I read an article last night that explained why men have a higher rate of suicide and mental illness than women. It has to do with the fact that men are despised by both the sexes for being failures at who we are. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t–if we’re not bold, strong male figures, men hate us. If we’re not pansies (female-dominated or effeminate), women hate us. In other words, men can’t win.
Or at least we’re told that–if not out loud, it’s in a very loud whisper.
Fathers have it especially hard, as us Generation X’ers or the ones Gen-X raised, Generation Y, were very likely raised without parents in the home, or absentee parents, whether physically (single-parent) or emotionally (present, but distant or hostile). We didn’t have strong male and female role models, so often we just don’t know what to do. We want to have kids, but we just don’t know why, and when we have them, we don’t know how to raise them.
I wish I could say I have been a shining example of fatherhood, but I haven’t. I’ve had my own problems to deal with, most notably raging mental illness that nobody noticed until I was in my early twenties, and because of various unfortunate factors, didn’t actually get treated until my early thirties. I haven’t always been a good father. But one thing I have been: a present father.
Dads: You get a lot of points for just showing up. Lots of kids don’t even have a male figure in the home. You get more points for supporting your family financially, plus even more if you treat your wife well, take your family to church, and play with your kids.
If you’re there, you’re already halfway there.
American society has been systematically trying to tear the nuclear family apart, by insulting fathers, portraying us as stupid and driving us out of the home. We’re told that we can’t win–again, damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Dad, if you’re in the home, that counts.
You’re already a winner, no matter what people say.
Now, maybe you don’t have supportive folks around you. Maybe you have an aggressively feminist wife who treats you like the enemy. Maybe all your old drinking buddies never settled down and you have no support around you. Maybe, even worse, you just want to end it all with an overdose of pills or a gunshot to the head.
But I want to encourage you: fathers, you’re always a winner.
If you fight for your family, if you fight for your kids, you’re a winner. Even if you do it imperfectly (and you will!), even if you see yourself as profoundly messed-up (which maybe you are), you’re still a winner.
Because you’re there. You’re one of the few dads left.
Hold your head high. If you’re in the home, you matter to your family. You are one of the pillars of society, whether you know it or not. And everything you do, counts.