Temet Nosce

Piecing together the puzzle of mythology and the human condition

The End of the Family Line

Posted on June 21st, 2015 by Thomas Ryan

I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings about Fathers Day. It’s hard to say I’m thankful for my father. When I was a kid, the most positive male role model I had was a fictional character in ridiculous blue tights and a red cape.

As I wrote once before, my brother and I didn’t need a bogeyman to fear, because the most terrible monster we knew sat with us at the dinner table. But now I know he took much worse abuse from his parents, so these days I pity him more than I resent him. He had a poor example to follow, and I think…I hope…that deep down he was doing the best he could to raise us right.

He was certainly a better father than a lot of kids have. At least he was still around until I was 14, and tried to teach me some things. I am thankful. But those lessons came along with a lot of cruelty. Because I’ve seen the damage done by a bad example, I have little faith in myself to take on the same job. I’ve avoided marriage and fatherhood because I don’t want to repeat his mistakes. I’d rather have no wife or family at all than to risk carrying on this wake of destruction and disappointment that stretches back so many generations.

Now I’m getting older, looking down the barrel of 40, my regret about that is coming out in weird ways. My hero complex is merging with a presumably instinctive paternal impulse, and I sometimes butt in where I’m not asked, trying to provide a good example for friends’ sons who don’t have a dad or a stepdad around. I’m having difficulty reconciling my compulsion to do some good in this world by offsetting the damage done by all abusive and absentee fathers, with society’s perfectly reasonable expectation that I not be a nosy creep.

I used to wonder whether I was good enough. Now I wonder whether I’ve waited too long to figure it out. I wonder whether it’s better to direct my paternal instincts where they belong, or if it’s okay instead to remain simply A Friend.

About Thomas Ryan

Tom Ryan is a Freemason of both blue and red lodges, including the Silas Shepherd Lodge of Research. He is the founder and primary author of TemetNosce.org.

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2 Responses to “The End of the Family Line”

SomedayJune 22nd, 2015 at 2:28 PM

I have complete faith that you would not repeat your father’s mistakes . . . you would make new and exciting mistakes of your own. 😉

RiverOctober 19th, 2015 at 2:07 PM

Without those father substitutes and mother substitutes (“additional caring adults”), even the brief ones, I would have grown up with even more stunted ideas.

So, do cultivate relationships where and when appropriate. Society may not understand your choice not to have kids(refusing a companion if you do desire one is your own self limitation though), but it’s silly to believe that only your own biological children are an appropriate outlet for your desire to uplift and mentor. The nuclear family is a product of the current time and economic system more than anything else. It does take a village, even when both parents are healthy and around.