The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Father Knows Best

When I was about ten years old, my father came down with Parkinson’s. From that point on, I had an “absent” father. After suffering through hell for a number of years, he died when I turned seventeen.

So I didn’t have a male role model growing up. I didn’t realize what effect that had on me until I read this passage from The New Male Sexuality, by Bernie Zilbergeld, this morning...

Early on the boy gets the idea that he can’t be like the person who means the most to him, his mother. No longer is it acceptable to bask in her warmth and nurturance, except occasionally, and no longer is it possible to think that he, as she did, will someday give birth to babies. She’s a woman, and he can’t be like her or any other woman. In effect, he’s wrenched away from the closest relationship he’s had and may ever have. In most primitive societies, boys were also wrenched away from Mom, but they were entrusted to the care of one or more men who guided their development. In our society, there is no such arrangement.

There is only Dad, or whoever is playing that role for the boy. It is from him that the boy will learn his most important lessons about masculinity. Unfortunately, that relationship is rarely nurturing or positive in our society. Fathers are often not physically present and when they are, often are not emotionally present. Physical affection, emotional sharing, expression of approval and love – these are the human experiences that very few boys get from their dads. It is a tragedy of the greatest magnitude for men not to have been respected, nurtured, loved, and guided by their fathers.

Martial arts expert Richard Heckler recalls what happened when he was a child and his sailor father returned from a year-long cruise:

I felt proud of him, proud that he was my father, proud that after not seeing him for a year and not even sure what he looked like, I still had a father. He came up to me and extended his hand in his stiff, formal way. “Hello son. Have you been taking care of your mother and sister while I was away?” I was nine years old and I wanted him to hold me and have him say that he loved me. But he didn’t then or ever.

After I read this, I had another epiphany: the television became my father. It became my role model. All that I am, as a man, and as a human being, came from that glassy tube of electron beams.

I’m writing this and it’s all I can do to keep from crying (the first time in decades).

No wonder I can’t share my emotions with women. And the worst thing is, I’m not sure that any amount of therapy can repair the damage...

I can’t give up my father.