The Thinking 

If Your Father’s Not a Man, Who Is?

January 16, 2013


DANIEL S. writes:

The men’s issues writer Jack Donovan has written at AltRight about the issue of manliness and children based on the entry at your site by Wheeler MacPherson. He writes:

I don’t spend much time around kids, but I have seen this out and about. There are tons of “emo dads” in NW Portland who talk to their children this way — the way that lonely old women talk to lapdogs.

Like the man [MacPherson] who wrote the comment, I can’t remember my grandfathers ever speaking to me that way. They weren’t cruel or abusive. They took me places and taught me things.  They supported me even though I was an oddball. But they never spoke to me in baby talk. They were men. They were authoritative. And, to this day, years after lingering illnesses and deaths, they both maintain a certain command presence in my memory.

Kids pick up on weakness quickly and they learn how to exploit adult behavior. There’s a joke in my family about how good my youngest sister was at fake crying. Even at five or six years old, she would turn on the tears — and then smile devilishly at my sister and I as our parents reprimanded us.

Feminists and pop-psychologists may be telling men to be  “softer,” but I wonder if these young boys will ever truly respect their fathers. Boys will pick up on submissive behavior. Even dogs pick up on it.


This posture seems to be a post-Boomer cultural default.  Modern Dad isn’t supposed to be “The Man;” he’s supposed to be your little friend and super-fun playmate.

But, if Dad isn’t The Man in your life, who the hell else is going to be?

When you bend down to a boy’s level and emasculate yourself, you’re teaching him that boyhood is more important than manhood. Boys should look up to you and aspire to be more like you, not the other way around. [cont.]

— Comments —-

Bruce B. writes:

I saw what Mr. MacPherson describes at child’s birthday party this past weekend. One of the fathers did exactly what Mr. Macpherson describes. I also noticed another father who did not do this. The main difference between the two seemed to be social class. The “neutered” man was middle class. The man who was not neutered was (typical modern) working/lower class – big and tattooed with a bushy Viking beard. I think, in general, a lot of the effeminacy among males is predominant in the middle and upper middle classes but hasn’t affected the lower classes nearly as much.

Jeanette V. writes:

To be honest, this simpering baby talk that women and men do these days with kids is relatively new. I certainly don’t remember anyone’s parent talking that way to their kids in the 50s. When I was raising my daughter I never spoke to her in that fashion either. Goodness, her father and I gave her time out for whining the last thing we were going to do was speak to her in that same tone.

Buck writes:

I raised my son from birth. I talked to him like he was a baby, when he was a baby. I talked to him like he was a toddler, when he was a toddler. I talked to him like his was a young boy, when he was a young boy. Now, I talk to him like he is a man. He talks to me as a man. He’s coming to my neighborhood to take me to dinner tonight. I can’t express how much I look forward to seeing him.

I spoke to others, and to his mother as a man, from the time he was born. I did not use my large voice when I came close to him, as I was all day. No one told what to do.

I’m no expert. I raised just one son. What has been described here seems odd, as it is described. I’d have to see it. Maybe I’d react the same. I don’t know. It does seem unnatural.

The dynamic between fathers and sons, and daughters should be natural. The way a man speaks to his son or daughter, the way a man speaks to everyone, especially to his son’s mother in his presence, teaches. I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve reflected on a sudden realization that I just said or did something just like my dad did. All kinds of mannerisms and even the way I laugh. I often see me as him. Often that’s a good thing, but not always.

I see some of me in my son, and it makes my heart beat.

There’s no perfect right and wrong. Men should be men with women and with their sons and daughters. We don’t talk to everyone in the same way, at all times. That’s not natural. If it’s unnatural and always, then that is a problem.

It seems to me that my son knew the me that spoke to him in the way that I appropriately did, and that he knew me – his father – who he observed speaking to his mother and all others as a man, also his father. I don’t think that my instinct to speak softly to my newborn or infant was wrong or damaging to my son. He’s a man’s man and women love him.

It seems to me that it’s what our sons and daughters observe about us when we are not focused on them, that has a greater effect on their manhood or womanhood. I don’t know for sure. But, I do know for sure how it has worked for me and my son.

Laura writes:

Again, Mr. MacPherson did not mean to suggest, at least as I read him, that men should never be sensitive or tender to children. I recognize the phenomenon he’s describing — and I believe Mary is right, it would never occur in a world of more children.

Share:Email this to someoneShare on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest0Share on Google+0