In the most affluent parts of the Western world, a historic transference of power has taken place that is greater than anything achieved by the trade-union movement, the women’s movement or the civil-rights movement — and it hasn’t even been extended the courtesy of being called a movement. Fathers, who enjoyed absolute authority within the household for several millennia, now find themselves at the beck and call of their wives and children. Indeed, most of my male friends are not fathers in any traditional sense at all; they occupy roughly the same status in their households as the help. They don’t guide their children through the moral quandaries of life — they guide them to their extracurricular activities from behind the wheel of a Dodge minivan….
Read the rest, but it surely rings true to me. Add in the fact that modern television with shows that feature doofus dads like “King of Queens,” “According to Jim,” “Everybody Loves Raymond”, etc. and most notably “The Simpsons” where the kids (and mom) make fun of dad at every opportunity and you have a situation where most of today’s dads get little respect and even less real decision-making authority in their family lives.
Here’s another great line.
The poor sucker agreed to take on responsibility for all sorts of menial tasks — tasks that his own father was barely aware of — and received nothing in return. If he was hoping for some gratitude, he was mistaken. According to Mr. Lewis: “Women may smile at a man pushing a baby stroller, but it is with the gentle condescension of a high officer of an army toward a village that surrendered without a fight.”
I have raised three sons, all good solid boys from what I can tell, but the truth is even these good solid boys say things to me that I would have never thought to say to my father. They all aren’t the same in the way the interact with me, and they certainly aren’t disrespectful all the time (they are good boys like I said), but when they do go down that road the things they say are almost word for word from shows like I noted above. Or could be torn from some movie that they recently saw with their friends that naturally showcased some smart-ass kids who sound so cool dissing (do they still use this word?) their dad.
I blame this on lots of things besides television and movies, of course. I blame it on a liberal society that teaches everything but discipline. Try spanking your young child while out in public when they are acting the ass and you’ll see what I mean. When I was growing up, you’d get looks of approval from other adults in the vicinity, but now you get looks of derision and possibly a call to 911.
Kids now don’t have the same respect for their dads because in most cases we aren’t trying to be their dads so much as their buddies. And even if we do try to be the dad we just get overwhelmed by other dads who don’t try at all and a modern society that doesn’t teach children that they are better off being our children than our friends. Kids used to be fear their dads, but now it seems we fear them more than they us.
I don’t mean “fear” as in they are being physically or emotionally abused by some monster dad. I mean a healthy fear of disappointing a man whose respect and approval they want and need so much that any disapproval on his part hurts them to the bone.
But instead of that many dads today fear losing their kids friendship instead. We are the ones who quake at the prospect of disapproval.
Ward Cleaver never did that I assure you. And when he did worry about his boys disapproval it was not because he was afraid he would lose their friendship so much as it was because he was afraid he would lose their respect.
Anyway, I could go on and on about this as I often do (wordy doesn’t do begin to do justice to my writing), but you get the drift. And much of what I have said can apply to moms too, who also get less and less respect from their kids these days. I don’t think it has as much impact on them though, perhaps because they are more into nurturing and mothering than discipline and in many ways depended on the dad to provide that in raising a good child.
So read the article (and maybe the book it is about), which has as much or more to do with modern wife-husband and mother-father relationships than just father-children, and see what you think.
Via Dr. Helen, a champion of boys and men if I ever saw one.