Darth Vader is the perfect example of the stereotypical father-figure from the past when men weren’t socialized to show their full spectrum of emotions – only anger and happiness were socially acceptable. If they did show emotions like sadness or fear, they were stripped of their hunting and mating privileges and expelled from the village (or in Vader’s case stripped of his lightsaber and expelled from the Death Star).
Thankfully, those days are over. We’re experiencing a quantum leap in both social roles and mental health. While it’s great for our kids and us, it can create father son relationship issues as traditional stereotypes about men and their familial roles are thrown out the window. While modern men are being encouraged to develop their emotional spectrum and exercise their touchy-feely awareness, their fathers are often stuck in a more traditional mindset. Cue the generational gap.
DADDING DEFINITION: The act of keeping a child alive and in one piece whilst appearing not to embarrass them with dad jokes and bad dancing.
Let’s first look at where the concept of fathers comes from, and you’ll see that Dadding isn’t a static entity – it changes with the societal expectations that surround it.
If we look back over the last 100 years, a lot has changed. Our grandfathers might have seen the first motor car or fought in World War Two, and now we have Tesla Rockets. In the past 15 years, we’ve seen a rapid change in the concept of fatherhood with the introduction of much-needed acceptance of LGBTQ2S+, gender fluidity, racial equality, feminism, and blended home and work environments. Despite all this change, the crucial evolutionary attachment with our parents still remains, and fathers play an important role in society as they become more involved in parenting than ever before. With the incredible changes we’ve seen over the past years, the frustrations a lot of us feel towards our fathers and our upbringing could be to do with the then-accepted but now-outdated social norms for parenting when we were children.
Lots of guys feel animosity towards the way their fathers parented them, but not all of it is purely lousy parenting (although we understand that some parents do, in fact, get it wildly wrong). So what are some of the ways we might have skewed the perception of our fathers and their parenting style?
Unlike Luke Skywalker, you don’t have to wait for a dramatic ending to find a way to connect with your father. To move forward, we need to be aware of the factors outside of Dadding that influence our appreciation (or lack thereof) of our fathers’ attempts to develop us. We also need to be aware that they had Dads that were probably men of a dramatically different set of social norms. In those times, society and expectations were very different, and they didn’t afford guys a vision for what parenting for the future might look like. Here are five things you can do to get things back on track with your Dad (choose the three that most resonate with you):
“Do I want to be a hero to my son? No. I would like to be a very real human being. That’s hard enough.” – Robert Downey, Jr.
Father’s Day might bring up some difficult emotions for those of us who have a less-than-ideal relationship with our fathers. But it can be an opportunity for us to celebrate the contribution that our Dads have made to our lives and think about what kind of fathers we want to be to our children. If there were some father son relationship techniques your father employed you didn’t agree with, you don’t need to be like Anakin Skywalker and blindly follow in your father’s footsteps. It’s in our power to understand the best way to raise a child, and here are some ways to do it:
“The strongest, toughest men all have compassion. They’re not heartless and cold. You have to be man enough to have compassion – to care about people and your children.” – Denzel Washington
Learn practical tools to improve your wellbeing and get more out of life.
Feelings and emotions are complicated. Let us help you untangle them so you can feel better.