In honor of Father's Day, I'm reposting one of my favorite posts from 2007. I believe that fatherhood requires more than contributing DNA. To all the unsung heroes out there, this one's for you.
Newly hatched sea turtles possess instinctual survival behaviors that cause them to pop up through the sand and race toward the ocean. Joseph Campbell describes this innate releasing mechanism as animal behavior instinctually utilizing their hardwiring to respond to circumstances they have never before experienced, in order to guarantee the survival of their species.
One of the premises of Earl Hipp's book, Man-Making, is that "men and boys are hardwired in this same way for important and necessary actions between them. This is why, at the onset of adolescence, boys begin to pay attention to men. They instinctually look for clues about what it means to be an adult male; how to feel, think, emote, laugh, posture, and relate as a man. They know something amazing is going on inside them, and consciously or not, they know men have their answers."
A new post honoring his own father and challenging men to become a hero to others can be found on his Journey to Manhood blog.
What It Means to Be a Man & Father
When a person remarries and children are involved, the excitement of a new, physical intimacy gives way to tumultuous, emotional truths. I think it's called the "blended family" because first you have to go through a blender!
In the beginning, I was fortunate. My son introduced my new husband excitedly to his friends by saying, "Now I have two dads." But that was before we actually exchanged vows and the novelty of sharing my affections wore off. On the day after our out-of-town wedding we stopped at a Chinese restaurant on the way to the airport. It was Father's Day.
The waiter asked if we'd like the "father's day special," and my seven-year-old son said, "He's not my father." The waiter and I exchanged glances, and he said, "I understand. I'm a step-dad too."
My husband responded with empathy and said, "I know I'm not your dad, but I'd like to be your friend."
"When men trust their hardwiring and step into some form of action, it feels right to both the men and the boys," wrote Earl.
Over the years, my husband rose to the challenge, despite the thankless job of step-parenting an adolescent. My son absorbed precious gifts, critical knowledge, and necessary skills for his journey to manhood.
"When men get clearer about their place in the male hierarchy and trust their hardwiring, the result is Man-Making, men helping boys on their combined journey to manhood," noted Earl.
Today, that baby sea turtle (my 30-year-old son) has developed the strong, mental overcoat necessary to survive in an often harsh and unsympathetic world as well as the masculine virtues essential to living an authentic emotional life.
Any man willing to share in the raising of another man's child is not only a Father, he's also a Hero. Happy Father's Day men!
photo credit (father & son): anoni_moose via photopin cc