Good night, sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite. Although told to me by my mother, this saying is ageless and forms the evening ritual I often use to put my children to bed. Yes, like many children their age, they fear the dark. Who knows, the boogieman may be in the closet or under their bed, or the unknown noise outside got their infinitely wandering and curious minds to develop a story about what strange creature may lurk outside the bedroom window. Still, nevertheless, the mission is set: get them to bed happy, content, and fear-free so that they can start the day off right, and you can finish the day’s work or have a few moments of relaxation to remember why you work so hard at this in the first place.
Is it Love? Yes. Is it work? Definitely. Exhausting at the minimum! A never-ending Groundhogs Day at its maximum. However, it is the most rewarding experience we will ever undertake to find the root meaning of masculinity.
So what drives the journey of the Modern-Day Mythic Father to engage in this heroic epic of epics? Simply put, our ability to engage forms the foundation of our mythopoetic and archetypal journey to understand and navigate our emotions in a way that creates good fruit in our everyday lives. Willpower is at the helm as we learn to overcome fear, face the daemons of our shadow, and push forward to be good men, husbands, and fathers, regardless if we had or did not have a positive father figure in our life.
Tonight, I was asked by my son to put him to sleep. Like many, he craves closeness when nighttime falls. Archetypal in nature, the night elicits inner fears regarding our capacity to control or not control the inner and outer landscapes that directly relate to our safety. Being his father, I comply but then become upset when he breaks a rule, wanting to disengage from my part of the deal.
Wrong? Maybe. Is there a lesson there? Probably! But that is yet to be determined. On my end, a child must learn about cause and effect, keeping one’s word, and learning the most essential skill we will ever develop: empathy. However, was the possible removal of myself as a safety object too harsh? That is yet to be determined. Nevertheless, the exchange got me to actively think about our conversation as well as my son, who, although may be unconscious of the lesson I attempted to teach, found a way to move us back to even.
While being a parent is difficult, it is essential to remember that even the parents spoken of in myths, fairytales, and world religions frequently were mediocre. It is the ritual or parenthood that counts. Our duty as fathers is to help children make sense of their inner workings and confront the fears elicited by their outside environment by showing continuity and closeness of the relationship. For our children, the ability to “walk a mile in your shoes” counts (both figuratively and literally), so they can develop a sense of internal and external mastery, self-esteem, and realize they are capable of the big things in life.