Why I would not make a good father

Why I would not make a good father

June 1, 2022 0 By Anton

In the third decade of the third millennium, fatherhood, like motherhood, is not valued in a society preoccupied with efficiency – a concept derived from the notion of “progress” that dominated the nineteen century, survived the two world wars and resurfaced as a strong political platform for the economies and societies of our time.

Consequently, one must take the mantle of career-making, of becoming an efficient actor in the economy, society or on the “international stage” as a thought leader (although, leading whom to what destination remains unknown), to move forward (always forward, eternity does not exist), pushing of improvement in all aspects of life but in those that really matter: spirituality, family, and nation (as understood by Herder and, to some extent, by Scruton).

Despite these distortions, the highest position a man can achieve in a community and, by implication, in a society is that of a father. Likewise, the highest title a woman can be blessed with is that of a mother. As a man, I cannot speak of what does it mean to be a mother – but I can speak of what it does mean to be a father, at least up to a point, and that point is the conclusion which lead me to the line that is the title of this essay: that I would not make a good father.

To be a father is the greatest responsibility – higher than the ruling of a state, higher than making scientific discoveries and, I dare to say, higher than fulfilling some metaphysical need. The latter factor listed is not random: metaphysical discomfort (that manifests through existentialist questions) can be, and often is, of the most importance for the survival of the individual. Suicide occurs when the hammering question of “Why” receives no answer.  

What makes a good father so important is his focus: it is not on something abstract, nor on some soulless object, but on the most vulnerable of all minorities: the child. Once a man becomes a father, his other duties and titles, ought to be secondary to taking care of the child, or children. This does not mean that the man ought to neglect his other duties, but only that the hierarchy of responsibilities changes: on top of his previews ones, a new set of duties is added, and which shall take primacy for many years to come.

Therefore, what makes a good father? Perfection is out of the question and should not be expected of anyone. Perfection is for God only, and we are not gods – if anything, we are more wicked in nature than otherwise. It takes considerable effort to overcome this part of our nature and even more energy to do so in a pragmatic manner, rather than through the medium of abstractions. Here then lies the first important quality of a good father: maturity of spirit and of mind.

Wisdom comes later in life for us all. However, a man, in my view at least, should not become a father in the absence of an understanding of oneself and, more importantly, in what that mastery of the self may look going forward, given the set of circumstances that he finds himself in shall change. In less abstract words, I believe that a man should understand first himself and then the world around him as much as he can – without deceiving oneself about his knowledge – before thinking of becoming a father. Importantly, if, while conducting this introspection, he concludes that he is not suitable to become a father, given the qualities discussed below, he should accept this for the sake of the unborn child.

It is from this self-reflection that I realised the statement in the title of the video: my own nature is incompatible with the qualities that are to be discussed next in so far as they are directed towards the outer world: my focus, almost in its totality, is on the inner realm. My propensity towards abstraction, my private relationship with ideas for the sake of ideas, the death and resurrection of the Aesthetic inside myself, the volatility of my thoughts which oscillate between dark misanthropy and pious monasticism, my inability to care about practical matters such as career or owning property, the chaotic approach to the world and, above all, the constant metaphysical revolt (not rebellion) with which I approach every aspect of reality and which requires me to perpetually tame this storm that wants to torn down the very soul of mankind, make me less than a suitable father.

Moreover, looking at the world around me, at the men and women of my age (the future “elite”), at the economic conditions, the numbing politics that galop towards more centralisation of power, the severe cultural decay due to the absence of the sacred and the obsession with progress that permeates every aspect of life, I would have to be dishonest, if not cruel, to bring a child into this unnatural society where the dominant force is the unimaginative, dull and thoughtless crowd that drains each person who is capable of being an individual of everything they have to become one.

The outer world is a reflection of the inner existence of man and looking out of my window I see a dying desert filled with the glitter of material lust and its by-products: things and more things that suffocate the forests and blacken the skies. But…despite all of this, I cannot but be fascinated by man – although, in an abstract form for I know not how to be a real man in this society.

Against this background, I must pledge faith and love in God so that I can have any hope, let alone love, for mankind – as a metaphysical necessity built upon the mightiest of all freedoms (the freedom of conscience); thus, the following qualities, which, in a good father ought to be masterfully intertwined and applied, are a swarm of highly charged particles inside me which I know that if I direct this cloud at anything else but for ideas, I can inflict considerable damage: out of carelessness rather than maliciousness.

Sacrificial love, moral standing, pragmatism, courage, manliness (father-like figure), a sense of duty and the capacity to bring and maintain stability are the most important qualities of a good father, when directed towards his woman and his child. However, I direct all of them towards the immaterial: there is no idea which I coward from, there is no thought or system of thought which I cannot penetrate, there is nothing I won’t sacrifice to preserve individual freedom, there is not a moment in which I will not affirm the essence of man over all tools – abstract or material – that aim to torn it to pieces. But this world of intellectual ghosts is of little practicality to a child.

A sense of duty and the ability to bring and maintain stability are directly related to how the man behaves towards his woman before having a child. To clarify – when I use the term “his woman” (or “her man”), I mean it in the reversed sense implied by the pronoun, namely that “my woman is the woman to whom I pledge myself, not the woman who belongs to me”. It is the person whom one loves that teaches one the sacrosanct nature of the individual, the invaluableness of human life. Love is the path towards the highest truth, thus it is only logical that it should also open our hearts and instil a sense of respect on which duty is founded upon. A man does or does not do certain things not because he cannot do them but because he refuses to do them out of duty, founded on respect, for his woman.

But this is not a matter of abstraction: it requires the acknowledgement of and the being in the presence of a woman; to live with her, to be her companion, to focus on her and to build a common vision of the future. None of this is possible with me for my eyes are permanently gazing at the ocean of ideas that sometimes is agitated, other times calm, occasionally the sun shines over it and at times it is drained by a cold, dark abyss. In other words, I feel that it is impossible for me to build a sense of duty and to provide and maintain any degree of stability in a relationship as my mind and heart do not belong to another person but to abstractions, which are not necessarily without value. Far from it: certain abstractions (such as principles and ideals, or virtues and truths) are the building blocks and the shaping tools of human nature, but you cannot feed on them, or cloth with them or cuddle underneath them.

And yet, I cannot cure myself of my desire to understand the mystery that man is. This interest (at times a true passion) requires consistent focus: reading, writing and thinking. Although, I know that I will never peer into the core of this mystery in its fullness, that man will always remain an unsolved puzzle. Still, as Dostoevsky explained, it is not a waste of time to still try and solve this mystery: how these enigmatic modes of being – love, loneliness, suffering, good and evil, virtues and vices, reason and irrationality – collide and unite themselves with one’s mind, body and soul, with the surroundings and the times in which one lives and produces this universal and yet infinitely unique creature called “man”, this provides a source of great entertainment and tragedy for me from which I extract sufficient meaning.

From the relationship with the woman, with the mother, the other qualities of a good father take form. How the man treats the woman demonstrates his moral standing, his sense of duty, his capacity to make a bit of order out of the unbelievable chaos of the world, his ability to sacrifice his desires, wants and even wellbeing for her, all these virtues and behaviours will be transferred towards the child once he or she is born. However, for this to happen, a relationship that eventually evolves into marriage ought to happen.

This bond between two people has always been more platonic than sensual for me: I have always been more interested in love rather than in making love. The idea of a family, not the family is what interests me, and not because I do not put any value on sex or on family life, but it is because I am not practical enough, so these two notions do not materialise: sex does not become sexual, and the family never becomes a family. Therefore, my propensity towards the abstract – which now has reached its full form in the terms of metaphysical observations in the realm of theology – is what ultimately prevents me from building what is rightly deemed a normal relationship: my mind will never be at another person as it is at ideas.

Nevertheless, this dwelling in the realm of abstractions has also provided me with a keen understanding of the power that ideas have in building or destroying human beings: moral ideals are abstract notions that are never meant to be achieved for they embody perfection but they are the highest good and without their existence human beings denigrate below animals; on the negative side of abstractions, to bring the tools of dealing with ideas in the realm of the material is to wreak havoc on the body, mind and community of men (as example, take the use of the dialectic which was applied by Marxists to the relationships between human beings and even on the human being itself – to “explode” it).

Additionally, my courage is to do as I wish, in the name of principles and ideals, and not to put up with the world in order to create some sort of stable co-existence in which children can be brought into. When this is coupled with my lack of interest in a career and in owning property, it means that my existence can be volatile, and it would not be fair to the other person who wants to build a common future to be dragged into a maelstrom. My appetite for risk and the latent self-destructive attitude do not make me a suitable “source” of stability either.

My love is of love itself, not of another person, my courage is for the courage’s sake, not for another person, my pursuit of morality is in the name of principles and ideals, not of people, simply put: I am not a real man in society.

When I look at a child, I do not see what any good father ought to see: the centre of his universe, but just another child – any child – while I ponder why the architecture of our modern world is so disgusting, why ugliness penetrates so many aspects of our lives, why so many are wilful slaves, why am I so arrogant and pathetic, why this or that, or what spiritual beast will spawn from the bottomless catacomb in which man threw himself in the twentieth century when nihilism ravaged everything and totalitarianism crushed his soul…what kind of father am I supposed to be? Distracted at best, careless at worst.

As I stated above, to be a father is the greatest responsibility because a new life has been entrusted to you for guidance. It is clear to me that I am incapable of such responsibility.