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Sunday 6.19.05: What fathers are good for

Father's Day is probably a good time to ask the question: what are fathers good for?

Some women will say only sperm donation and child support. And all you can wonder is what kind of jerks their fathers were.

In the Irish culture, men expect women to be wearing the pants in the family. But there are countless positive and negative ways this can play out. Irish fathers teach their daughters that they will be in charge. This might mean tremendous respect for their skills and talents. Or it might foreshadow her getting stuck with the full burden of the family while the da lives out his Peter Pan life at the local pub.

My grandmother Kitty Mom learned from her father that men are weak and can't be counted on. When her mother died and Moses was left in charge of 7 young children, chaos reigned. Alone among her siblings, Kitty figured out her path to successful adulthood. She married Tom Barrett, who (she must have thought) was the opposite of Moses Flanagan. Sadly, Tom Barrett died when she was still a young mother, which reinforced her worldview of the unreliability of men and her need to make her own plans.

Irish fathers teach their daughters that they will be in charge.

I was luckier. My father was always there, ready to be my chauffeur no matter how many sales calls he had to make. He taught me it was okay to be smart (as long as I wasn't an egghead). He taught me to expect respect from men. He taught me there was never any reason to feel abused by men.

This got me on a good course.

Thanks, Dad! And enjoy your Father's Day!




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