“Parenting is not easy.”
Is your style of parenting often leading to many unavoidable arguments with your partner? Everyone says parenting is not easy, but what does it mean and why has this become a mantra of the American household? This oft-repeated popular saying rolls off the tongue. This notion is easier said due to the lack of understanding the dynamics involved with parenting. The many men I see find it difficult to be a father and a husband, let alone a compassionate father. Even more so, a loving and caring father is hard to come by. Fortunately, when men can understand where his father wound lies, he can better understand why he has such a hard time fathering.
Men I see in my practice resonate a common theme that seems to go unnoticed by his spouse or significant other. Even more curtly, the resonance of inadequate parenting ruminates around in the mind of the average father. The father I speak of has no example of a father or maybe even a positive parent. Therefore the difficulty of parenting lies in his representation. How is a man to be loving and caring for his children when his representation was a little stale?
A loving and caring present centeredness to parenting.
I cannot speak for the women out there, but speaking for the men is something I can do because I am passionate about male relationships. I have learned how to be a parent, a compassionate father, and a man with little to no teaching from male influences in my early childhood. Fortunate for me, I had great women in my life whom lead me to discover great men whom have fathered the boy inside. This loving and caring feminine presence afforded me the opportunity to explore male relationships. These relationships have not been without their damages and wounding that often rose to the surface. What draws men to look for and bond to other men, but fail to meet the needs of their own children? What about our own needs as men?
A caring compassionate father is not ubiquitous, but something of a myth. I do not believe the majority of men could tell me what a compassionate father is. Nor could they tell me what defines the characteristics of a loving and caring father. Men are not totally incapable of compassion. We are, however, incapable of raising compassionate children, interacting with our fathers, and solidifying family ties with our siblings. Wait, maybe this is a myth too? Jungian analyst Guy Corneau states,
“The fragility of masculine identity requires that these friendships be maintained over time, since identity can never be assured once and for all”
Raising children does not come naturally to particular men. Deeper emotions often do not sit well, especially if sparked by a loved one. Often this is mumbled by our lovers as ‘why don’t you get more in touch with your feminine side?‘
Where do we get manliness from?
Being a man is not easy. Men are required to know all kinds of things. There is a greater expectation to know how to raise children, as a man. We are required to be emotionally connected and tuned in to our spouse, as a man. We are expected to have every facet of our lives in order, and we are expected to show the appropriate amount of emotion at the appropriate time, like a man does. In addition to this, we are expected to be father, lover, and role model with zero know how to do any of it.
Along the way, if we could be compassionate and loving that would be a bonus! Man up, rub some dirt in it, and take it like a man are all said to us growing up. How are we expected to rub dirt in anything if we do not know why we need dirt to be a man? Too often we men are expected to be leaders in the community and in our homes with little to no teaching from our fathers.
We might have teachings from our mothers, but society is not ready for men who are compassionate and respect the opinion of females. Nor is society ready to allow men to lead whom have been influenced by a loving female.
However, Jungian analysts Robert Johnson speaks to the notion that one can have a nurturing aspect of the feminine and a destructive nature of masculine:
“…every man and every woman comes equipped with a psychological structure that in its wholeness includes the richness of both sides, both natures, both sets of capacities and strengths.”
Absent fathering has dramatic affects.
Most males I know have not had a consistent or compassionate father in his life. These men are emotionless when in the company of their wives. These men feel the push to run families, but also have little knowhow when challenged. Additionally, these men will take every opportunity to run when faced with the fear of emotions. It has become far too easy for men to become avoidant in their personal relationships and in their romantic relationships. This consistent fear of emotions, family, and failure has created a rift for a generation of men who cannot commit, nor can they be caring and loving.
Most men feel a drive within to be something. What is this something? Often it manifests as the desire to run or flee from greater emotions they do not know how to deal with. I do not believe most men want to flee. Nor do I believe men know how to handle the pervasive threat of emotions. To be a role model and mentor for their children requires the ability to harness these emotions. Emotionally connecting to a woman means releasing feminine generalities that appear to be threatening. To loosen the grip on society and in the home, men need to begin to work with and question these generalities.
Are you questing for something deeper? What are you searching for? Are you running from something?
Further Reading in absent fathering, fathering, and …
Corneau, G. (1991). Breaking the silence. In Absent fathers, lost sons: The search for masculine identity. Boston: Shambhala.