Perhaps it is difficult to see at first, but the kind of father you end up being depends a lot on what kind of father you had. You not only inherit your own father’s good qualities, but also his most profound inadequacies. Over time, you begin to see this in your parenting skills and whether you overcome this is entirely up to you. In my case, my father worked and never seemed to spend any time with us, however a more accurate portrait, is one of a man who did not know how to relate to his children. He could not really communicate with us and so he did not spend much quality time with us at all. As a father myself, I spend most of my time with my family at home, but I too find myself drifting away to fix a computer or clean the garage, instead of spending real quality time with my boys.
This brings me to my point about boys. In general we tend to treat girls and boys differently. Our society is gendered and as the recent school shootings in the news have proven, we are somehow ignoring boys and letting their emotional health suffer in the process. For a while I believed the talk about how society is letting boys fail in order for girls to succeed, and how this is an escalating problem. The reality I think is more simple than that. I think we tend to pick favorites. At times boys are easier to please and vice versa for girls. We tend to let girls get away with things we know they should not, and equally the same for boys. While we expect girls to excel in liberal studies, we expect them to be bad at math. For boys we emphasize their physical roughness and ignore their emotional health, we rather let them run than listen to their feelings. We play favorites depending on the time and place.
While boys are not girls, we should not treat them any differently. Boys need the same skills as girls, they need to be good communicators, they need emotional stability, and they need to be listened to just as much as girls. After decades of trying to equate the sexes as equal, we are still treating them differently and this is what is really unfair. As a father, I need to start listening to my boys, and this is difficult but not impossible. I have noticed that at eight years old, my son is already having a difficult time talking about his emotions.