Every person you encounter is an archetype. In other words, a model of how to act, present oneself, and live. That means every blue-haired, tattoo-ridden barista you see is an archetype of what it means to be a woman, a barista, a cool chick, or whatever other angle a person might take. Even if you are not aware of it, you are receiving messages from each person you observe and many you do not think you are observing.
It is hard to grasp this idea until you become a father of a son or a mother of a daughter. But as a parent, you notice eventually that you are always being watched. You are under continual surveillance, even when you think you’re not. So, when you walk around in flip-flops or unshaven- unless you live without any human contact or cultural intake- you are modeling a style, a set of values, and a way of living. Think about that.
To children, particularly young children, a parent is a God-like figure. When you rage about traffic or the many little annoyances of daily life in front of your children, you are presenting a negative, angry way to look at the world. And one that you may well transmit to your children. When you wield such enormous power over children’s lives, it is critical that you not be a tyrannical or abusive God. In fact, it is your job to build strong, confident, competent people to better the world around them. So, notice who is around you and how each person influences everyone else even just a tiny little bit. Even you.
Indulge me for a moment. You don’t have to agree with every word, but hear me out.
The availability of casual sex without marriage, fatherhood, commitment, etc. has weakened men. It has made men slippery, less capable of commitment, more prone to dishonesty- generally, less attractive to women.
Giving up casual sex has made women more emotionally confused, less authentic, less happy. Case in point, the Aziz Ansari story.
The result? Fewer marriages, families, relationships. An embrace of atheism and hedonism over all else. And the decline of families.
I’m currently watching Narcos on Netflix and finding myself in the strange position of being both repulsed by and kind of liking the character of Pablo Escobar. He is, of course, a horrible man. But he also is a good family man. He’s much like the Tony Soprano character- a likable, but pretty evil guy. He takes care of his family and he takes care of his crew members (for the most part). He is a provider and a protector, admirable traits to men.
This is why our culture needs stable, admirable archetypes. Without them, we start to gravitate away from the proper role model, JC.
It’s that time of year when we are supposed to recognize our fathers despite raising us under the inherent tyranny that is family life. Here are a few ideas to help you be the best dad you can be, whether your kid deserves it or not. Kidding! They all deserve the best you can offer.
Put the phone down and pay attention! This is perhaps the most important bit of advice I can offer. For at least a little while every day, spend time with your kids without any other distractions. None. Focus! You’re kid will appreciate it greatly and you’ll remember it for years to come.
Carve out one-on-one time with each kid regularly. This is obviously easier in some families than others, but try to spend that one-on-one time on at least a weekly basis. Maybe every Saturday morning or every Sunday afternoon. With some flexibility, of course.
Remember you are being watched. I was watching my 4.75-year-old eat cereal the other day and after he had finished scooping out and eating the O’s, he picked up the bowl and drink it down like a hungry orphan. This is something I learned my from father and he learned from his, no doubt. Anyway, everything you do is being watched carefully. And eventually, much of that behavior will be acted out. So behave yourself.
Educate yourself a little. There are more and more resources available to parents. In the DC area, we have a fantastic organization called the Parent Encouragement Program that offers dozens of classes online and in-person on positive parenting. I’ve taken a few. Very helpful.
Take good care of yourself. If you are responsible for others, whether financially or otherwise, it’s critical that you make sure they are cared for and supported. Eat healthy. Exercise. Go to the doctor. It’s not that hard and it’s very important.
Play rough with your boys. There is some evidence that ADHD is linked to a lack of rough play in childhood. There are some who argue that it may just be a sleep deficit. I’m on the fence. I have it. I’m just not sure what causes it.
Try to get along with the mother of your child. This may be the hardest one, especially in cases of divorce, but it’s important. Really try!
Being an orphan is a tragic thing. I know, I was raised by one. It’s even worse when you try to go through life without moral and ethical guidance. I tried. For 40 years, I thought I was a good person and that being so was enough to get by in life. It’s not. Because you need the other people in your life to adhere to a moral code, too.
There is a wisdom to religion that Sam Harris and the New Atheists don’t grasp. It is the wisdom of how to live day in and day out, week in and week out. Live with gratitude and work towards a cause much greater than yourself. There is nothing wrong with accepting some help from a father or the Father.
Come from Jordan Peterson: “Wherever we go, and I mean that, wherever we go… If I go down the street or if I’m in an airport or if I’m in a cafe or if I’m in a movie theater… If I’m in a mechanics’ shop, some person comes up to me every 10 minutes, and they say, ‘I’ve been listening to your lectures and they’ve helped me. And my life is getting better.’… Can you imagine a better way to be greeted when you go out in the world?” -from a recent talk with Dennis Prager.
There are many, many benefits to yoga, but here are a few in particular that men should really take advantage of-
Meeting women. The first and most obvious reason to do yoga is the opportunity to meet lots of women. Every yoga class I’ve ever taken has had a ratio on the order 3 or 4 women per male yogi. This is kind of a joke. Don’t take this too seriously.
Real estate insights. There is some evidence that the presence of yoga studios correlates to rising real estate values. When a yoga studio comes into the neighborhood, young folks with money follow.
Strength & flexibility. Of course, there are many, many benefits in the form of improved strength and flexibility. Men with back problems should be careful, but if your doctor says okay it can really make a difference in your life.
Stress reduction. A yoga class can be a calming, meditative refuge from the outside world. Men REALLY need that.
An ethic of self-care. There are countless support groups and activities available to women to assist with self-care. Men rarely take advantage of these opportunities and it comes at a major societal cost in the form of stress, illness, and bad behavior. It’s time for men to do better about this. We will ALL benefit.