2014. Fathering: New Thoughts on It

  • The essence of mother-love is unconditional respect for the child. The essence of father-love is conditional respect based on a mix of four ingredients. 1) The actions he takes to fulfill his sense of duty for raising his offspring. Feelings follow actions and so actions program his heart. 2) The respect the child earns in the father’s eyes. Men don’t respect without reason. Boys don’t either, but before puberty they learn to copy their mother’s respect for others. 3) Fathers respect for the mother is sufficient that he doesn’t want to disappoint her or let her think him incapable or insignificant.
  • Fathers enforce mom’s teaching of obedience but they lack unconditional respect for the child; their respect revolves naturally around kids doing what mom or dad expects. When involved to impose discipline on children, men are more energized to appreciate and preserve their own self-respect than respect the culprit they face. Consequently, a natural gap exists between a woman’s urge to unconditionally respect a child and a man’s expectation that respect be earned. Mom more easily than dad earns a child’s respect. As with men, a boy’s love is founded on respect for the love object. So, son loves father proportional to his respect for dad, which emanates from dad’s trust for son.
  • From toddlerhood to adulthood, children learn to respect others according to the trust they are shown as self-developers. (Boys try it independently and learn by mistakes but girls seek guidance to avoid mistakes.) To the extent they are trusted as self-developers, kids view themselves respected as a person, a boy or girl, and as a member of the family in that order. Later in life, boys self-develop as fathers, which requires they shift roles and give trust to earn the respect of children. (Demanding respect before trusting kids torpedoes the long-range interest of fathers; kids learn not to trust dad.)
  • Consequently, the road of true father-love loops from endless trust for child’s self-development to ever-growing respect for father. Around and around it loops and gathers emotional momentum. But the loop needs an on-ramp. Since a man’s love builds on a foundation of respect, fathers enter the fray awkwardly. They must trust the child first if they are to be respected. (It reminds of this: Wife must first trust husband, if she expects to be respected with emotional faithfulness. Mutual love grows out of trust and respect continually uplifted with both parties adding energy with new initiatives.)
  • Greater trust of child generates greater respect for father, which encourages father to serve better as near-nurturer to the toddler, leader of the prepubescent, and coach to the teen.



Filed under sex differences

8 responses to “2014. Fathering: New Thoughts on It

  1. Shanna

    Interesting! Your first bullet point explains how some men can have virtually no relationship with their children after a parting or divorce.

  2. Lauren

    I rarely comment, but I must respectfully disagree with some of the thoughts in this post. Based on my observations and training in the child and family mental health field, I would put forth that fathers who are not willing or capable of having unconditional love and respect for their offspring did not learn that from their own fathers. What you are putting forth would suggest that that behavior be perpetuated to the detriment of the child, the father and the family unit. Children are born as clean slates and quickly bond with primary caretakers–whether those caretakers are competent, loving or not. That bond is very difficult to break. Even the most horribly abused children will choose to be returned to abusive families. However, they will grow to replicate those same parenting behaviors.

    Men who choose to abdicate the care and bonding to the mothers are choosing to have the child earn his love and respect. This in turn teaches the child that he or she is “not good enough” as they are but must earn love. Children require that both parents be present and engaged. If we don’t teach our sons that it is ok to love and be loved by both parents from the very beginning, we will continue to have men who leave their children both physically and emotionally. Thus, the cycle continues. I am pretty sure our maker intended that both parents love and respect their children unconditionally or He would have made human reproduction asexual.

    The fact that a father’s love and respect for his child would be conditional is an indication to me that there are underlying needs of the father being unfairly placed on the child.

    Your Highness Lauren,

    In spirit I agree with you 100%, but disagreement dangles on a complex knot hanging on a thin thread. We part ways on this distinction. My article above describes the male nature as observed in fatherhood. Your comment describes the female interest to generate better parenting. (A very worthwhile and well written effort too).

    However, “both parents love and respect their children unconditionally” is impractical as it misleads about the nature of men. So, I find it needful of explanation.

    My challenge twists around this dangling knot of a complex term, ‘unconditional love and respect’. “Our maker” designed the sexes differently and so parental life doesn’t have the male input quality that mothers provide, you desire, and women often crave. The male input quality is missing at a boy’s birth; men are born incapable of unconditional love and respect. My article reveals how the male nature reveals itself as men operate as fathers.

    Pregnancy and the birthing experience hardwire mothers for unconditional love and it overwhelms respect in whatever form. Love stimulates giving but respect does not. From their own birth, respect is much less important than love to women and subsequent childbirth reinforces that priority. Women can love without respecting but men can’t and don’t.

    Men inherit this condition at birth. They lack emotional connection to offspring until it develops as the result of human interaction, lessons learned. Parents, teachers, pastors, and women preach/encourage/reward/demand an emotional connection. Or, mothers deny/isolate/sue/prevent access and fathers become strongly motivated to treat mother as the enemy with children as battleground. Either way stirs more masculine interest in offspring than comes with their nature. IOW, lessons learned in life cause men to devote their lives to the betterment of offspring.

    Men are made too differently to love as mothers do, desire, and deserve. However, men are capable of loving and respecting conditionally just as women do with other than birth children. Freely, yes. Sparingly, yes. Committedly, yes. Devotedly, yes. Totally, yes. Apparently unconditional, yes. But actually unconditional? No, men are not capable!

    Women love but respect isn’t a critical condition. However, men have a different instinct that protects them against betrayal. They use respect as the measuring stick to guide how much love to give. Men love based almost solely on their respect for the love object, which has to grow first. Manly love comes after masculine respect.

    And so, Lauren, were I to rewrite your sentence, I would rephrase it as italicized. “I am pretty sure our maker intended that mothers love and respect their children unconditionally and fathers love and respect their children devotedly or He would have made human reproduction asexual.” After all, fathers are very capable of devoted love to offspring. When you see good examples, it appears much like the unconditional love that mothers have and women admire. But it never measures up to the quality of mother-love although one father may outshine one mother.


    Parenthetically venturing into some politics of it, when women look for men to love unconditionally and men can’t do it, then men can be made to be always in the wrong. Incapable of loving as mothers do, all parental weaknesses and poor results can be twisted into lack of father’s unconditional love and respect, which of course, only mothers know what it is. Thus, mothers look their best while fathers look their worst. It’s right out of the leftist political handbook; make an enemy of the opposite sex.


    • Lauren

      Your Highness Lauren,
      It’s a good example of devoted love triggered by denied access and other interferences in his life with offspring.

      • MLaRowe

        He is deeply and understandably passionate about his dear son and the wrongness of the situation. Such heartfelt pain in this speech.

        I’d like to say something (hopefully helpful) on the race issue he also presented here.

        There is a book called Making Ends Meet: How Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low Wage Work by two researchers named Edin and Lein. In it they describe their scientific study (spanning 5 cities if I remember correctly).

        They made a discovery in their findings that impoverished men of African American descent were actually more (financially and otherwise) involved with their children than their economically equal counterparts of other races.

        When I read that I was so excited I wanted to get up on a roof and yell, “Hey World the myth about the black male as a deadbeat dad is completely false and this proves it!”

        Thanks for sharing that video even though I’m sad now from having watched it.

    • My Husband's Wife

      Dear Sir Guy (and Lauren),

      Good morning! I see Lauren brought up some interesting points that made me think on this and I have a question as a result:

      Would it be, that nature/biology is what makes men conditional and women unconditional regarding love–without religion or beliefs being interjected?

      We can’t deny the fact that women produce oxytocin while breast feeding–the “bonding” hormone and she has carried the baby for NINE MONTHS in her womb. Her “love” is/looks much different than his as a result. Which is what Sir Guy might be referring to? There is truly a difference between male/female parent and their type of love toward child?

      Also, Look how many women vs. men are into babies and holding them when someone else’s baby is around at the store or church. There’s a crowd of women that are in line to hold the baby. The father/men simply don’t not have this sort of a connection to children/babies that a mother/women do. It doesn’t mean a strong like/love/connection doesn’t or can’t exist from a father though toward his offspring though…

      Where I might disagree as well with the word “conditional” love from father (as Lauren objects as well) is because of my own example for a father–BUT this could be a case that my dad’s religious beliefs were injected into him by his family. I would say he was “unconditional” (as much as humanly possible). Even though us girls would get in trouble, he clearly communicated that didn’t change his love for us, he forgave us and he accepts us AS-IS despite our wrong doings and to this very day. He was definitely the spiritual head of the house, beliefs stronger than my mom’s too. So is this a case of “religion/beliefs” overriding hormones/nature? Without his strong values/beliefs, would he be able to love in such as way? I almost don’t think so.

      As for my mother I would also say her love is unconditional, too–BUT, my mom’s love does seem quite different from his love though. His love was more detached and her love was way more intimate/emotional and all of us children feel “closer” to her to this day. Something tells me that my mom would still love us the same way—even if she didn’t have her religious beliefs to back her up.

      BUT, in full agreement with Lauren that ideally having an “unconditional” father is best. But then–how is that achieved? I believe through adopting strong values / morals / religious beliefs. And hey, here we come full circle back to what made America great—strong families with religious beliefs at the core.

      As for adopted children: I also believe that children can be adopted and bond just fine too with a family and parents bond with the child…as fortunately we have a great ability to develop love/connection with others. Yet if the child finds out they’re adopted, more often than not, something in them always seems to want to know their bio family—this is also the case for women who give up their children as well. Some men wonder too about children given up, but it’s definitely not as strong as the mom’s desire to “know” their child or child knowing mother.

      P.S. My religious beliefs see the only true “unconditional” love as the love God showed sinners by sending Jesus to save us. After knowing such unconditional love and grace, we can’t help but extend it towards others—which my parents have done to the best of their imperfect ability. Thank God for forgiveness…forgiveness which was extended in every direction in our family (God to us, then parents to children, children to parents, siblings to siblings). It makes each day new with grace abounding.

      Your Highness My Husband’s Wife,

      Well written, very clear, very astute.

      Yes, “nature/biology is what makes men conditional and women unconditional regarding love…”

      Yes, bonding in and after the birth. Don’t forget this: The pain of giving birth has a tremendous bonding effect, perhaps it’s what seals the deal of unconditionality (to develop a new word).

      Adding to your father’s conditional love, it appears that his sense of ‘ownership’ and leadership responsibility played a major part.

      Yes, mom’s unconditional love arises with her first born and God’s follows when born again. They are uniquely different from the rest of us.

      Thank you for a valuable comment.


    • MLaRowe

      This reminds me of something that Phillip Yancy (a Christian writer) said about Christianity in Japan. He said that the Japanese understand the concept of having to earn love (Father love) but that what is missing is the unconditional (Mother) love that is also supposed to be part of the Christian experience. He said they didn’t see/feel that generally in their understanding of Christianity and that this was the important part of what was missing in their understanding of what Christianity is supposed to be.

      Just another idea pointing to men and women loving their offspring differently and this being a rather natural occurrence.

      In my house I think it’s both an upbringing difference between my husband and I as well as the differences between the sexes. Yet I believe that his approach (even though it doesn’t match mine) can be very valuable and important to my children. He is more demanding and gives in less than I do. His expectations are higher than mine. Hopefully there is some balance.

    • My Husband's Wife

      Dear Sir Guy,

      Wow! What a beautiful explanation helping me understand this dynamic between the sexes and parenthood that was a bit fuzzy for me.

      I especially think this sentence is the key to understanding the difference is this quote: “I am pretty sure our maker intended that mothers love and respect their children unconditionally and fathers love and respect their children devotedly or He would have made human reproduction asexual.”
      Our Maker created differences so that we’d need to rely on each other and help each other—whether it comes to parenting or work or living in general.

      By-the-way, I have a niece who is struggling greatly with her step-father: at every turn she thinks he should relate to her and others with the warm fuzziness in which her mom does. What’s sad is that her mom is the same way towards him as well. It’s causing so much tension between them all.
      This is getting forwarded onward!!!! Maybe someday it will sink in…

      • My Husband's Wife

        oops, first sentence in second paragraph should not be there!

        Your Highness My Husband’s Wife,

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