I have an optimistic view of mankind. Despite all the fake news, climate change and different threats against our environment. I still believe in us. Feel free to call me naive but I hope we can learn and improve and that we, working together, can make the world a better place for future generations.
Lately, I have been thinking about how I myself can go about to achieve this. How can I become a better man than my father?
During Christmas, while I went up north to see my parents I decided to think about this question. My father is retired now. One of those old men that sit the whole morning with the newspaper (the printed version) and a cup of coffee in the local café. He goes fishing. He plays golf. In many ways, he has always been a man’s man.
His favorite thing to do is to go for long walks with his dog Chef. I think I can start right there. Because Chef seems to get more love and attention than I ever received. My dad had expectations of me. I often made him disappointed. I understand him, but I still wish he could have shown me more compassion. Instead, growing up, I got endless monologues about his expectations of me. He wanted me to study harder, to help him and my mother more. I never felt that I was enough.
After seeing him with Chef, I know he is capable of unconditional love.
When I asked him about this, he simply said that it wasn’t the way he had grown up. No one was affectionate back then and he just did things the way he himself had been brought up. When I get children, I plan to do things differently, thus becoming a better man than my father.
Follow my Passion
As I and my sisters were growing up, he was always taking pictures of us and of mum. I guess that was his way of showing love. In the basement, he built his own darkroom. How far away this seems, those pictures hanging in the dark, waiting for the chemical process to take place.
When I think about it now, he was passionate about a lot of things. But he wasn’t a free man. As an engineer, he worked at the same place during his entire work life. 49 years to be exact.
Everything he loved was just a hobby.
He enjoyed his work, but when I asked him, he said that he always counted the hours. That he always looked forward to the weekend and to the next holiday. And the last 10 years of his professional life he looked forward to retiring.
I asked him why he didn’t simply quit. He didn’t understand the question. Working was what was expected of him.
Work-wise I can’t imagine having the same life as he had. The longest I have stayed in the same workplace has been two years. Now I’m freelancing. I try to be open and welcoming to the world, and all new ideas in a way he never managed to be. I think that is one of the ways I can become a better man than him.
Take Care of my Health
He never took care of his health. If you up to this point imagined him as a slender man you are unfortunately wrong. He hated exercise. He smoked and he drank, and he liked to eat. Nowadays he has quit smoking, but I can still see the effect it made on him. His heavy breathing. Despite only being in his early seventies he moves slowly and with hesitation.
I plan to exercise every day for the rest of my life. To keep your body in good condition, you have to keep moving. When I tell him this, he just shrugs, and in this way, we will never be the same.
Educate my daughter
He treated my sisters differently. He adored them. But he didn’t teach them things the same way he always insisted to teach me things. He taught me how to take care of the car, changing a flat tire on my bike, fix a leaking roof.
He probably just assumed my sisters would get husbands and their husbands would do all those things. The joke is on him, or maybe on me. Because both my sisters are still single and now they call me when they need things done. Thanks, dad.
If I have daughters, I will make sure to teach them everything I know. I will try to treat them exactly the same way that I will treat my sons (if I have sons). My friend who already has children tells me this is going to be difficult, but I’m going to do my best.
Talk About Sex
My father and I never talked about sex. I don’t remember a single instance when he sat me down and explained how things worked. I understand he was embarrassed. But if you choose to have children, once they reach a certain age, you should be prepared to teach them exactly how children come into this world.
And not only the technicality of the whole thing. You should also teach them about the pleasure of sex.
My parents probably trusted the school system to explain how things worked. But that education was limited to how to use condoms and how to absolutely not get each other pregnant. It was about fear rather than pleasure. Instead, I learned about sex by hearing older guys talk about their conquests, real or imagined. My other source of education was a stack of porn magazines hidden in the forest behind our school.
This lack of knowledge led to me having a hard time talking about sex, according to my girlfriend, and frankly and sadly, it also led to a lot of shame regarding sex. When I was naked with a woman for the first time I felt completely lost, and on top of that, I felt ashamed over my own ability. Men are expected to know about sex, but we never get a good education on the subject. If you are still struggling with how to satisfy a woman (and who doesn’t) there are great articles that you can learn from.
If I get children, I will do my best to try and tell them about sex. Everything they need to know at a suitable age. I know it will be hard for me, but I also know that this is one of the ways I can become a better man than my father.
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