Father’s Day is here.
I’m a father, and it’s always been one of my favorite jobs. Dads hold a particular role in family life, and it’s extremely important, despite our society perpetually harping about how “toxic masculinity” is going to kill us all. I’ll argue that there is not ENOUGH masculinity in our society, but that’s a topic for another day.
But as I retire to the trusty front porch with the 2 fingers of Jack Daniels, I am feeling like this old codger should educate a few of your fellow dads out there and disseminate some life lessons for you.
1. Stop treating your children as pieces of china.
Look, dad’s job is to laugh heartily while you terrify your kids. It’s what you do. Stop freaking out about bicycle helmets and “Oh my gosh! I don’t drink water from the hose!” and letting your wife tell you to stop swinging the kids so high. Just stop. It is your requirement to scare your kids a little, and you know why? Because you also teach them that you will ALWAYS save them and provide security. So zoom your kid to the moon on the swingset, laugh as they scream in terror, and then catch them securely while they laugh and laugh. Ignore your wife that scolds you. Your role here isn’t to provide constant safety, it’s actually to teach them to enjoy some of the thrills of life and to appreciate the safety provided by strong, loving arms.
2. Quit teaching them the “Happy Wife, Happy Life” shit
Few things have wrecked our marriage rates and society in general more than this endless narrative that “Oh, dad is just a goofball – mom makes all the big decisions and as long as she’s happy, the house is.” STOP IT. Teach your children about mutual respect in a relationship and about your role in the leadership of it. Stop cowering to your woman, and put her in her place when you must, respectfully. Stand up for yourself. Stand up for your family. LEAD. You can do none of these things while your wife drives the family around in the minivan to shop at The Rim for a day. Drop Mom off at Nordstrom’s and take the kids to Bass Pro Shops and ooh and aah at all the great stuff you’ll find. Be different, and always be a bit adventurous.
3. Be the ENFORCER.
Kids being mouthy to mom? Make sure that they know when she says “Knock it off or I’ll tell your father” holds some serious weight. NOBODY disrespects your woman, so show them that. Mom says “Honey – I need help!” and you should be coming through the door like the Hulk and the kids should be sent scurrying. Mom will respect you. The kids will respect you. And life will proceed as it should. Quit sitting around and saying “Honey!!! The kids were awful today. Can you take over for a minute?” No way. You kick some kiddo butt, even if that means all the kids are locked in closets. Dads REGULATE.
4. Don’t be an ATM
Sure I hit my old man up for cash back in the day, and he’d frequently take care of me. However, nowadays, I hear whiny teens say “But Daaaaaaaaad…these jeans aren’t the coolest! I need the $300 pair of jeans!” Did you work hard for that $300, dad? Of course you did. Then why do you dish it out to your kids without them investing equally? Your daughter wants something expensive? Make her earn some portion of it. Chores. Savings. Part time job. Sure, you can kick in so your kids can get what they want, but I can assure you that they will have zero respect for the value of a dollar if all they have to do is hug dad and he’ll spit out a few hundred dollars. I know you’re trying to be sweet, but you’re not doing them any favors.
5. Treat your Spouse like the Queen that she is.
This is vitally important. I was no perfect husband by any stretch, but I loved my wife for every single day of our 62 years together. And one of my proudest accomplishments is that I know my kids watched every day of that relationship, both the great and the not-so-great. Dad, you are teaching your kids how “marriage” works, so respond accordingly. I’m not going to shame any of you that have failed marriages, as even in a failed relationship, you can still teach your kids about mutual respect, individual happiness, and about what’s important in this life.
6. You’ll never spend ENOUGH time with your kids, but try
As men, we have some serious pressures. That mortgage isn’t going to pay itself. The whole family typically looks to you to provide and it can be an intense weight for all fathers. But here’s the deal – your kids are only kids for a short period. Don’t miss it. Take that lunch hour and pop in at your kid’s school lunch. Take the family on the camping trip. Plan the daddy/daughter date night once a month. Man, just make it HAPPEN. No excuses. You’ll forever kick yourself if you turn around and your kids are 23 years old and you have that crushing moment where you realize that you missed damn near all of it. Don’t be that guy. It’s a regret that never goes away.
7. Quit being so damn…….”metro”.
Men, please be men. Your kids need a father. Your wife needs a MAN. Quit worrying about your skin care, and instead worry about whether your kids know how to change spark plugs. Stop stressing about your clothes or latest fashion trends, and learn a new skill. Read a book. Lean an instrument. Throw your stupid “man cave” out and put in a library. Think. Discuss. LEARN. Be the most kick-ass man you can be, and not someone trying to be a model for Polo clothing. Get your hands dirty, watch Youtube videos to learn how to do things you might not know, and then be the guy with the answers. Nobody gives a damn about your stylish boots, but they’ll appreciate knowing that they’d be safe with you in a snowstorm.
I could go on and on. But I’ll stop. Basically, this guy’s perspective is just that “man” is a disappearing specimen. We’re being lost to feminism, “toxic masculinity” discussions, and basically the never-ending joke that somehow all men are basically the equivalent to Homer Simpson.
We are the strongest of the human species – why do we act like we have zero strength? Or knowledge? Or conviction? C’mon guys – take this Father’s Day, grab your favorite brew for the BBQ grill, and bask in the glory of your role in society.
Happy Father’s Day.