During the 1970’s I had the privilege of working on a research team at the Kennedy Center which is a part of Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. The winds of change were occurring and for reasons I have yet to understand, the world of academia wanted to have a genderless society. A world where individuals were not noted for their gender. The hypothesis, which was proven to be false, proclaimed we arrived at our place in society based upon culture that promoted expectations of men and women. For example, textbooks and stories invariably depicted men as doctors, lawyers, truck drivers, farmers, etc. Equally prevalent, women were nurses, secretaries, teachers, etc. Spawning from this thinking we began to see a gradual change, and the infamous Title IX of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which emphatically stated, whatever was available for men should be available for women, passed into law. Contrary to natural law we as a society continue to lean toward a genderless society. One of my most embarrassing moments during this time happened when I was in what I thought was a men’s restroom when a young lady walked in. To my dismay, I told her she was in the men’s restroom only to be corrected and told the restroom was for both sexes. The trend continues. Last week a school in California decided to allow children to choose which restroom they wanted to use.
The role of the male in society cannot be replaced by the female. In the face of research project after research project proving the man has a critical role in the nurturing of children, we continue excluding this component in our thinking. Let’s take one example: seventy percent of incarcerated men come from families where the father is absent. Not necessarily physically absent but absent in the day-to-day rearing of the children. Research is clear when it states the health of children is in direct proportion with the “bonding” of the father with the children. This writing does not allow for the elaboration of the many research projects emphasizing the role of the father in a healthy family.
This weekend we celebrate “Fathers Day.” To the Facebook family reading this ‘blog’ I have a challenge for you. Instead of waiting for that telephone call, that e-mail, that hug, from you child(ren), become active. To promote ‘attachment’ to your child(ren), you make the telephone call, you send the e-mail, you give the hug and in so doing be prepared to give three examples where your child has made you extremely happy. Give the situations chronologically, one during early childhood—–”remember when we use to wrestle on the floor and I would tickle you until you would almost cry, I really enjoyed that time we had.” Secondly, one during middle years—–”you remember the great whiffle ball games we played, they were fun.” Finally reminisce about something current—-” I remember our little talks about growing up and ………….” It is important to observe a behavioral axiom: “a behavior that is positively reinforced will repeat itself.” In your conversation with your child be sure to promote behaviors you want to see again. If you do not have those magic moments, then today make time to have lunch with your child(ren), just you and your child—regardless of age. If perchance there are situations that need forgiveness, now is the time to forgive.
Dad’s are extremely important for the mental health of their children. Make it happen.