ALITTLE while ago in an evening paper a humorous article appeared entitled " Papahood is Actually Being Taught To-day." It was a. skit on a school for fathers which, it seems, has just been opened in a London suburb.
In England a school of this kind would he a boon to humorists, which is something to be thankful for, even if our humour is tinged with regret at the necessity for such a school.
Here And There
On the Continent, as a rule, fatherhood is accepted more naturally—a paternal feeling is taken as much for granted as a maternal feeling--Continental fathers are not at all ashamed (in fact they are proud) to wheel the perambulator or to carry baby in their arms down a crowded street. They feel no awkwardness about blowing baby's nose. or even about more intimate tasks. The net result is an ease and fearless relationship between father and children.
Sonic Anglo-Saxon men seem to fear a loss of " masculine superiority' if they should be caught " playing the nursemaid." The fear is generally disguised by a playful role of being too beg and clumse (in fart too thoroughly "masculine") to deal with a baby or small child.
Which end do you pick it up by?" " Suppose it. conies to pieces in my hands?" are delightfully "masculine sentiments."
The real fear—that of being considered less than a man—is often masked be a pretended, or self-suggested fear of the baby. Awkwardness and fear in the father can hardly be expected to induce confidence in the child.
Yet a confident and fundamental adjustment to the father is one of the important steps in the child's adjustment to the community. Lack of this adjustment may have far-reaching and unfortunate effect on the child's character and on its future.
The Wife's Task
In such cases of " the maladjusted father " it is the wife's role to eradicate his hidden fears, and help the mutual adjustment of father and children. Her own ideaa as to what a " real " man' should be will do much to determine the success of this undertaking. If she has the right point of view herself she will be able to suggest it to him also, as being really more admirably masculine than any faked incompetence. (Of course, if she tries to impose too ninny irksome duties she will defeat her own end.) Some mothers, who shirk personal reeponsibility, use the father as a bogey-man. Any unpleasant rule or prohibition is attributed to the father's authoritative will. He is used as a. threat in any tussle between the mother and children. A continued representation of the father as an inflexible master to the chTh; dren will certainly prevent any, proper adjustment. The mother may' be saving herself trouble at the moment--shemay represent hersei as a pleasant contrast to the ogre og, the house—but she is doing her' children very real and lasting harin merely because she is not emotion ally " grown up " enough to accepti her immediate responsibility. In many cases the mother, almost consciously. tries to keep the children? for herself. Mother is always' present, and father, who seas less of' the children and perhaps tends to' spoil them, is a novelty to therni Some mothers feel a certain jealosy at the easy, sometimes irresponeible way in which the father seems t capture more of the children's love.
The Over-Indulgent Father
An over-indulgent father can he d drawback to the child's training. Oa. the other hand, the mother may be too severe, or perhaps severe in the wrong way. An attempt by the wife to understand both her hashand'o' and her earn conscious and unccm4 SCi0116 point of view would be thd best basis on which to build up a co-ope retie() syetem of upbringing which is so essential for the c,hiltL After all, it is the child's chafe acter and its future which are at
Stake. It is the ehiki who well suffer if both parents rigidly insist on their Own divergent methods.
The wife who pampers her husband can seriously hinder his and the children's mutual ad j ustmeat.
" Don't worry daddy, he is tired-' " Shl don't made a noise, daddy im home." The hundred and one little ways in which the importance of the father's comfort is Oveir-emphssised
tend to create a fee arag of rebellion.
and so a gulf between father and
children. Of course, the children must learn to respect their father': rest and fomfort, but in a balancer: proportion and as part of the respece
for the comfort of their mother anc others—in fact, as part of theit general adjustment to the corn mun it y. The child's first active relationshis is with its mother, but very Boon i should learn to establish a wel adjusted relationship with its tether not only because of the immediat, benefits, hut. chiefly because this is am important step in its eutotional de velopmeat. If there are difticultie in the way it is the mother's role b smooth them out.
Patienee and tact, besides detached study of the real and inne reasons for these difficulties may b neeeesary. The mother ...Joust b ready to see her own unconeciou diteleeeties etsieles those of the Lathe and the child.
The actual adjtestment may requir quite a lot of diplomacy, and eet tainly will require a non-egoisti attitude on the part of the moilee• But surely all this is worth while ft the sake of the child's future, an incidentally for the cake of pelmet harmony in the home.