David Amerland
Father Figures and Father's Day - Sunday Read

Father Figures

In the 2017 film Father Figures two grown men find out by accident that their father is not their biological father and set out to discover who it was that sired them. The role fathers play in the upbringing of children is something that’s frequently and openly discussed.

The issue becomes more complex when we consider the dynamics, and reality, of single-family homes across the world and the impact absent fathers have on the development of children.

There is a tendency here to slip into easy stereotypes. Dads are important role models so we really need them. Their presence adds a vital ingredient to the cocktail required to bring up a fully-formed human being.

Psychologists look at the importance of fathers just as, ironically, the foundational history of psychology is peppered with incidents of rebellion against father figures. The questions that are raised from this are deep ones. A father figure as a “Higher Authority” is perhaps a primal psychological need we feel; one that incidentally perhaps also informs our personal understanding of God.

When young we tend to think of our fathers as all-powerful and all-knowing and take it hard when we find out they are just as flawed as other human beings. The effect they have on us is perhaps shown most clearly by the account of author Bob Hasson (whom I will be interviewing shortly this year).

The fact that fathers, while necessary, are not indispensable points out that perhaps the difficulty of growing up without a dad is one of challenges successfully faced. Freud went somewhere deep and dark when it came to our need for father figures in our psychosexual make up. It is perhaps a relief to hear that Freud’s own relationship with his dad was far from perfect.

Daddy issues” seemingly affect many adults. Culturally father figures are still stereotypes. We subconsciously use religion to formulate, in our minds, the ultimate Father Figure and I long suspected that we look to the leaders we choose as surrogate fathers to protect us and guide us.

It’s an easy trap to fall into. We devolve responsibility for many of the things that happen around us and what we do in response to them by assigning a “caring, nurturing” role to any woman and a “protective, guiding” one to any man. By association we perpetuate, perhaps, our adolescence well into our adult years and deflect the need to feel directly responsible for every action we take.

Bob Hasson’s book on honor and business makes the point that we have a choice we can actively seek to exercise. The need to take responsibility for our own mental, psychological and emotional growing up is what “The Sniper Mind” explores with its modular approach on how to best do it.

On day’s like today we celebrate Father’s Day (and fathers) and their impact on us and society. That is the right thing to do. But in the process of this celebration we should also, perhaps, take the time to examine our own lifepath. Our own development. Our own responsibilities and the impact of the trajectory of our lives.

In a connected world no person is an island. None of us is scot-free from duties and those duties, we now know, extend well beyond our immediate responsibility to ourselves (which we often are quick to shirk) and include our extended friends and family, the wider culture and, maybe even, the world.

How we learn to deal with that, how we manage to take the best life and those around us can provide and learn to deal better with the worst, will be the ultimate measure of cultural survival of our species. Just so we don’t end up on too heavy a note today I will leave you with this. George Michael has always been a favorite of mine.

I know you’ve done what’s expected of you so now you’re looking at a pile of donuts, cookies, croissants and chocolate cake and you have more than enough coffee to last the day. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.

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