"If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a 50 percent chance of being right." - Bill Cosby
The "New" American Father. Now, there's a statement that conjures up many thoughts. Back in the 1990's, there was a song entitled Sensitive New Age Guys. This happy little tune expounded on the wonderful changes in our society via the feminization of males:
(Sensitive new age guys.)
Who are hard to tell from women?
(Sensitive new age guys.)
Who think boxing is upsetting?
Who's got "Baby on Board" stickers on their cars, oh,
(Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh)"
I can't believe Mr. Cosby was referring to this New Man, but the comedy does cross social and "manly" lines. Our fathers never, I repeat, never talked about their feelings. Some say this needed to change. Fortunately, the pendulum is swinging back and we are starting to realize that men and women are different. Imagine that!
My wife's cousin was John Wayne - yeah, the John Wayne. When I think about what I see or hear in today's Pop Society, I have to wonder, "WWWD - What Would Wayne Do?" We see the bumbling fathers on TV and the smart-mouthed kids who always have the advantage. I realize this makes for funny scenes, but what happened to equal time, or is that just a concept for conservative radio?
"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years." - Mark Twain, "Old Times on the Mississippi" Atlantic Monthly, 1874
Our fathers, (I am speaking to those over 40) grew up in a time when sacrifice was real and your word mattered. They showed their strengths and weaknesses through action. Self-esteem was not even in their dictionary. Their self-worth was based upon actions and results. If they did well, it was because they worked for it and sacrificed. "A father carries pictures where his money used to be." - Author Unknown
As Father's Day is coming up, I have had these thoughts. My father has passed on, but he is still present in my mind. I see other people's fathers and the love and admiration still in tact for these men of honor and tradition. It is good and wholesome and something we need to keep alive in our nation.
Father's Day has a slippery beginning. Some give its beginning in West Virginia, while others Vancouver or Spokane. Either way, the institution of the celebration can probably be ascribed to Mrs. Bruce John Dodd.
Her father, William Smart, was a veteran of the Civil War and raised his six children by himself. Mrs. Dodd was so impressed with her father's ability, she approached her minister in 1909 to request a dedication be given and on June 19th she got her request.
In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge declared Father's Day a national event to "establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations."
Who are we celebrating? These New Age Fathers or the Fathers of our Past? I, for one, will celebrate and try to emulate the Fathers of our Past, the real men who built this world for us to enjoy. It is a different time and our social world is radically different from days gone-by. "You've got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was." - Irish Proverb
But, can we learn from our past? Of course. These men are still around and for those who have passed on, we often have some connection. We can remember through other family, through stories of other families, through listening to our friends' fathers and mothers.
Or, when all else fails, there is always the John Wayne movie channel.
Happy Father's Day.