Father Isn’t Just a Noun, It’s a Verb
- June 1st, 2019
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If the month of May is known in the Philippines as the month in which Mother’s Day is celebrated, June is known as the month in which Father’s Day is celebrated.
For the longest time, it was easy it differentiate the role of the mother from the role of the father. One broad distinction offered by parenting psychologist Carl Pickhardt, for example, is that mothers are the more relationship-oriented parent with a focus on how the child is feeling, while fathers are the more performance-oriented parent with a focus on how the child is doing. Hence, children will generally turn to their mothers for empathy and look to their fathers for approval.
The gradual erosion of gender-based role assignation in recent decades, however, has made it increasingly challenging to distinguish either of these roles from each other. As a result, it’s easier to just talk about mothers as the female parent and about fathers as the male parent—while foregoing assumptions about who’s making the money, who’s cleaning the house, who’s sending the kids to school, and so on and so forth.
The beauty of this gender-agnostic view is that it makes it easier to view parenting as a set of attitudes and behaviors that are intentionally cultivated rather than biologically acquired. Hence, if it’s possible for us to “mother” ourselves through acts of self-nurturing, it’s also possible for us to “father” ourselves through acts of self-motivation. And we need both elements to balance each other: too much mothering can lead to complacency and self-indulgence while too much fathering can lead to perfectionism and self-abuse.
Now, since we’ve already devoted the month of May to sharing tips on how we can mother ourselves, it makes sense to devote this month of June to sharing tips on how we can father ourselves. We’re also devoting space, of course, to ways of celebrating our real dads—the men to whom we owe the essentially unpayable gift of life.
May you experience delight, gratitude and joy as you honor both your outer and inner father this June!
P.S. If you’re short of ideas on how to surprise your dad, just click here!
Photo courtesy of Tim Mossholder.