Dear Dads, Papas, Appas, Babas…
We love you.
For some strange reason guys don’t say it or hear it much, but it’s really true. You mean the world to us.
We know you have a lot of stereotypes to either fend off or live up to (depending on the moment), but under all that – we see you. The real you. Not the pumped-up-with-testosterone you, or the can’t-show-emotion you, or the gotta-stay-strong you, or the don’t-need-any-help-or-directions you.
Nope. We’re not fooled by those masks.
We see the real you – the one who is afraid sometimes. The one who will sing “I’m a little teacup” (with the hand motions) in a restaurant to make your kiddo smile. The one who tears up when we look at that old photo. Yep. The you who is human. Real. Perfectly flawed. Vulnerable. And by the way, we noticed you fixed the door hinge so it wouldn’t squeak and wake us up when you leave early for work. You care.
Why does our culture impose these tough, violent, emotionless, burl-and-brawn stereotypes onto our men and boys?
It’s what William Pollack, PhD, calls the “boy code,” the persistent, largely unspoken but pervasive belief that we should bring up boys to be stoic, to hide their feelings, and to become quickly independent of their parents (their mothers especially). In short, not to be like girls. As Valerie Monroe says so articulately in this article, “We know what we get when a boy is raised with the code – a mask of masculinity, false bravado, the need to be aggressive and to win, and to ignore or repress feelings of vulnerability. These are the men who seem strong but who are, ironically, weakest in many ways because they’re hiding or are unaware of their neediness and are poorly equipped to engage in any kind of honest relationship.”
Boys who’ve been given affection, love, respect, compassion, and the permission to feel everything and to express those emotions without shame grow up to be whole men, not unconsciously seeking what they needed from their parents.
What about those men that weren’t given this gift as children?
We see you. That true, authentic self is in there. You are human and we love you for it. Put down the masks. It may take more effort and more conscious choices, but vulnerability fosters connection. And the world needs connection more than ever – especially with that deep, true, bass note, authentic, kind male energy. One of my favorite quotes lately is:
It takes discipline to be a free spirit. – Gabrielle Roth
Thank you for letting your authentic spirit be free and shine brightly in this world.
Happy Father’s Day!
**In honor of and gratitude for all the papas out there, I’m offering free shipping on all “father” related images in my shop now through Father’s Day.