I am a sook. Yes, it is now out in the open. Everyone knows now! I rarely go a week without crying. Tears are an occupational health hazard if your mission is to turn the tide of fatherlessness. I am crying for others or crying for myself or maybe a bit of both. Sometimes it is hard to know. Did I say that tears are good for your health? Well, it is true.
Last week I was listening to some guys doing a panel on male sexuality and identity. They talked about the stereotype masculine man who loves hunting and loves killing animals. I thought back to when I was about 11 years old, living on a farm at North Richmond, west of Sydney. Some rabbit trappers came to our house and asked Dad if they could trap rabbits on the property. I followed them around and watched how they set up their traps and being a boy I copied them. I took pleasure in the chase. All men do.
I was so excited when I caught my first rabbit in my carefully laid trap. The only problem was I had to kill the rabbit. I was in a state of shock. I can still remember the small rabbit looking up at me wistfully as I brought the axe down on his head. I didn’t cry but I sure wanted to.
So for a long time I have realised that I am not your stereotypical male. I write songs and poetry. I paint pictures. I enjoy thinking and feeling and talking with others who do the same. Paul Whyte a long time leader in the men’s movement once told me that a Samurai Warrior could not be inducted as a true warrior until he could wield a sword well, and also write poetry.
At the time I remember thinking, “There is hope for me yet”. However the thought of killing people totally repulses me. I have always had pacifist leanings. That is why I was part of the anti-war movement in my youth. I have come to realise that war is one of those things that may be necessary in evil times. If we don’t stand for something we will fall for anything. Freedom, more often than not, is paid for by blood.
But, as I was saying, I am a sook and it is not hard for me to cry. I feel deeply about things. I have long suspected that most men do. In men’s gatherings and in our Dads4Kids Good to Great Courses I have seen many, many men cry and I have found it amazingly cathartic.
When another man cries, your own tears come easy, and so does your healing. Steve Blizard, a good friend of mine who works in the WA men’s movement as a counsellor, sent me this amazing article which shows we are not alone.
Men are more emotional than women, despite their protestations to the contrary, a “scientific experiment” on British fathers and mothers has found.
Men experience greater levels of emotion than women when presented with heart-warming material, according to the study for Royal Mail, which has used the findings to produce the “definitive” list of phrases for a successful Father’s Day card.
A group of 15 fathers and 15 mothers were presented with images and videos categorised into blissful, funny, exciting and heart-warming scenarios, such as a soldier returning from service and reuniting with his daughter, while their physiological reactions were measured using skin conductance electrodes.
Men demonstrated a marginally higher emotional reaction to the blissful, funny and exciting content compared to the women but responded twice as strongly as women when presented with heart-warming content.
An accompanying questionnaire found that even though the men reported feeling less emotion than the women, their physiological changes showed they felt emotion more strongly.
Mindlab founder and chairman Dr David Lewis said: “Gender stereotypes about men being stoic and women being emotional are reinforced by our day-to-day consumption of media and our social interactions.
“We tend to oversimplify and exaggerate the perceived differences between men and women and are more likely to focus on evidence that supports our existing gender stereotypes.
“This study suggests that men feel emotion just as much as women, sometimes more strongly, but are less willing to express these emotions openly due to expectations put on them by society.”
Royal Mail’s list of phrases for Father’s Day cards “that will tug at fathers’ heart strings” are ‘number one dad,’ ‘you’re my favourite person in the whole world,’ ‘I love you,’ ‘you’re the best,’ and ‘thanks for everything you’ve done for me.’
A survey of 2,000 men to support the experiment found 67 per cent thought they were more emotional than they appeared.
Some 40 per cent of 18 to 24-year-old men said they had cried in the last week and 64 per cent of all those questioned said they were surprised at how much emotion they felt when their child was born.
Lastly, let me share something with you to prove the point. Please check this amazing 60 second video called ‘Calls for Dad’. Then let me know how you feel, if you are able. It is one of those inspiring moments that unfolds as the clip goes on. 3,785,000 YouTube views can’t be wrong.
Firstly, I would love to know how you feel about the video?
Secondly, please share this video with your family and friends and ask them how it makes them feel.
Share it with the guys at work.
Ask them what their experience is after watching this superb piece of visual poetry.
Please send me your response by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
You never know, we might be all Samurai Warriors at heart.
Yours for more Samurai Warriors
PS. We celebrated world Fatherless Day last Friday. We also now have over 60 signatures on the Kids First Declaration. We need to give a voice to our children. We encourage you to sign the declaration if you haven’t already.
Like you, the team at Dads4Kids has been inspired by this YouTube clip. Dads4Kids would like to create a similar advert featuring Australian fathers playing with their children for Father’s Day, the first Sunday of September, to be shown on Australian free-to-air as a Community Service Announcement. That is one of the many reasons DAds4Kids is working hard at raising $50,000 by 30th June in our Dads4Kids ‘Help the Children’ End of Year Appeal. We urgently need your help. DONATE NOW.
So far we have raised $580.00. Dads4Kids has a long time supporter who has told us if we can raise $3,000 he will match it. In other words if you give $3,000 our long time supporter will match it and turn your $3,000 into $6,000. How exciting! How else are we going to turn the tide of fatherlessness and help our children?
Dads4Kids needs other donors who would like to add to our long time supporter’s donation of matching funds. This will encourage other donors to give more. Dads4Kids will be ecstatic and so will many children.
For more information about increasing our level of matching funds please send an email to: info@dads4Kids.org.au
You can ring through your donation via credit card during office hours on 02 42726677 or go online and DONATE NOW.