Pondering The Perception of Papa
A few months ago, I attended a hypnosis workshop on Attraction. One of the guest speakers was a pick-up artist who shared with the audience his technique. He got so good at picking up women that he was juggling 38 girlfriends at one point. This guy was different from the smooth-talking, gold chain-wearing type you'd expect. He was an average-looking guy, balding and a bit overweight. But it wasn't his system on how he wooed women that struck me; it was what he looked for in a woman. He looked for three things: a love of children, animals, and a healthy relationship with her father. The first two showed she was nurturing. The third demonstrated that she was used to being treated with respect and would likely treat him similarly.
I thought about my relationship with my father and realized how lucky I was. I loved my father. I wanted to be funny like my father. I vividly recall how he took me aside to explain what I needed to get through life, and often these lessons did not coincide with what I learned in school. For example, I was being bullied, and one of the lessons he taught me was, "Sometimes, you have to stand up for yourself and fight back." Another lesson he taught me was that it's okay to stand out from the crowd because people don't become friends with or do business with people they don't remember.
One of my comedy friends was raised by his single mother. He didn't have a father to teach him "guy" things. On stage, he tells a funny AF story about rehabbing a house. He fell through the ceiling because he didn't know to walk only on the rafters as the drywall wouldn't support him. When he tells this story, I about peed my pants because his description is so funny. When we talked about the joke after his show, he explained the "dark side" of the story, which is the pain he still feels because he never had a father teach him "guy" things like simple home repairs.
Thankfully, we have YouTube to help fill in the knowledge gaps that a parent or caregiver may be unable to share. Still, YouTube can't replace connecting and interacting with other human beings. With Father's Day coming up, now is a great time to re-evaluate the relationship you have/had with your father. If your Dad/caregiver was terrific, remember how he was amazing and how you benefitted from that. On the other hand, if your Dad/caregiver was abusive or absent, now is a great time to make peace with him and his shortcomings. Your father probably didn't mean to be a lousy father. He just never acquired the skills he needed to be a great parent. Be sure to gently remind yourself you did the best you could given the resources you had to work with and how his lack of parenting made you more robust, resilient, and resourceful.
As you remember your father/caregiver this Father's Day, take a few moments to consider how you would like your children (if you have any) to remember you. If you don't like what they would say, now's the time to start changing that. Think about what changes you need to make in your attitudes or in your life, in order to be the father your children need you to be.
Happy Father's Day.