Man Alive is the source and the sink of everything I have to say, of course, but I’m told it’s tough sledding. Today I’m taking on moral philosophy as it is expressed in love, sex, marriage and family with a brand new book on fatherhood: Father’s Day: More Married. More Husband. More Father. More Man.
To say the truth, Father’s Day has been out for a few days, but this is the ‘official’ publication date for a couple of reasons: Second, today is Father’s Day, and I never turn down free poetry. But first, today would have been my mother’s seventy-third birthday, and she was the most father I had, growing up. You can see my father’s cocky smirk on the back cover, because I look just like he did when he was my age. But the book is dedicated to my mother for taking on so many of the things that fathers do for their children.
But the book is about young fathers and the things they can do to make their marriages, their families and their children happier and more secure. I think every day is Father’s Day, for dads who are getting the job right, because the marriage and the family are his relationships first: He creates them in pursuit of his own values, and they work, to the extent they do, as a reflection of his continuous, on-going, active leadership.
I’m kind of rough on those dads at the start, but by the end their hearts will be soaring: Fathers are hoplite Greeks, like Leonidas and his Spartan warriors, beating back savagery by pushing back and civilizing the frontiers. Fathers have been denounced and ridiculed for so long, from so many different directions that they have have forgotten to be the heroes their wives and children need:
• Families with dedicated fathers thrive, the rest sunder.
• Children raised by their fathers are far more likely to prosper as adults and make good parents themselves.
• Parents who stay married to each other live happier lives, all the way to the end, in stark contrast to all other people – never-married, divorced or re-married.
• Single-mother-headed households are very often a disaster for children, engendering girls who can’t relate appropriately to men and boys who can’t restrain their impulses in any way at all.
Families without fathers typically are not families for long, and they are rarely strong families. The families from which children emerge the strongest – best-prepared intellectually, emotionally and in future earning-power – are the best-fathered families. Dad is the unchallenged leader of his brood, and everyone recognizes that it is his steady, unwavering, mission-critical leadership that most makes them a family. He never stops driving his family, and – in direct consequence – they are proud to go where he takes them.
Father’s Day is about making more families like that, helping Dad find his way back to his leadership role, helping him take charge and get his family moving again.
If you’re a father, married to your children’s mother or not, you should read this book. If you’re the wife or parent or in-law of a father who could be doing better, you need it, too. And if you’re ‘marriage adjacent’ – not married right now, but hoping to get things right – this book is a good investment in your future.
Here’s my piece of this, quoting from the peroration:
We like to say that children are our future, but this is not wholly true. The children of morally-serious parents are our future. I like morally-serious parents, and I want to give them every bit of intellectual ammunition I can to help them keep their families together. An intact family, a family like Mister Married’s family, is better for Mom, even better for Dad, but it is everything to their children – just as your family is everything to your children.
The world fifty years from now will be built by the kids who put all those crunchy shells in your scrambled eggs this morning, Dad. If you make their world better, you’ll make everyone’s world better – your own first.