Ah, Father’s Day is upon us. I can’t think of a better time for dads and men to remember how to be dads and men.
Flip on the tube any time during the day and you’ll see fathers portrayed as hapless buffoons – saved from themselves by their wives and all-knowing children. The real life of the modern dad isn’t much prettier.
To be sure, the state of the American male is in a shambles – though I’m not fully sure how we got here.
I remember the ‘60s. The women’s movement was beginning to gain traction, but in our neighborhood the moms tended to cook and watch the children, whereas the men earned the money and tended to the yard, then shot the bull over a few Pabst Blue Ribbons.
I remember the 070s. The evening news featured equal-rights protests at which women burned their bras. Still, in our neighborhood, most of the moms stayed home and the dads worked and drank Pabst Blue Ribbon.
During the ‘80s, the economy exploded. Everyone was so busy working and getting ahead that few noticed – or took the time to celebrate – the tremendous strides women were making.
I got my first job out of college in 1984 and began working with many female professionals – they excelled in a range of jobs they wouldn’t have been offered 20 years prior.
The ‘90s came and went quickly. Women kept blossoming and growing and doing well.
And in 2009, women are doing very well. They’re doing better than men at all levels of education. They’re gaining rapidly on men as small-business entrepreneurs. In the large metros, they’re out-earning us by thousands of dollars.
As females excel, males are faltering. We’re dropping out of school at a far greater rate than women. We’re seeing our income stall or decline – even men with college degrees are falling behind.
Somewhere along the way, women weren’t content with mere equality. They decided they wanted to remake us in their own image.
Boy, have we responded.
Sensitive new-age men now spend hours fretting over their looks and style – we spend thousands getting our hair primped, our skin moisturized, our eyebrows waxed.
Modern dads are unsure of themselves, too. Fathers can be found misting up at baby showers and clapping enthusiastically the first time junior uses the commode.
And with every concession men have made we have lost status – we have lost respect. Well, nuts to that.
Look, men, we need to whip ourselves back into shape – we need to remember how men and fathers should be.
When our wives dress our sons up in knickers and saddle shoes, we must respond the way older fathers would have responded: "No son of mine is going to wear any damn knickers!"
We must retake control over the naming process of our children. We must give our boys names such as Tom, Mike, Jim and Joe – not let our wives name them Gilad, Jeremy and Michelle.
We need to stop seeking the approval of our sons and daughters. We are the adults and they are the children. Our role is to focus on the unpleasant job of fathering – to do the often unpopular work that will prepare them for a competitive world.
We must regain our backbone. We must earn respect by being good husbands and fathers – and we must demand that we be respected.
There’s nothing wrong with being more attentive to our children than the father’s of old were. There’s nothing wrong with changing the diapers and having long conversations and showing emotion.
But somewhere along the way we’ve tossed the baby out with the bathwater – we’ve let ourselves become wimps and buffoons – and that isn’t good for our wives, our kids or ourselves.
It’s up to us now. We must restore some needed balance and equilibrium to the American family.
If we do, fathers, after a long, productive day of fathering, will be able to enjoy an occasional Pabst Blue Ribbon on the back porch.
If we don’t, it is just a matter of time before modern dads are forced to wear knickers and saddle shoes, too.