Friday, January 26, 2007

Being Both a Man and a Dad - Not Easy These Days

There’s a fine line between genius and insanity. The line’s also pretty fine between pleasure and pain. I’m no authority on genius - and even less of one on insanity (although some would differ with me on the latter). I am, however, an expert on pleasure and pain and the thin grey line that divides them. You see, I’m a dad. I walk that line every second of every day that I’m around my kids. One moment I’m stepping on the pleasure side of the line. And the next, I’m stumbling around on the pain side. Back and forth; back and forth. Good; bad – Happy; sad – Pleased; mad.

I live in a world that is not of my own making. A world where kids rule and parents crawl. It was not supposed to be this way. It’s unnatural to have the world revolve around children. They’re supposed to be seen and not heard. They aren’t deserving of our endless attention. They shouldn’t be allowed to disrupt our lives and be so demanding. But they do, and they are. And we let them. Boy do we let them.

I figure its all about supply and demand. Years ago families were large and there was a big supply of kids, so they and their demands meant less. Their input was unnecessary for survival. They knew little of any importance. They didn’t incessantly demand to be heard like they do today because they knew that they had little of any value to add to any discussion. And, when they did interact with adults, it was mostly to listen and learn; not to spout off as though they were equals. Because they were not equals. Most of the time, they lived in their child’s world and adults lived in their adult world. It was natural, and it was right.

These days, families are not just small, they are microscopic. One child families are common. And what value do you suppose parents place on only child, compared with the value parents place on one out of 6 or 10 children? A helluvalot more. An unhealthy amount more.

Kids are treated like gold. They are pandered to and made to feel as though their views are as important as their parents. Parents don’t tell their children what to do any more – they engage them in discussions so that a “mutually beneficial outcome can be achieved”. Oddly, in doing this, parents are not elevating their children to their level; rather, they are reducing themselves to a child’s level and diminishing themselves and their authority in their children’s eyes.

The world was not designed to revolve around our children. And men were not designed to tolerate children who believe that the world revolves around them. It’s unnerving; it’s unnatural; and it’s positively unhealthy to a man’s ego and sanity.

Men were not designed to subjugate themselves to their offspring. To even entertain the idea that a child should have the right to question their authority runs counter to every Y chromosome in a man’s body. Personally, I am not genetically capable of calmly discussing options with a whining or screaming child. Nor am I inclined to look favorably upon a long drawn out discussion with a petulant child when I already know the outcome will be the same as I have already decreed.

It is no accident that past generations of children were better behaved. They knew when dad said no, he meant no. They didn’t enter into debates with their dad because they knew it would be folly. And, as a positive result, dad didn’t have to waste his valuable time debating with a mere child. When disagreements started they were often circumvented by a quick, efficient smack on the bum, or the threat of one.

Men only live once and his lifespan is considerably shorter than a woman’s. Why on earth would any sane dad waste so much of his valuable, irreplaceable time engaged in fruitless circular arguments with his children when other, more efficient and effective methods are available to successfully modify their behavior.

When my children make demands or put up a fuss when I tell them to do something, it humiliates me to have to pander to them. Sure, I'm human, and sometimes I make the mistake of lowering myself to their level. But I hate myself afterward. All I can think as my daughters resist my authority is “I gave you life, you ungrateful brat. I feed you and clothe you. Everything you have you owe to me. I sacrifice everyday for you. Everything I do, I do in your best interest. I would die for you. You have no right to show me such disrespect”. And they don’t. They have absolutely no right whatsoever.

A few weeks ago I was standing at the side of an outdoor public skating rink watching my kids skate around. I overheard a father talking to his son. He was pointing out the correct way to skate. His son, in a petulant voice, said: “ You can’t tell me what to do”. The father immediately assumed a humble stance and, in a pleading tone said: “I’m not telling you what to do, I’m just trying to help you. If you want to learn, you should listen to me.” The boy, about nine, didn’t look impressed. No wonder. There was nothing to be impressed about. And I wondered, if a father doesn’t have the right to tell his nine year old son what to do, who does? Do we live in a society where no one has the right to tell children what to do without entering into a lengthy debate about it? And if a child refuses to respect his fathers guidance and knowledge in such simple matters without coming back with a smart-ass rebuttal, what chance will the father have later on when it comes to more important things?

And day by day, it gets worse. Dads and parents in general continue to lose ground. They lose it to their children, who become increasingly more demanding and less obedient. They lose it to their children’s schools, who demand that parents teach their children grammar at home so they can concentrate on teaching them personal values. They lose it to the media, who sexualize children and expose them to violent, obscene and suggestive imagery at every turn. We lose it to busy body, left wing social activists who continually come up with new ways to transfer parental authority to the state, like when they launch court challenges to criminalize parents who give their children a few slaps on the bum or advocate for mandatory helmets for all kids who go tobogganing.

Years ago, when children knew their place, the family was big and it was inviolable. (‘Inviolable’ is defined as “unbreakable, sacred, firm, unchallengeable”) back in those days, the family came before teachers and government. There were no self righteous socialists or radical feminists marching around trying to dismantle and disempower it. And the media celebrated the human qualities that were good and admirable, rather than celebrating our most shameful decadent desires like it does today.

Nowadays, the family comes before practically nothing. And it's about as unbreakable, sacred, firm and unchallengeable as the marriage contract around which it is formed. That is to say, not very. Families have become so insignificant and unimportant, in fact, that many people choose to have none. And those who do choose to have one, have one so small that it is practically meaningless in terms of perpetuating the species.

I have only two children so I guess I shouldn’t talk. After all, I too am a qualified runner in the ‘white extinction race’. I guess I should be deferring to my children more and caving in to their demands like most new age parents do. I guess I should be more tolerant when they are obstinate and adopt a humble, pleading stance. But I’m not and I won’t. And I am appalled and astounded how alone I am in my sentiments – how separate and different I am from all the soft, tolerant, sensitive, new-age dads out there.

But I am not ashamed that I am different from them. I am proud. I look at them and I feel sympathy. They can’t be enjoying themselves.


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