Are fathers getting better with each generation?

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Today is the first anniversary of the Abbott Government, but more importantly, it is Fathers Day.

As I got up this morning, for some reason I started to think about fathers. Not in a philosophical sense, but as in all the fathers I’ve known.

I guess I was trying to answer my own question: what are fathers, what makes them worthy and should there be a special day set aside to celebrate what it is that they do. Celebrate in a real sense, I mean. Not in a box of chocolates and a pair of undies kind of a way. A day when we actually discuss its meaning, its significance.

And so my mind raced through its memory banks as I tried to recall what kind of a father my own father was, and compared that to what kind of a father I have been so far. And then I started thinking about what kind of fathers my own two sons are. Are they better fathers than me?

I also thought of my brothers as fathers, and then my brothers in law and all my male friends, those of a same age as me, but also some younger and a few older than me.

What kind of fathers are we, I thought. Who of all of us was the best kind of father. Is there such a thing: a best kind of father or are we all different.

Was it my father’s peers, the so called “greatest generation’’, who were born in the 1920s?

My father has been gone for almost 15 years, but I remember him as the strong, silent type. Think John Wayne. There were no hugs from my old man, and very few pep talks. I guess he thought he was teaching us through his deeds because in his view words were cheap.

And then came my generation of fathers, the baby boomers.

Yes, we were different from our fathers, but my abiding memory from the time we had our children was an expectation that I would be different from my father.

The times were changing.

I was expected to do more around the house, from changing nappies to cooking, as well as still being the provider for our growing family: the hunter and gatherer of yore.

If my memory serves me right, I did not resent having to be a different father to my father, but I definitely resisted this change. I suppose it’s natural to avoid change, even if it ends up being good for us.

I have no idea if I was a good father or not, but I do recall doing a lot more for my kids than my old man did, including giving the boys a hug now and again. But I also took the boys to cricket and the girls to tennis and Little As on the weekend.

My father never did any of those things. He never said so, but I am sure if he had to articulate his reasons he would say that none of that stuff was man’s work, and, indeed, it was part a mother’s duties.

Right? Wrong?

And then, in a blink of any eye, my two sons have become fathers in their own right, and I have watched them take on this ancient role with much interest.

The funny thing is that I see them change nappies, for example, and do things I would never dream of doing, and it feels good. In my estimation that makes them better fathers then me, and I tell them so.

They are still hunter gatherers, but they also clean and cook and wash up.

So, after all that, I still don’t know what the definition of a great father is, nor whether we deserve to be celebrated.

I think of my father once again and I realise he would never have had any doubts about anything, whereas I am unsure of my position much of the time until I make a decision.

Perhaps, fingers crossed, fathers are still evolving, and will continue to evolve for hundreds of years.

Happy Fathers Day.

1 thought on “Are fathers getting better with each generation?”

  1. “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for
    authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in
    place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they
    contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food
    and tyrannize their teachers.”

    – Socrates

    Maybe they are like our children, the same as two thousand years ago. Living in the moment sometimes we cant see.


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