Baseball games in the park.
Trips to the amusement park.
Camping vacations by tranquil lakes.
Swimming games in the local pool.
Take a deep breath.
Now imagine marijuana joints passed around by the
toasting of two beer mugs during a night of intoxification.
Two women -- a middle-aged one and her twentysomething
daughter -- being led arm in arm back to two adjoining hotel
Which father-son images would you
rather have in your memory banks?
(Or, if a woman, what mother-daughter images?)
I take it for granted that most of us
have been raised with or at least been fed as the ideal the
first set. Our
parents were authority figures.
They set boundaries.
We both admired and feared them.
They rewarded us when we did good and punished us
when we didn't.
As children, we actually want
may beg our parents to stay up late and consume junk food in
humungous quantities and be disappointed when they refuse
our every demand, but deep down, we secretly want them to
draw lines in the sand beyond which we cannot cross.
If they did not, we would feel like we were growing
up without a guide.
There is no one universal parenting
method, no absolutely correct way for a parent to raise a
child. I would
take for granted that most readers had father-son (or
mother-daughter) relationships which more closely resembled
baseball games in the park than discussions about life over
But as I've gotten older, I've observed more and more
unusual father-son relationships, with the son looking no
worse for wear for it.
When I spent a year in Australia, I
happened to get invited to a surfer dude's 24th
birthday party in Adelaide.
His father drove me and two of his friends to the bar
where strippers were promised to appear, and during the
drive, the son was discussing his newly picked up 18-yr old
girlfriend with his father.
The conversation went something like this:
You sure you want to get shacked up with this young
sheila (derogatory Australian slang for a woman).
There're a lot of girls you should be rooting (Australian
slang for copulating).
SURFER DUDE SON:
I really like her, pop.
The eyes stray, son.
The bar'll be chockers full of strippers.
You'll want to root a bunch of 'em.
I know I will.
SURFER DUDE SON:
My eyes don't wander all that much.
By your third beer, you'll have your hand down one of
them girl's knickers and I'll be taking photos to prove it.
Let's compare that to my background.
My own father and I never drove to see strippers
together on any of my birthdays.
We've never talked about roaming our hands along
women's panty lines and snapping photos to share with
Recently, I have found out that a
friend of a friend, call him Tim, has a father living in
Pattaya, a Thai city located on the east coast of the Gulf
Pattaya has a reputation as the Sex Capital
of the Universe.
Even Martians and Venusians and Neptunians journey here for
Tim and his father routinely go prowling for females
together and give each other high fives when they both
father has picked up a woman concurrently with Tim picking
up that woman's daughter.
My own widowed father and I have never
done similar activities together.
Perhaps I'm being too close minded
Bean, the friend of mine who personally knows Tim, says that
he has a very distant relationship with his father; if Bean
ever has a son, he'll show him the ropes about everything.
If his underaged son wants to try a beer, Bean will pour the
first glass. Opium, Bean will offer the first whiff.
Bean's attitude is that his son will try all these
things anyway if he really wants to.
Why not try them in the company of a caring and
And he went further.
Why shouldn't father and son go out on the pickup circuit
together? Bean distilled everything down to the caveman basics.
Biologically, each organism strives to propagate its
DNA into the next generation.
It makes perfect sense that a father would assist a
son in propagating his own DNA, especially considering that
half the son's DNA is inherited from the dad.
Cultural conditioning is what stands in
my way of accepting father-son bar hops and dope sessions as
father, like all parents, defined my boundaries, and those
boundaries did not encompass us passed out in the gutter
together after a weekend bender.
Other fathers, like Tim's, drew different boundaries.
Is one set of boundaries superior to another?
It does require a completely different
style of raising the child.
I don't fathom a kid could have a conventional
upbringing; then when he turns 21, the father magically
changes into a drinking buddy and pickup wingman.
An unorthodox reward-punishment scheme would've had
to be put in place when the child was still very young.
Clearly, if a man's going to get to the stage of
pickups with his son, this can't be the same son he beat
with a belt for not doing his homework and grounded for a
week after he caught him smoking cigarettes in the garage.
And even if a father raises his son
more like a buddy than as a typical child, there're other
issues to contend with.
If the father remains married to the son's mother,
it's that much more difficult to bring up the son Tim-style.
The mother has to be on the same page as the father
for raising the son as more like a friend.
Joint pickups would most likely be out.
What sons who were good old fashioned pals with their
moms would condone and assist in their fathers
The same obstacles apply even if the father and
mother are divorced or separated.
As long as the son maintains a decent relationship
with the mother, picking up side-by-side with daddy stands
to be problematic.
It seems to me that the mother would have to be
deceased or feel very distant from the son for father-son
bar bonding to be cranked up to the next level.
I think most sons, if given the choice,
would still opt for a traditional father, a trad-dad if you
really wouldn't trade their dads for a dad like Tim's.
You can find plenty of bar-hop buds and seduction
associates, but you only have one father.
However, they would prefer their fathers to be more
active in their lives and treat them more like peers.
They want trad-dad with just an accent of Tim-dad.
Bean says that the bulk of his parental relationship
rests with his mother, and that makes sense.
When Bean and I were young, it was normal for only
the father to be out of the house earning a living.
Nearly all of the upbringing was carried out by the
I look at parenting a lot like
of mangers do not socialize with their subordinates.
They feel that if they become too close to the people
who work under them, the workers will stop viewing them as
an authority figure and thus be harder to manage.
Yet there are other managers who want to be loved by
their staff and use this loyalty to get their subordinates
to follow them.
Management requires a person to develop his own style
of walking between the roles of superior and peer.
And what is parenting but child management?
They say you can't teach an old dog new
tricks, and I suppose that a father who's decided over
decades how he walks with his son won't suddenly -- or
possibly ever --
be able to alter that relationship.
It'll surely make a new father think twice about how
he acts when he takes home his newborn son from the hospital
for the first time.