Provider, Protector and Professor. The Role of Man Part 2: The Professor

This is the second of a new series on the role of men in a family unit, regardless of what forms that family takes.  These are based on the historical role of men from early tribal, hunter-gatherer societies and are still pertinent in this advanced day and age.  Read Part 1.

Our current society has pushed many men into doing far more as part of their family than their fathers ever did.  Men have evolved into primary caregivers for their young children as well as cooking and cleaning around the house.

Photo by starmanseries
Photo by starmanseries

However, one of the traditional roles of the father is that of teacher.  This role has seemingly been invalidated by society as a whole, and just looking around, we can see the results.

People tend to think of the education of a child as taking place in school.  That’s where we send them to learn about mathematics, geography, art, music, and literature among other things.  That is where they go to learn, so that’s where they’re educated.

However, most people also realize on a deeper level, one they tend to forget about, that children also learn at home.

A child who is raised in an abusive home is far more likely to become abusive himself, for example.  We know this, yet we forget that children do actually learn at home, even if they’re not homeschooled.

Yet today, divorce is common and statistically, women get custody of their children in the majority of cases.  That means women are the primary teachers for their children.

And that’s not a good thing.

Women are wonderful beings and capable of many things, but they’re not men.  They can’t be masculine role models.  Yes, some males can’t either, but we’re not talking about them.  We’re talking about actual men here.

In married couples, both parents tend to take on the role of teaching their offspring various things.  They naturally split the responsibilities based on their own levels of expertise.

Additionally, they teach simply by being the role models for stable, normal people that their children adopt.

There’s a reason that many boys grow up to marry someone much like their mother.  Mom is the female role model, the ideal version of the feminine.  Yes, this is true even if Mom is a 6-foot tall bodybuilding firefighter.  This is what boys often pick up and idealize.

The same is true of men.  Young girls often want a guy like dear old Dad.  The man in a family is essentially teaching his daughters what kind of man she should be looking for in a potential mate.

Sobering thought for all you out there with daughters, isn’t it?

Don’t feel bad.  It’s the same way for me too.  I’ve got a four-year-old daughter myself.

It means we all probably should step up our own game and make sure we’re the kind of guys we’d want brought home to us.

But that’s the easy part.

It’s with our boys that we really have our work cut out for us.

Male offspring are often looked at with a thrill shooting through our bodies.  Our name will be carried on, and for some of us, our boys represent our chance to get it right.

Realistically, our sons are different people in different times, so just because you were a stud at basketball doesn’t mean your son will have any interest.

But you teach them anyway.

It’s with our male children that fathers tend to focus so much attention.  It’s not because our daughters are any less valued — they’re not.  Instead, it’s because we instinctually understand that it’s our role to teach them how to become men.

The trick is, we teach them directly and by being a role model for them to emulate.

For example, I’m a smart alec.  I’m pretty quick with a smart remark in almost any situation.  I learned it from my father.

My son has learned it from me.

I didn’t teach him the nature of the smart remark.  There were no formal lessons on how to develop the quip.  He just learned it from watching me and, before I knew it, he could fire back with the best of us.

Which, of course, started proper instruction on just when to do something like that.

The point is, he learned that men make smart remarks.  Is that part of the essence of man?  Hardly.  Some might argue these remarks make us less of men, perhaps.  However, he learned it because I provided the template for him to follow.

Historically, men routinely taught their children how to do the day to day tasks that men simply needed to know.  How to change a tire.  How to cut the grass.  Whatever.

This is a good and righteous role for men.

Society has changed a bit though.  Many of these lessons that are being taught to sons also need to be taught to daughters.

Once upon a time, a man could trust that his daughter would bring home a man who understood all these things already.  After all, his father would teach him.  If there was no father for some reason (most commonly, the father died in those days), a grandfather would step in and serve that role.

Those days are gone.

Today, your daughter may bring home a guy who may want to be a man in every way, but lacked role models.  He may well lack an understanding about how to change a tire, or how to cut the grass.  Yes, this happens.  Pathetic, isn’t it?

“But didn’t you say daughters would bring home someone like you?”

No, I said you were teaching them the kind of man to bring home as a potential mate.  Daughters are individuals with their own thoughts on things.  You can’t force them to bring home a certain kind of guy.

That’s why you need to arm them as much as possible.  Teach them how to do all those things as well, that way you don’t need to sweat the small stuff later on.  She won’t be nearly as likely to call you from the middle of nowhere because she has a flat tire.  She’ll just change it herself and move on.

The man who isn’t in a family is still a professor, however.

If he has young family members such as nieces and nephews, he will be another role model for the young relations.  Depending on how often they see him, his role in their development could be significant.

Additionally, the children of female friends may also see him and adopt him as a male role model.

None of this takes into account men who willingly put themselves in roles to become role models such as volunteering as scout leaders or sports coaches.

Men should always try and keep in mind the image they present.  You are the professor, after all.  Society’s young will learn from you, whether you want them to or not.  Be careful with what you teach them.

Author: Tom

Tom is a husband, father, novelist, opinion writer, and former Navy Corpsman currently living in Georgia. He's also someone who has lost almost 60 pounds in a safe, sustainable way, so he knows what he's talking about.

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