To celebrate Father’s Day, we contemplated what is the importance of a father in a child’s life? Or perhaps, what benefits do children reap from exposure to masculine energy?
“As early as 4 years old, children associate power and masculinity, even in countries considered to be more egalitarian like Norway.”
“It sounds so obvious, but too often we forget that the most important tool we have as a father isn’t what we know but how we show up... it’s turning off the TV and listening—really listening—to a child’s story. Personal growth is a lifelong commitment that not only benefits us but also offers a safe and empowering presence for our children as they begin their own exploration and mastery of themselves and their world.”
-Vince Isner from the Good Men Project
Masculinity, femininity, gender all exist on a spectrum. No one person is wholly feminine or masculine and there are plenty of people who don’t identify with either trait or their variations at all. So what is, in regards to the polar sides to that spectrum, the difference between male and female energy? And do children need to have both in their lives?
Families come in all forms and the freedom we have to know and be the kind of family we want to be is beautiful, empowering, and very much needed in this world. Within that freedom, we now see many same-sex women or genderless households raising questions around Father’s Day.
When we hire staff at our daycares here in Brooklyn, we make sure that there is a male teacher in all the classrooms. This does a few things. It first combats the notion that all caregivers are women and second, ups our children’s exposure to different energies on that spectrum. The children love it. The moment a male teacher arrives, they all become hyper-aware of where he is and all they want to do is play. If he sits down, they try to climb on him. It’s like they can sense that he wants to play with them. It’s quite a phenomenon.
When the female teachers ask the children to do something like go line up to wash their hands, sometimes it takes 2-3 times of repeating themselves before the children do it. The male teachers often just have to say it once. Is this because of those societal notions they’ve already internalized about the power structures of women and men? Is it that deep, authoritative sound that the children respond to? It’s another phenomenon.
All this is to say that variations in gender and the energies associated with them are good for kids. They are sensitive to the differences and since they instinctively crave a balanced world, they are drawn to them. LGBTQIA+ parents raise beautiful families often without a mother or a father. Those children get variety from their aunts, grandfathers, neighbors, teachers, and grow up to be worldly, loving, empathetic adults.
So Father’s Day, Uncle’s Day, Masculine Energy Day - have a happy one no matter how you celebrate!