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A Boy Does Not Become a Man Until He Chooses Fatherhood

And why should it matter if his children are disabled or geniuses?

by
Dave Swindle

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April 30, 2013 - 4:45 pm
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I also disagree. It's a false and silly contention or generalization. To be a good father certainly requires one to be a man, but there are men who honestly recognize their limitations and choose other paths. Manhood as I see it is defined by risk and responsibility to a moral end, which may or may not include fatherhood. I've been fortunate to know two outstanding men neither of whom chose fatherhood (indeed, one fervently refused it on principle, confessing he had no patience with children). But he challenged corruption on a huge bureaucratic scale and at great personal risk. He went where few men would dare.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (44)
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Pardon, I made an error. I want to say that a culture dies when its cultural values do NOT mediate values leading to the reproduction of the species. Alas, my eyes just do not see my words so clearly. Even profs get old and clumbsy.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
I intend to defend Swindle's contention, though considering "manhood" within the framework of the species. In this framework, "fatherhood" is the model, relative to which boys , in order to become men, have an archetype. To do this I will plagerize terminology used by Bendict XVI, namely the "culture of death", and by Francis I, namely the "culture of life". I claim in no way that my theses are those of the two Popes.

Bendict's reference to birth control as a "culture of death" bothered me because preventitive contraception kills no one. Abortion (= remedial contraception) is certainly killing and qualifies for the term "death". But not preventive contraception. Please take up David Goldman's "How Civilizations Die". You will learn that civilizations die when their cultural basis does mediate values such that the species is reproduced, i.e., 2.1 children per woman in safe and secure societies and more children in less productive times. Germany, where I liive, evinces ca. 1.34 children per woman. This means that the cultural downgrading, no absenting of parenthood (from women as well as men) in favor of whatever secular goals is "killing" the culture. If demographics do not change (and German politics are pushing the same non-reproductive cultural values) the German DNA bearers will be in 200 years as numerous as the Neantherthals. (This iseventually true for all of Europe and now for the USA.) In 2000 Germany had 15.2 million youths, 18 and younger whereas in 2011 only 13 million. (This is already restricting medical care as I just found out, so to speak, on my own "old" and no longer productive body.) The youth of today and in the coming decades simply will not be able to support the old until there are no more youth in a couple of centuries and the culture dies. Here Benedict was right: Conctraception, preventive as well as remedial, can terminate the existence of a people. And that is childishly adolesent. In other words, a culture whose normative valuies lead to the sellf-destruction of the culture is truely a "culture of death". Polemically I contend that the citizens of such a culture of adolence consist of boys and girls, not men and women (I have expanded Swindle's thesis to embrace women and what makes them adults and not overgrown girls).

The social institution in which children that bare the future "life" of a culture are socialized is the family. In the West this has been a man/lwoman marital a relationship. (A homosexual "marriage" [sic] is biologically barren and the supreme model of cultural suicide.) Within a familial relationship the woman as well as the man become adults because they contribute to the very maintenance of the future "life" of the culture, of the species. Within the terms of my analysis, responsible "fatherhood" becomes the manner in which a male not only transcends adolence in years but also in responsible maturity. (I could make a parallel argument re women, but that is not the theme.) Being responsible for the ongoing species "life" of a culture is the archetype of "fatherhood". Interestingly, the Catholic Church addresses its priests as "Father" (and certain nuns as "Mother"). Catholic priests, not maimed by modernism, seek to mediate sacred value that justifies "life" over "death". Protestant pastors, whereas mostly married, have in effect the same task as the "Father" pastors of Catholicism. I am grateful to both groups.

There are various tasks beyond the fatherhood in a family that contribute to generating and maintaining the ongoing "life" of a society. In an analogous manner, persons fulfilling such tasks have carried over the archetypical ideals of fatherhood and motherhood into non-familial ideals. Real fatherhood becomes symbolic fatherhood for males.

If my brief analysis is plausible, I have constructed an argument supporting, though modifying, Swindles thesis.

Finally, as an afterthought, I enjoyed more than once the film "An Officier and a Gentleman". The aspiring officier only really became a "gentleman" (viz., a variant of "fatherhood") when he ceased his purely sexual relation to a woman he loved, and took her for his wife. That film is archetypal.




49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Very good, very articulate article. Thank you. You should also post this over at Dr. Smith's article about men not marrying anymore.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Jesus Christ did not have any children; was he not a man?
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
When Isaiah spoke of Him, he called Him, "Eternal Father, Mighty God and Prince of Peace." We, His disciples, are all His children.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Choosing to have children and choosing to be a father are two separate things.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
There's an epidemic of men choosing to have children with the intention of ignoring them? I think you're thinking of elephants or lions or something. Maybe spiders - spiders might do that.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you're being facetious.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes! Good observation.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
What question would you prefer I ask instead about how a boy becomes a man?
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
The question to ask each day is "God, what would you have me do?"
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dave,
You have missed an important preliminary step in this discussion and your journaling, which is to nail down the definition of a man. Understanding your angst and soul searching as a man who myself was unmarried until 30 and childless until 32, I can tell you that it is far better to define what you are running after before you begin passing through one-way doors.

I used to think being in the military would make me a man. It got me closer, but it didn't get me there. I used to think being married would make me a man. It got me closer, but it didn't get me there. I used to think being a father would make me a man. It got me closer again, but not to the finish line. And I am a father of two special needs children, a father who is their primary caretaker and case manager. So I have done, and am living, and have been successful at all the modern routes to manhood. 21 years of military service, marriage, fatherhood, and primary care of two special needs children. They all got me closer, and made me far better, but none of them alone nor all of them together made me a man.

What makes me a man is trusting in and believing in, and following and giving my life to the best of my limited ability to the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit. I tried every other route first. They were good routes, but I could have traversed them _as_ a man instead of traversing them _trying to become_ a man.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Prolly finishing a Boy Scout's merit badge would come closer to my own definition than worshiping imaginary beings who live behind Fomalhaut.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Very, very compelling argument. Thank you.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Becoming a father has nothing to do with becoming a man. You can become a father in a drunken one night stand and never even know you have fathered a child. All you have to do is have sex with a woman. Being a man has to do with how you behave when you are not having sex, although some think having sex for the first time is "becoming a man".
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
I do not believe that providing the genetic material for a child makes someone a father. The headline is "CHOOSES" fatherhood. As in, chooses to assume the identity of father raising a family or father for children without fathers in their lives.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, providing genetic material does not make someone a father. Unless it fertilizes an egg and the egg is brought to term, and a live child is born, you will not be a father.

But literally, the father of a child is the male who provides the genetic material. In the context of law today, men get a choice only when it comes to choosing whether or not to have sex. Only the mother gets to choose after that.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, there's a big difference between sperm donor and a father. A father is someone who chooses to raise children. One can be a father to many children without them having your genetic material.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
OK, I understand what you mean.

Now what about the word "choose", which you have stressed to me. Making a choice does not mean that you will follow through and act accordingly, and not for a day, a week, or a year, but for as long as it takes. Perhaps, then, to refine your idea, a boy does not become a man until he becomes the kind of person who will act accordingly, for as long as it takes. Furthermore, I would say that whether or not the boy has become a man in that sense, only time can tell. At the moment of choice, he could be deluded as to what is involved, and so fail miserably at a later time. Making the choice is not passing the test. The test follows the choice, and it takes a long time.

Do you agree?

I would also generalize the definition, as many others have here, as well. The raising of a child is not the only test by which it becomes apparent whether or not we are men.

Could we say that one is a man when one has proven to be virtuous? If I remember correctly, the Platonic definition of a virtuous man is a man who is courageous, prudent, temperate, and just. Aquinas must have had a similar definition, which would have been suitable for a Christian, but men of other faiths should not be excluded, not even Moslems (and I believe, here distinguishing the religion from its nominal followers, that Islam is fundamentally evil).
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
"the Platonic definition of a virtuous man is a man who is courageous, prudent, temperate, and just"

I would correlate those four virtues with the four letters of God's name, so yes, I suppose a man who embodies those characteristics would make for a great father and should consider raising children even if they are not his own biologically. http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2013/01/12/10-secret-reasons-why-the-avengers-is-the-best-superhero-film/
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Very interesting question, Dave.

My experience of motherhood went through the world of infertility and its influences. Becoming a mother, 18 years ago in an overseas army hospital, was quite simply the most profound event of my entire life, bar none. Surely, this paved the way towards my maturing into womanhood, even caused it, but at that point in time I still had a lot if growing up to do and it did take a number of years.

With regards to my husband, pre-fatherhood he was already the most responsible man I have ever known.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm not entirely sure that's true. While I look down on the people who see children as an "obstacle" to their own self-centered, self-celebrated pursuits of narcissism, I think sometimes it can take just as much responsibility for someone to look in the mirror and understand that they just aren't cut out for parenthood for reasons that have nothing to do with self-centered narcissism.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's tough.
there are only two paths to manhood. The first is becoming a father and contributing to the perpetuation of human life. But, these days it's more sensible in many cases to avoid trusting womyn as they are being churned out.
The other path is the one where a man eschews fatherhood and focuses on some great task.
there are the rare that can combine both paths, thus helping to create awesome children.

In the end.. A MAN CHOOSES.

It's that simple
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think you're trying to define people too narrowly. I say that males can be both men and boys and females can be both girls and women at all stages of their lives past puberty, depending on the circumstances. For example, if a teenage boy is put in a position of caring for an ill parent or a younger sibling he can act like a man and therefore be considered one. If a grown man gets together with friends for a long weekend and goofs off he can be one of the 'boys' and therefore be considered a boy temporarily. He's still a man, but enjoying boyish freedoms for a time. We are complicated, multi-faceted beings. Parenthood is only one facet.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh, and as to "why should it matter if his children are disabled or geniuses?" Has it occurred to you that they can be both at the same time?
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
My point is to encourage boys to embrace manhood and girls to embrace womanhood. I am advocating for maturity instead of perpetual adolescence.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
My point is that you can be a child and visit manhood and be a grown man and still visit adolescence. Even when you're 36, a small part of you will still be a 10 year old.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Your point is obvious and misses my point: that yes, of course we all have our inner child, but we should strive to be adults instead of children.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
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