Why I Dislike Father’s Day

This Sunday is Father’s Day, and I am not looking forward to it. To be clear I am looking forward to the breakfest in the morning (hint hint), the happy Father’s day wishes from my kids, and the gourmet burger I will get when we go out for lunch (hint, hint, hint). What I am not really looking forward to is the church service.

Father’s Day isn’t exactly a Christian holiday but most churches pause to make mention of the day. If you happen to find yourself in a church this Sunday allow me to sum up what you will likely hear the minister say;

‘Happy Father’s Day! Some fathers are pretty crappy. Some fathers have died. You might be sad because of this. Some fathers are doing ok, good job fella’s. Whether your dad sucked or was ok God is the best dad ever, you should spend more time with him.’ 

I will probably say something like this. I will take longer to say it, and I will likely use more poetic and polite terms, but this will more or less be my Father’s Day sermon. It always is.

Father's Day 1

Happy first day of being a dad. Please be prepared to be reminded constantly how most dad’s suck.

I always give this sermon because Father’s Day (like Mother’s Day) can be very emotional for people. Some people really did have fathers that ranged from mildly lousy to absolutely terrible. On Father’s day they struggle to know how to process these feelings. Likewise some people deeply feel the pings of grief as they miss their fathers on this day.

In that sense I stand here as one of the lucky ones. My father who is very much alive went to great lengths to ensure he had a good relationship with me and my sister. He made that very deliberate choice because he didn’t have that kind of relationship with his own father growing up. And I am fortunate enough to have been blessed with children of my own, that I am also trying to care for as best as I can.

As I care for my children I know  I am standing on the legacy my father started. And I am not alone in this. I know many remarkable dad’s that are doing as much as they can for their families.

Father’s Day is meant to be a day to celebrate the good things that good fathers do. Yet Father’s Day more often becomes a time when we commiserate the lousy things that lousy fathers do; and I hate it.

Me and Ariella Baby

Oh look a dad, I bet he actually sucks like ‘all the rest’

Studies continue to show that good father’s play vital roles in their children’s emotional and social development. I want to take the time to celebrate the people who are trying to do this right. I want to encourage them, and to remind them that we see what they are doing and appreciate their work.

I know that Father’s Day can be a hard day, and that elevating those fathers who are doing well can cause pain for the people who never had the relationship they wanted with their father. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take time and make the effort to celebrate all the good dads out there.

It means we also need to take time, on a different Sunday, to really address the very real hurts we can feel when we mourn the loss of our fathers, or mourn the relationship that we never got to have.

Call me crazy, call me selfish, call me insensitive, but as a father when I leave church on Father’s Day to go enjoy my gourmet burger (hint, hint, hint, hint) I want to leave feeling uplifted for trying my best, not dejected because others haven’t.

There needs to be a time to mourn with those who mourn. But can’t we also have a time to rejoice with those who rejoice?

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6 Things You Actually Have To Stop Doing To Be Happy

Who doesn’t want to be a little more happy in life? I know I do. I think I am a fairly content and happy person most of the time, but I could stand to be a little happier. But what do I do if I want to be a happier person? The amount of advice online about how to be happy is seemingly unending.

Happy Little Girl

Such a smiley girl

As I read these tidbits of wisdom I always walk away with a ‘yes, but’ ringing in my mind. I think yes; ‘doing these things will likely make me happier in the moment, but will they contribute to my long term happiness?‘ Obviously that isn’t always the case. Somethings will without a doubt contribute to both my long term and my short term happiness. But some choices that will make me less happy in the short term, will set me up for more happiness later. While other choices will make me happy in the moment but stand a real chance of lowering my long term happiness.

Here are six things that I think you need to stop doing in order to be happy in the long term;

Stop Not Caring What People Think About You

I think one of the worst pieces of advice we give to people on seemingly a daily basis is to not care what other people think about them. Unless you are a fully self reliant hermit on some island in the middle of no where, what other people think of you will affect your life. There are lots of people whose opinion of me is absolutely no concern of mine. But there are other people whose opinion matters a great deal to me. The trick isn’t to not care at all, it is to decided who’s opinion of you matters.It matters to me what my wife thinks of me. It matters to me what my children think of me. It matters to me what the leaders in my church think of me. This list isn’t exhaustive but you get the point. If I didn’t care what my wife or children thought of me I may well have continued to live as if I didn’t have a wife and children. If I lived that way chances are sooner or later, I wouldn’t have to worry about having them in my life.

Stop Not Comparing Yourself To Others

Speaking about other people it actually can be very useful to compare yourself to others. I am not talking about the size of your house or any such things. I am talking about life skills. One year when I was university I had a roommate that was much more studious than I was. He became my gauge for when it was time to do school work and when it was time to relax. Everytime I saw him working/studying, I worked/studied. Every time I noticed him taking a break, I took a break. That one year we lived together was the best school year for grades I have ever had. If you want to be a good parent, compare yourself to other good parents around you and see if you are missing something. If you want to be healthy, compare your eating and exercise habits with someone you know who is fit. Maybe you will have to take a hit in happiness to admit you are not doing something perfectly, but isn’t the happiness of doing it better worth it in the long run?

Nothing like a smiley puppy to brighten your day

Nothing like a smiley puppy to brighten your day

Stop Not Worrying About The Future

I think worrying gets a bad reputation. We are constantly telling people who share their concerns with us to, ‘not worry about it’ and I don’t think we should always do that. While I recognize that worry can become crippling, I think taking a fully carefree approach to life is not wise either. The two things I worry most about are my children’s safety, and finances. I think my worries motivate me into positive places. I worry that our children may fall off their scooters and get hurt, so I buy them safety equipment. I worry about our bills so I work on maintaining a monthly budget. Deciding not to worry whether I can afford the things I buy may make me happy in the moment, but I suspect the day the bank forecloses on my house will be a bit of a bummer.

Stop Not Giving Up On Your Dreams

If no one ever gave up on any dream or goal the world would be filled with nothing but astronauts, princess’, people who owned dinosaurs that they could ride on and eat people that disagreed with them, and many questionable marriages between parents and children. Not all dreams come true, and that is ok. Not everyone can play professional sports, or be a movie star, or write a best selling novel. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. But it does mean one day you may have to let that dream go. Sometimes the best thing we can do is to let go of a dream that has shackled us to disappointment. When we do that we can be free to dream again, to dream of something new.

Stop Not Cleaning Your House So You Can Be With Your Family

It takes me about 30 minutes to fold and put away one load of laundry. It takes me about 30 minutes to clean up the floors in our kitchen and livingroom. It takes me only 15 minutes or so to clean up after a meal. And maybe 10 minutes to empty the dishwasher. I can ignore these somewhat simple and short tasks so I can play with my kids a little more, but the work doesn’t go away. Suddenly I have to spend an hour doing laundry. Or I have to empty the dishwasher and put in all the dirty dishes sitting on the counter. Before I know it I really will have to take an entire day to clean up, while my children clamour for the attention I can’t given them. Sometimes later is not the best time to get things done.

Gamer Kid

Happy to veg out

Stop Not Wasting A Day

Some of the best days I have are lazy pj days at home. We read a little, we play a little, we watch a movie or two as a family. We don’t experience anything new, or really accomplish anything we just have a nice day. It is ok to have days like this. You don’t need the stress of leaping from adventure to adventure, or DIY project to DIY project. Worrying that your families’ weekend instagram pictures are not candidates for motivational posters isn’t good for anyone. By all means take day trips, organize picnics, and go to museums on your weekends off. But don’t feel bad because once in a while you decide that your weekend plans are simply to watch Frozen for the 31st, 32nd and maybe if you can fit it in the 33rd time.

I can’t promise you that if you start following this advice that you will instantly feel happier. I can almost promise the opposite. But perhaps taking a moment to do a few things that may make you less happy today will make you feel a lot happier tomorrow. Now if you will excuse me I have seven loads of laundry to fold and put away.

Why Chivalry is Dead And Why It Is A Good Thing

From time to time I hear people bemoaning the death of chivalry. Events like the recent shooting in California attributed Elliot Rodger’s misogyny tend to bring up the arguments again. To state the argument very simply (perhaps too simply);

All women have negative stories to tell about their interactions with men. Men have no respect for women anymore, many are violent, sexually aggressive, and seem to feel entitled to the women that surround them. This is an issue that is getting worse, not better and something that must be addressed now.

Just how the problem will be addressed is sharply debated. One such argument is that men must return to a more chivalrous behaviour and temperament.

chivalry

There are a number of issues with this plan. First chivalry in its hay day wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. There was no expectation that men had to treat women of lower social classes with any kind of courtesy nor did they have to treat women from different nations with any kind of courtesy.

But assuming we controlled for that. Assuming we were able to convince all men to be chivalrous to all women regardless of age, class, or nationality I still would not think this would be a good long term plan.

Chivalry assumes one basic truth about men and women. It assumes that men are superior in strength and ability and intelligence to women. Women are fragile creators that must always be handled carefully and delicately. This attitude is very contrary to efforts of the feminist movement. To quote the first woman that spoke to me at MSVU (the predominantly female, feminist liberal arts university I attended) ‘I can open my own damn doors’.

Chivalry may make men nicer, but it will not make men and women equal to each other. Fixing the issue of misogyny can’t be women releasing their hard fought rights and status.

Were I to make one suggestion on how to address this major problem in our society I would say we need to make a massive paradigm shift on how we talk about men. It is time that we stop creating the self fulfilling prophecy that all men are sexual predators waiting to happen.

We tell both our boys and our girls that this is the way the male brain operates;

male_brain

 

This creates the very devastating scenario where boys think this is the way they are supposed to think and act if they are a healthy well developed man, and this is the way girls think men are supposed to act towards them.

It is this line of thinking that tells girls they must cover their shoulders, thighs, knees and chest lest their exposed skin ‘chum the waters’ causing men to act out in sexually aggressive ways.

It is this line of thinking that excuses boys for making lewd comments at women as they walk by.

It is this line of thinking that normalizes sexual violence in all forms of media.

When I was growing up my parents did not teach me that this monstrosity was my brain. Instead I was expected to treat people with respect and kindness regardless of their gender. I remember very clearly the one time I acted in a sexually aggressive way. I was in grade 8 and I made a number of unwanted advancements towards a friend of my sister a girl in grade 7. My parents we furious with me and forced me to apologize for my behaviour among other things.

It took me most of my formative years to reconcile the person my parents raised me to be against the image of the hyper sexual, hyper aggressive male that I was told was normal. I worried that my sexual drive was in some way impaired, or that I lacked testosterone, I ever worried about my sexual orientation all because I was taught not to treat women as sexual objects.

In my opinion if we really want to address the issue of violence against women and misogynistic attitudes we have to stop telling boys that they all come equipped with an overclocked sexual drive that they are required to satisfy all the time if they want to be a truly masculine.