!"
Willis decided to support his son's decision to get whatever toy he wanted, without letting gender stereotyping get in the way. And judging by the outpouring of support in the video's comments section he's not alone in encouraging his son to like what he likes, stereotypes be damned.
The video which Willis captured after a trip to the toy store for Azai to swap out one of his birthday presents is gathering steam online. In just about two days, it's already garnered more than 236,000 views.
I'd say that's no coincidence, seeing as it touches on one very hot topic.
Gender stereotyping in toys is one issue making waves right now.
Just this month, retail giant Target announced it was phasing out boy-girl references throughout its stores in sections where "suggesting products by gender is unnecessary," such as toys, kids' bedding, and entertainment.
"There is no 'boy side' or 'girl side' to childhood," Melissa Atkins Wardy, a children's retail expert and business owner, told Upworthy in support of Target's decision. "Why would we tell a kid they can't like cars or pirates or fairies or pink? Go for it, kid."
Willis would agree why limit what toys his son should and should not enjoy?
Willis explained that he wasn't at all surprised when Azai selected the mermaid toy.
"Many are asking me, 'How did you feel the moment Azai
chose that doll?'" he wrote in the video's description. "The
honest answer is, it didn't surprise me at all. Azai is
equally fascinated by princesses and robots."
If you and/or your kids like to wear "No Fear" clothing, we'd like you think about it. The Samurai knows fear. If he didn't he might make a dumb mistake that would lead to his unnecessary deaf. We challenge those who want to teach our children not to feel fear. It's more than just a marketing campaign for a clothing line. It's an effort, knowlingly or unknowingly, to desensitize children so that they can be manipulated into doing things against their inherent nature. Children who are encouraged not to feel all feelings develop into dysfunctional adults.
It all started for me at a major wrestling championship in Southern California. There were lots of "No-fear" t-shirts and caps around. The air-brusher was busy putting "No Fear" on the back of event t-shirts along with cartoon bulldogs with fangs and puffed out muscles and other such images. Many of the end users were thin, small muscled boys getting ready to "be tough". Well, I decided to have my own t-shirt designed and wear it for the remainder of the event. It read, "No Fear, No Tears, Die Numb." I had a number of parents and young wrestlers thank me for reminding them about the value and importance of fear - how ignoring it or pushing it out of the way can create unnecessary dangers. How the great Samari know fear and don't hide form it but bring it out in front, put it on the end of their sword, and cut with it. The design we offer is an improvement on the original air-brushed design. From there, I designed a second one to change the emphasis from "No Fear" to "Know Fear". You can down-load the individual design for the back of a t-shirt or a whole sheet of smaller logos that you can print-out, cut up into individual iron-ons to put on the front of a t-shirt where a breast pocket would go and give the others to friends to do the same. We also offer a FREE 6 3/4 x 3" "Know Fear" bumper sticker. Send a SASE to: The National Men's Resource Center, PO Box 800, San Anselmo, CA 94979.
In the words of Hannah Arendt, "Fear is an emotion indispensable for survival." All feelings are good - fear, pain, sadness, joy and anger. It's the behaviors that we use to demonstrate the feelings that need to be looked out. For instance, anger is a feeling. Violence is not a feeling. It is a behavior. There are many other ways anger can be expressed that are healthy yet non-violent. So, it is the behaviors we need to work with. Think about it! And, make your t-shirt today!
If you have a son over 15 have him check this information out so he can learn this simple self exam for testicular cancer Side1 Side2. It is amoung the easiest cancers to cure when detected early, yet 700 young men will die from it this yeaer. A once-a-month simple self-examination can help catch this cancer at its early stage. This guide can be down-loaded in its entirity or you can send for a water-proff guide that can hang on your shower head at home or school. (The best time to examine yourself is while taking a shower or bath. The warm water casues the skin to relax, making the examination of the underlying tissue easier.) If you would like a monthly remind to do the exam, sign-up for our free service at: www.egroups.com/group/menstuff-testicular-exam. It could be a life saver.
Facts on Gangs: What every chitizen should know. Provides information on signs of possible gang involovement, how to protect your children, what you can do plus answers to the 7 most frequently asked questions. $3 each.
Safe Dating Guide: The body is special. In order to safeguard yourself, you must avoid high-risk situations. This is a guide to reduce dating risks, provides come-backs to common lines you may hear or say, and provides facts you should know about date rape. $3 each.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases Education Guide: This guide provides myths and facts about STDs, the cause and symptoms, diagnosis and treatement, and prevention information for the 10 major diseases. For anyone who is sexually active or thinking about becoming sexual. $3 each.
AIDS Education Guide: Includes the answers to the top 15 questions about AIDS plus Condom Do's and Don'ts. $3 each.
Sources: Books - 13th
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tapes; Issues fathers
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Resources - fathers,
2. Teach him the right attitude toward women
3. Have a man-to-man conversation about love.
4. Teach him how to fight back.
5. Enrich his experience with new sensations.
6. Teach him male tricks.
7. Help him master domestic duties.
8. Help him to find his own view of the world.
I spent years hiding under the armor of sarcasm and withdrawal. When you were born, I learned that the secret of manhood is love.
The other day, I called a friend who I heard was going through a hard time.
Hey, man, I said.
Hows it going?
Good, good, he answered. (He wasnt good.) Howre you?
Good! (I was so-so.)
We chatted for a few minutes about what each of us was doing with our days, cracking jokes, studiously avoiding what we both knew to be the purpose of the call: that he was in emotional crisis, and that I was reaching out to him. Mom watched me conduct my end of the conversation with a combination of awe and horror.
What did he say? I shrugged.
How is he?
He seemed okay.
You and I have had similar conversations when Ive asked you about school, girls, your life. Shrugs, silence. Teenage omertà is nothing new, especially among boys, but I wish it didnt have to be so. You are impenetrable, almost Zen in your stillness. Everything is always fine. When I press, you joke away my questions or change the subject. Its not that Im worried about you now, exactly; its that Im worried about what you will do when things arent fine, because I know what it costs when you dont let others in.
The psychologist and author Jordan Peterson has built an enormous following by instructing his (mostly white, mostly male) acolytes that the purpose of life is to pick up your suffering and bear it.
Pain will come, he is saying, and when it does, nobody wants to hear about it. Why should your pain be any more deserving of our attention than anybody elses? Bear your pain, he says in one lecture, so when your father dies you are not whining away in the corner and you can help plan the funeral.
At my fathers funeral, I sat in the front row with my hands folded on my lap. Later, at the burial site, I watched them lower the coffin into the ground. On the trip home, I sat with my head against the car window, just the way you used to do on long trips. After a few days, I went back to school and pretended that nothing had happened. I got through it. I didnt whine.
Having tried Petersons method for most of my life, I can tell you it works only as a tourniquet. You may get through the moment, the day, the week. Eventually, though, the blood stops flowing altogether, and something in you falls away.
For years, I cultivated an entire comedic persona based on withdrawal. If you ever want to see what that looks like, go watch me on one of those VH1 I Love the shows, in which talking heads reminisce about decades gone by. My segments are all totally deadpan, unsmiling, sarcastic. They were funny (if I do say so myself), but sarcasm is a form of withdrawal. I was good at it because by that point in my life, I had invested years in learning how to act as if I didnt care about anything. What you see on TV is an exaggeration of the way I lived my life, but only a little. Back then, I had so much anger that I didnt know what to do with, so I clamped down. My release was jokes. They escaped like occasional steam puffs, shaking the lid from a boiling pot.
The more successful I became doing that, the less satisfied I felt, because I knew there was something fundamentally dishonest about it. That stone-faced person wasnt me anymore. I was recently married. I had a newborn son. Within a couple of years, I would have a daughter. The person I saw on-screen, the one who never cracked a smile, didnt seem like he was ready to be a husband and a father. Maybe he wasnt ready. I began feeling a conflict between the person I found myself portraying on television and the man I was trying to become in real life. Maybe that shouldnt have mattered; after all, actors and comedians pretend. Thats the job. But it mattered to me.
I wanted to be more open and honest in my life and in my work, which meant I had to change. Which meant I had to start asking myself some hard questions about who I was and what I valued. I had to pry apart the careful persona Id constructed. I wanted to be a better husband and father. I wanted to be a better man.
I cannot recall the number of times I wiped tears from your face when you were little. I can remember the feeling of your pudgy arms around my neck as I knelt down to you, listening to you stammer out the reasons for your pain, holding you until you felt better, wiping your snot off my shirt. Coming to me for comfort was one of the greatest gifts you ever gave to me, because it allowed me to be your dad. A dad instructs and reprimands and plays. Ive done all those things too, but comforting you felt special, the gift of extending empathy. You sharing your pain with me relieved my own terror of fathering a son. In allowing me to comfort you, you comforted me.
When my mom died a couple of years ago, I wanted to experience her loss. I knew that I did not allow myself to grieve for my father when he died, and that failing to do so had condemned me to years of excommunication from my own emotional life. For my mom, I wanted to live my mourning instead of hiding from it.
I got on a plane by myself and flew to San Diego, where Mom had lived with her lovely partner, Sandy. For three days, I folded and unfolded collapsible chairs, cleaned pastry crumbs from counters. I sat shiva and thanked people for coming and reminisced with my brother, and with Sandy and her family. I did all the things I was expected to do, dry-eyed and composed. No whining. Numb. Angry with myself for my numbness. At the end of those three days, I felt like I had failed to even mourn the way I had wanted. I had lived with the tourniquet for so long, I didnt know how to release it.
That night, I went back to my hotel room and, after a couple of hours of drinking, collapsed in tears on the floor, alone. I wish Id had the strength to share my hurt in front of other people, and I wish it hadnt taken half a bottle of vodka for me to express my hurt then.
I keep seeing myself, alone, on that flight to San Diego. Why didnt I bring you and your sister with me to say goodbye to Grandma Jill? Ive asked myself that time and again. Fear, I think, fear of being so exposed in front of my kids. How stupid. How disrespectful to her and to you. How utterly, baldly stupid. Im sorry.
Allowing others to help us is just as important as offering help. This is a gift of our humanity: to give love and to allow others to give you their love. You can plan a funeral and mourn and whine all at the same time. You can be there for a friend on the phone. Were strong, all of us. And sometimes were weak. All of us. Your vulnerabilities reveal you. Let them. When you dont admit weakness, you close yourself off from receiving the strength of others, which is another way of saying that you close yourself off from love. Instead, you twist the tourniquet a little bit tighter. You grow numb. Trust me. I spent most of my life that way.
The simple secret of manhood is love. Its almost embarrassing to write that down. Not because it sounds so hokey, but because, deep down, its something all of us already know. And yet we men have an especially hard time admitting it to ourselves.
It is almost like a secret that each of us has to uncover on our own. Its a secret I keep rediscovering. I learned it when I married Mom. When you were born. Three days later, when I made a right turn out of the hospital parking lot to bring you home, I learned it again. Rocking you in the middle of the night when you would not stop crying. When you first toddled to me on shaky legs. And then all of it, all over again, when your sister was born.
As men, its not enough to love. Its a lot, but its not enough. Just as important, we have to allow ourselves to be loved. For men, this might be the greater struggle. We have a far easier time lifting the heaviest burden we can find than accepting the love somebody gives us when they offer to share the load.
I see that reluctance in you already. I worry about it, maybe because I recognize myself in the way you keep the world slightly at bay. When I was your age (and older), I treated nearly everything and everybody with ironic detachment. Somehow, that ironic detachment ended up giving me a careerI could be the funny, sardonic one. The one who could say the most outrageous things without cracking a smile. People seemed to like me when I said cutting things. Would people still like me if I opened up?
It took until your birth for me to finally come to terms with what it means to be a man. Not because I think fatherhood is a necessary component of manhood, but because, for me, fatherhood was the first time I had to learn to love another without condition or expectation. For me to be the kind of dad I wanted to be for you and your sister required a set of skills at odds with the sardonic persona that had served me well for so long. That guy didnt give a shit. This new guy did.
Also, babies are bad at getting sarcasm.
Somehow, the soft skills of parentingchanging diapers, learning to swaddle you like a little burrito, giving you baths, rocking you back to sleep at 3 oclock in the morningthose feminine nurturing skills, wound up making me feel like more of a man than anything Id ever done before. The work of parenting felt as much like mans work as spending the day chopping down trees. (Admittedly, Ive never spent the day chopping down trees.) I didnt have to do traditional dad stuff to feel like a man. I just had to be your dad.
One great thing about having kids is that they force you into an active practice of love whether you are ready for it or not. I wasnt emotionally prepared for parenthood after spending the 30 previous years in a cauterized emotional state. To get better, I had to figure out a way to become a new me. I had to figure out how to become a better man.
That process is slow and ongoing. Its an everyday
practice, just like the practice of love is an everyday
practice. The good news is that I can practice them at the
same time, because theyre the same thing.
To this day I can remember my father's voice singing over me in the stillness of the night. Carl G. Jung
During peace, sons bury their fathers. During war, fathers bury their sons. From the movie "J. Edgar"
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