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What Good are Fathers For?

If you only watched Television in the United States and then only sit-coms you would know that fathers are whiny, silly, rather stupid, football watching straight men there for the punch line.

Or, if you only read police reports you would think that shiftless, jobless, drug infested, yelling, hitting, low self worth was the definition.

In my early psychology and social work text (remember this was 35 years ago) there was a list of items fathers model and provide instruction on for their children:

  • In being in the world and how to interact there
  • In conflict resolution and the use of emotional factors
  • In the behaviors of the different sexes
  • In the roles of the different sexes
  • In teaching expectations which are placed upon the child towards being an adult
  • Table Manners (YEP!) and social courtesies.

30 Years ago we were terribly worried about absent fathers, divorced fathers / deadbeat dads, and how to socialize children properly. About 15 years ago we began to be hyper vigilante about abusive fathers, evil step fathers, incest, and physical abuse. These things were always there but we did not know how prevalent and extensive until computers and the Internet started putting all the data together quickly.

Now there are blog lists of deadbeat Dads, abusive Dads, murdering Dads and guys that are horrible dates available in just minutes after a woman feels the anger and negativity rising. I don’t think this is such a good idea, but I can understand where the rage comes from and I have seen the guy’s sites about their thoughts about ugly dates, diva woman, sex and money only gals, and bridezillas.

Candidate Obama certainly had the screws put to him for criticizing the Black Community’s Fathers and following in the comedian/actor/educator’s footsteps of Bill Cosby.

Now 30 years ago the text books in Psychology only presented up to age 21. When I stopped teaching the text books went to Death, we finally decided that people kept growing and changing and were more complex as adults than we first imaged. We do know that learning skills are programmed into a person in the first extremely crucial years (1-4) and that our values and behaviors to act upon those values are quite likely in place by age 10-12.

We just seem to be learning all the time or unlearning.

My husband just took a look at my Father’s table manners and adapted his to formal perfection in just two meals together.

I think the adult people who choose to parent have the toughest job on the planet in such a global environment. I believe it is a task as big as Global Warming and even bigger than the Financial Crisis. It is another part of our living that needs to be on the top of the list, and it is something folks can work on locally.

My hats off to those people who decide to parent and to do it well, I admire your efforts.

I see evidence in the blogging world of a powerful new Global network of parents who are truly working on doing an amazing job – Father Bloggers and Mommy Bloggers. I will list just 6 of the Dad Bloggers here, and their blogs will lead you to even more:
Blogger Dad http://www.bloggerdad.com/
Writer Dad http://writerdad.com/

Selfish Blogger
Teach My Children Well
Clark Kent’s Lunchbox
Dad Gone Mad
Turf Dad
DC Urban Dad

Good job guys!

Now I would like to make a request of all the parents out there, Could we please work on table manners a bit more!

I know there are companies out there like Microsoft which pay up to $1,500 an employee to improve manners providing international and cultural education, but I just think the rest of us could use a brush up on them too!

Chewing with the mouth open – ‘See Food’, blowing your nose at the table, playing with feet, fixing makeup, and brushing one’s hair, loud voices and gaudy laughter, no finesse with the knife or fork, laying on the table and shoveling it in – PLEEEESE I HAVE HAD ENOUGH.

Come on Dads it’s just one more thing on your plate!

Do table manners seem to be a thing of the past to you? What are some of the wonderful things you see the new father’s doing these days? Any other blogs you would like to highlight?

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15 Responses to “What Good are Fathers For?”

  1. Dot Says:

    Having had a deadbeat dad and a hardworking stepfather, both of whom had mental illnesses, I’d say I’d be happy if the dads supported their children and didn’t abuse them. Teaching their children ethical, responsible behavior and kindness would be next. Table manners isn’t really on my list.

    Dots last blog post..Life and Mad Lib-eration Answers

  2. Positively Present Says:

    To me, table manners are very important. I was raised to have them and I surround myself with those who have them. While I do agree with Dot’s comment that there are more important things to focus on than manners, I do think that manners are a very nice thing to have and, honestly, it doesn’t take all that much effort to have them.

    Positively Presents last blog post..a happy life is not a perfect life

  3. Betsy Wuebker Says:

    Hi Patricia – The beef with the sitcom stereotype of hapless, ineffective fathers is one of Pete’s hot buttons, too. He prefers Andy Griffith. :)

    Table manners. The expectations vary so much from family to family. Pete’s family says, “No” in response to an offer of something instead of “No, thank you” or “Yes, please.” This sounds unbelievably rude to my ears, like a slap in the face.

    My children’s Dad and I insisted on good manners in restaurants and in responses, and often other patrons and servers would stop by the table to compliment them. To this day, my adult kids (who can certainly be rude or thoughtless in other ways) respond with “No, thanks” and “Yes, please.” They know how to use a fork, and how to set a table properly and neatly. Is this stuff “need to know”? Well, I think so.

    Pete waited tables in a French restaurant during college. He can’t stand when a server comes up and says, “Are you done?” It’s “May I take your plate?” after the utensils are placed on an angle from 11 to 2 on a clock face.

    One of the etiquette-meisters (Miss Manners?) repeatedly talks about mannerly behavior as inducing a comfortable space from which humans can interact. Manners serve not as constraints in my book, but as common ground.

    Betsy Wuebkers last blog post..THINK LIKE A BLACK BELT AND BE SAFE

  4. Vered - MomGrind Says:

    My husband is a wonderful father. It irritates me to see how dads are presented in sitcoms and also in advertising.

    Vered – MomGrinds last blog post..40+ Activities For Kids That Do Not Involve TV, Computer, Wii, Or Any Other Screen

  5. Patricia Says:

    Dot,
    Yes, I think there are certainly some vital information that father’s need to teach before table manners – maybe some father’s teach us how NOT to be in the world?

    Positively Present,
    Table manners and just plain simple behaviors of being within the world are so important to me – I do take offense when folks say women are taking over the world and there is nothing for men to do???? I think the males we are saying this do not see what a huge task they have in this world.

    Betsy,
    “Manners serve not as constraints in my book, but as common ground.” Spot on here…we must teach our children well and get off the dime on this one…the sooner the better. Good manners also assist folks in feeling more secure in the world and more positive about themselves.

    Vered,
    You are so fortunate to have a wonderful husband -father. Me too! I count my blessings. I like the image of fathers in the blogging world better than in media…

  6. Jannie Funster Says:

    Gee, now that you put it all that way, yes dads have had some pretty bad raps over the years. Not fair!

    Patricia, were you taught to hold the soup spoon steadily horizontal and not turn it 90 degrees, or any degrees, as it approaches your mouth? And do not slurp of course. Oh, and dip the spoon away from you whilst gathering your soup. I learned all that from some 4-H bread-baking girls who learned it from their nun teachers, and I’ve been doing it ever since — that’s 33 years now.

    So I guess reading or doing computer at your table at a meal is probalby not too couth, eh? :)

    Jannie Funsters last blog post..Funny SEO Keywords, 3

  7. Patricia Says:

    Jannie,
    Yep I eat my soup that way…:0 60 years unless I have it in a mug.
    I often read blogs while I eat my dinner at my desk…my laptop will only work at the dining table! but I don’t eat and write at the same time or on the dining table.

    As a matter of fact I am having a garlic and water tonic right now as I reply to your lovely comments!

  8. Jannie Funster Says:

    Why did I dream of nuns and soup spoons last night?

    Oh, and here’s a weird one, I also dreamed that my parents were thrilled wth a little boom box they’d bought for $600. Now, whats up with that dream??

    Jannie Funsters last blog post..10 Great Mysteries of the Universe

  9. J.D. Meier Says:

    Beautiful post!

    It’s a great reminder to be careful how you form opinions and what information you feed on.

    News has to sell and pain and sensationalism sell the most. News also generalizes and simplifies. I feed on way less news than I used to and it’s an interesting shift in what I think about (I feed heavy on smart people, amazing books, and mind changing ideas.)

    J.D. Meiers last blog post..Six Sources of Influence

  10. Patricia Says:

    Jannie,
    I think you will need to ask Liara about those dreams, I am not good about dream interpretation…but maybe because you wrote about eating soup with a spoon poised in a certain direction was significant?
    Boom box…your parents are listening to your music – that is spot on!
    I had a dream that a woman and baby were wrapped in a colorful blanket on the street and someone set fire to the blanket…I could not get to the fire or assist the people…I had to sit in a chair for several hours and let go of that one…

  11. Patricia Says:

    J.D.
    I too am not watching as much news as I used to and am finding that I am able to be more present. I appreciate your comments very much and thank you for the kind words on this post.

    I feed off your blog ->smart people, amazing books, and mind changing ideas -> and I work on finding humor everyday.

  12. Tricia Says:

    It makes me itch to see how fathers are portrayed in most media, and I’m so glad you’re pointing out some great bloggers who are really nothing like the silly sitcom dads or the horrible monsters in the news.

    About table manners…we work on this diligently with our 5-year-old, because bad manners drive me batty, too, but I can’t seem to get him to eat with his mouth closed. I’m starting to consider taping his lips and only letting him eat with a straw (just kidding) but this for whatever reason is harder than potty training.

    Tricias last blog post..Redefining Normal

  13. patricia Says:

    Tricia,
    Thank you for coming on by and commenting – Welcome, welcome…

    After not having TV for years, I could not believe how the media was portraying fathers in 2008…awful.
    I love reading these Dad Bloggers and Mommy Bloggers and seeing how they are approaching parenting with style, grace, love and respect – hopeful stuff.

    Have you had your 5 year olds breathing checked by a speech pathologist? My oldest had a tongue thrust and allergies…the SP taught her new ways to eat so that she could breath at the same time – very helpful and removed lots of frustration.

    My youngest has a cleft palate – repaired – and she has to eat with her mouth open to breath, she also benefited from SP Therapy and now only things like potato chips send us a bit batty!
    Thank you for your comments, they are so appreciated

  14. Cricket-Tammy Says:

    This is one of those moments where I read this post and I know I left a comment. I even went back and did a history from yesterday…and I was here. I must have gotten distracted and never hit send.

    I do agree that the media has gotten out of hand when it comes to being a father. What happened to the good old days when “The Walton’s”….were on TV. This is one reason why we don’t watch much TV in our home.

    As far as manners, this is a huge struggle in our home. I am trying with Mitchell and Dylan. It the world of today, there is not a huge amount of attention given in this area. Even the schools barely touch on it. It drives me nuts.

    Cricket-Tammys last blog post..In Hiding…that’s all

  15. Patricia Says:

    Cricket-Tammy
    I am glad to find your comment today – thank you for coming back You are appreciated and have good words to share.

    Media and Father’s are really an icky combo right now, but we have such good blogger dads….I am looking for one who is a teenagers parent…maybe they don’t exist or our too busy?

    I think schools are in overload with all they have to teach…and overcome….we used to have dance lessons at school and etiquette too which I thought was boring because I got such huge doses at home!