Sunday, November 29, 2015

Men and Emotions: A Conversation with my Dad

Since I don't drive, my dad always picks me up when I want to visit home for the weekend. During those hour long drives between Orlando and home we discuss anything from celebrity gossip to race relations in America. I had been reflecting a lot on the readings and videos about violent masculinity, and recently I decided to ask him about how he handles emotions. He's a very positive and kind-hearted person and always boasts about how much he loves life. He's always singing and dancing around the house and always has a ridiculous "dad joke" ready to go. I've never seen my dad stressed or sad or even a little gloomy. I definitely have never seen him cry.

To be honest, I expected him to pour out his soul and express the hardships of having to stifle his emotions. I expected him to say he wished he didn't have to hide how he felt and could have honest conversations about his feelings. However, that's not what I got. Instead, my dad just said he never really has bad days and that he can't recall ever feeling like life was beating him up. It's not even like he grew up exceptionally privileged, he genuinely just sees the good in every day. However, he did say that he doesn't think as a father, it'd be okay to cry in front of me or my sister. He said that it's a father's job to show strength and a kid seeing their father outside of that image would be frightening. My dad also mentioned that there are very few things in life a man should cry over. When I asked him why he felt that way he simply said "I don't know, that's just the way it is."

Some details of the conversation have been omitted in respect to my dad, but I've come to a couple conclusions:

1. My dad is either a happiness phenomenon or he's not being totally honest about never feeling sad (is that truly even possible?)

2. I somewhat agree that fathers showing weakness is a little scary for their children because we aren't used to seeing them that way. A lot of people see their dads as superheroes so when that idea is shattered it's a shock. However, does that mean that rule is right?

3. A lot of times when men are asked about the gender roles we are expected to live by, they think of them the same way my dad does. Society can change and the social rules we live by can change as well. By taking this class we're learning so many things that can be put toward positively changing our world.

All in all, I plan on revisiting this conversation with my dad and digging much deeper. For those of you who have fathers in your lives that you are comfortable having conversations like this with, ask him about how he handles his emotions and if he would ever cry in front of you. I hope you generate a healthy discussion about masculinity and learn more about your dad!

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