Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The best father you can be is a mother...

A couple of years after my second son was born, I read an ad in my local newspaper. It was announcing a course in parenting which was specifically aimed at men. It sounded like a great idea. With the change in expectations on both men and women from my parents' generation to mine, any and all help is welcome.
I lasted two weeks.
The course was being run by Rob, a man in his late 40's. As it was his first time presenting, he was being supervised by a more experienced instructor, a woman in her mid 60's. This was the first problem. Speaking personally, I find it difficult to take advice from someone who has no experience in the matter they're advising on. Just how many children had this woman fathered?
Plus there was the fact that she had no hesitation speaking over Rob, especially to correct him. I'm sure we all know just how much men like to be publicly corrected. Especially in front of other men they're nominally in charge of.
This woman (I'll call her Rose, though I forget her actual name), displayed some of the weakest understanding of the male animal I've ever witnessed. In discussing communication, she was at pains to point out how little her husband and sons would say to her or to each other. She made many complaints about how information on their days' events needed to be dragged out of them. Uh...hello? THEY'RE MALE! Unless the friggin' school burned down, they're going to answer "What happened at school today?" with "Nothin'".
So our course was being overseen by someone who not only had never been a father, but also appeared to have very little understanding about how men operate.
In our second week, my turning point came when we were given an active listening exercise. We were given a hypothetical situation and were asked to respond without commitment, without any attempt to solve the problem. Not one man actually got it right. Every single one of us responded by saying, "well, you see, this is how we fix it". Why? BECAUSE WE'RE MALE! THAT'S WHAT WE DO!
That particular exercise, as I said, was the breaking point. At that point I inferred that the course was teaching us that, as I wrote above, "the best father you can be is a mother".
And I disagree.


Jenna Alexander said...

I agree. People battle the other sex and argue "you need to behave this way. You need put yourself in his/her shoes." no - you need to plug their words and actions into your code descrambler thingie, get what they are saying and move on. Let's not try to change everyone into being and behaving the same. Let's learn to understand each other.

Willsin Rowe said...

Thanks, Jenna. I'm very lucky in some ways. I only have boys, so I'm pretty knowledgable about what they do and how they behave and think. My wife doesn't get them as well as me, but she quite openly admits that, and accepts it when I tell her "that's what boys do".