Torsten Klaus is an Author, Parenting Coach and Stay-at-home Father. Here he sets out his vision for a revolution in the way society sees fatherhood and how fathers see themselves.
-- This is article #49 in our series of #100Voices4Men and boys
My father did a lot for me and my sister. He bought us the latest toys (which was quite a challenge growing up and living in East Germany), he worked long hours and many weekends, he supported me financially when I went through rougher times of life. I'm thankful for that. Something was missing though. Something very important: emotional closeness and openness. We never talked. We never managed to establish a relationship in which we would share our innermost emotions, feelings, aspirations or dreams.
It took me a long time to come to terms with that. And even longer to realise how important it is to talk, to reflect and to open up. Not only for my sake. No, for the sake of my children, my partner and our relationship, friends, colleagues and somehow for the sake of society.
So why is it so important to have good, honest conversations with your father? I believe it’s about being authentic and empathic. Our journey as humans starts with trusting some very special people – our parents. From our parents we learn - through observing and copying. With their guidance we explore and discover. We try and fail. We try again and may succeed.
'Society is ripe for a new generation of fathers'
I wished I had the chance to talk to my father. I wished he had taught me how to be more empathic and gentle when I was a teenager or young man. Maybe with his help I wouldn’t have hurt some people in my life. Many young men need exactly such guidance. Life is so complicated and confusing; I was craving for someone who I could trust, someone who would hold me tight and someone who would support and challenge me (emotionally) in a respectful way.
Many men I talk to have had similar experiences, they lack positive male role models and struggle with being the change, which is why I think our society is ripe for and needs a new generation of men and fathers. To make our families and relationships work, we need more understanding and less ego. More empathy and respect; more good talks and honest reflection instead of blaming and judging.
The way we parent our children, especially our boys, will mirror and reflect our society. Economy and politics are ruled by older, hard, ego-driven, so-called strong men. Such ‘strong’ men declare war instead of love. From the safety of behind their desks they decide what’s right and what’s wrong.
I wish for more gentle people to make big decisions which affect our lives. I call for a society where men and women and transgender live equally. That includes parenting. As fathers, to raise our children in a gentle way, we need time to spend with them, time to connect deeply, play and share conversations.
Are boys the super-hero-rougher gender?
How can this be possible when at the earliest, and probably most important time for bonding, fathers in this country are forced to return to work after only two weeks of paternity leave? Why don’t stay-at-home parents get any financial support from the government when they actually do the most important job: raising the future generations (plus saving the state a lot of money for childcare)? Making it difficult for fathers to arrange more flexible working hours.
Why are boys still treated by many as the stronger, braver, super-hero-rougher gender? Because it’s been that way for centuries? Not good enough for me. I want a change. Let’s start here and today. Let’s start the gentle talk. Let’s embrace our children – girls and boys alike – as something beautiful, special, human.
We need a new generation of boys, men, fathers, grandfathers, teachers, politicians, workers, thinkers and dreamers. Let this be your message: “You’ll lead a successful life, when you don’t feel the need to strengthen yourself at the expense of others. When you don’t feel the desire to devalue others in order to upgrade your own ego. When you don’t need to play a role only to find appreciation. You are a man if you really have something to give.” (Gerald Huether). So true.
Photo courtesy: cheriejoyful
You can find all of the #100Voices4Men articles that will be published in the run up to International Men’s Day 2014 by clicking on this link—#100Voices4Men—and follow the discussion on twitter by searching for #100Voices4Men.
The views expressed in these articles are not the views of insideMAN editorial team. Whether you agree with the views expressed in this article or not we invite you to take take part in this important discussion, our only request is that you express yourself in a way that ensures everyone’s voice can be heard.