Dec 2, 2011

Some Thoughts on Parenthood

The following is a response to a Wondering Fair post titled "If Only She Would Have . . .", which is a fresh and insightful perspective on parenthood.

It could be argued, perhaps, that social attention is directed more toward mothers during a child's pre- and early-adolescent years, but I perceive that there is an often discrete shift that begins to occur during the child’s mid- and post-adolescence years. I know this to be particularly true for young men, but it seems to be often consistent with women as well: that many personal demons struggled through as an adult—being that the son or daughter is at a more mature cognitive and spiritual place to identify them than during younger years—are somehow rooted in the relationship with the father figure. It is not uncommon—some would suggest that it is even natural and healthy with regard to development—that a son or daughter shifts a larger portion of his or her relational energy previously directed more toward the mother figure toward the father figure in the late teen period. Again, this is particularly true and important for young men, who upon entering manhood are looking for a guide(s) to help them through that initiation. But it does seem even true for many young women who may be, for example, searching for a model of manhood by which to measure their male peers as potential husbands and future fathers. This is a critical period for young people, and yet it seems to be poorly handled or often neglected by father figures. Further examples: the common insecurities of both young men and women, manifested through seeking love and affirmation through pre-marital sex or even homosexuality. It is certainly more complicated than that, but the point is that it seems that both men and women have an identifiable responsibility in raising their children. Society does seem to recognize this to some degree. In the art world, broken father relationships seem to be at the epicenter of story arches or character development more than broken mother relationships.

The father’s responsibility does not seem to be identified, encouraged, and challenged enough, especially by the Church; but I have seen that consciousness shifting. Mothers do often seem to receive much of the weight of responsibility during a majority of a child’s life, to which if the father is less present in that responsibility there may be a detrimental trend established for the future when the maturing child needs him the most—at which point, it may be added, for example, that a mother figure may have difficulty in allowing and trusting the father figure to take on a greater role if he manages to rise out of that passivity. Fathers have an invaluable role in raising their child. If they are not receiving enough attention in sociological and psychological assessments of parenting, which I am not sure is exactly the case, then they certainly need to. Regardless, thank you, mothers, for your tireless efforts.

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