One of the more troubling discussions I have had about psychology concerns the idea that the child is the father of the man, that the way we are as children is the origin of much of our behavior as adults. Given the fact that I endured a partiuclarly savage childhood, this is not something I view with any degree of equanimity, although I have to concede that there are many ways that I am not all that different to the way I was as a very young person, cautious and alert, more than a little anxious, with deep and immensely frustrated longings . Nevertheless, recently I have had at least a couple of occasions that have prompted me to muse more than usual upon such subjects.
This weekend was the 68th anniversary of the birth of my father, and the times of the birth and death of my father tend to be somewhat melancholy times for me. As might be imagined, my relationship with my father has greatly influenced my thoughts about childhood in general, given that he was the decisive influence in the course of my childhood both by his presence and absence. And, considering the matters I have to deal with in my life, the question of fathers  plays an important role in much of the drama of my life. Over and over again I recognize the patterns that have occurred in my own life and the lives of those around me relating to fatherhood, and the various ways that the issue tends to manifest itself. I would like to talk at least briefly about a couple of those incidents.
This Sabbath at church, one of my dear little friends asked me a very intuitive and innocent question, but one that has been the source of a great deal of soul searching . The little three year old asked me why I didn’t have any kids. This is a question that may appear on the surface to be very simple but which has been connected for me with a wide variety of other related questions, including questions about relationships and marriage and family. I answered her question rather briefly by talking about my lack of opportunity in having a family, yet it struck me that my longings were obvious enough to be recognized by an astute but still very young three year old girl, a girl who still needs help having her cracker packages opened and likes to play with my tie and feel the stubble on my chin. If such aspects of my personality are obvious to a small child (albeit a clever one), they ought to be obvious enough to be recognized by everyone, with all of the potential for trouble that entails.
I am not particularly sure how to deal with being a focal point of father longings for other people. It is somewhat disorienting at times for me to be a comforting friend for ladies with family troubles, or as a potential babysitter for adorable children. After all, somewhat awkward men such as myself are not necessarily the most obvious people to have such opportunities, nor necessarily the best equipped to do such things naturally and effortlessly. It takes time and effort and practice to be skilled at dealing with people in a successful way paternally, and I must admit that such practice has been woefully lacking. Given the fact that I am fairly awkward in matters of the heart, especially courtship, my ability to practice the arts of family that generally result from successful courtship have similarly been delayed. Such matters do tend to fill my reflections, especially given that so much of my awkwardness is so open and obvious to a world that is not particularly gentle or understanding in such matters. I suppose that being a man often means dealing with such adverse circumstances, though, in an honorable way.
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