Father Knows Best was an idyllic weekly show that aired on television from 1954 to 1960. It starred Robert Young and Jane Wyatt, along with their three fictional children. The show was based on a middle class family in a suburban midwest town. It was a drama / comedy type show which portrayed dad as a thoughtful father who offered sage advice and a mom who was the voice of reason. Much of my description comes from Wikipedia, and is accurate. Fast forward to 2014 and what does father look like in today’s culture. Here’s my observation. Hollywood and advertisers have made father to look like a buffoon and is generally the laughing-stock of most shows and commercials. Gone are the days where father may have known best, and instead we find father (if he is even around) as not knowing how to do anything. If he attempts something which requires any degree of difficulty or intelligence, he fails. However, mom can do no wrong and performs the man’s tasks with relative ease.
The feminist revolution which began in the 60s turned our culture upside down as far as roles and perceptions are concerned. I will be the first to acknowledge that there were (and still are) inequalities among the sexes in America. Many of these have been corrected, but often at the expense of our understanding of what real fatherhood looks like. But, it goes deeper than that, as the change in roles and perceptions are really about men in general-the American male, to be exact. And, if he happens to be a Christian father with moral convictions, watch out as the rhetoric can become ugly.
Was there ever a perfect father like Jim in this TV show? No. Was there ever a mom who always was the voice of reason as was Jane? Again, no. But why have the tables flipped so drastically that men have been demoted to bumbling idiots and yet women are portrayed as smarter and better equipped to handle any situation or crisis? This is not to say that in some cases women are better equipped, but not unilaterally so. Also, I do recognize that guys can act like children at times. and deserve some criticism.
I acknowledge that Father Knows Best created a quasi-accurate portrayal in its presentation of the common family. To begin with that family was white middle class and only dealt with issues of little cultural significance. Then, like today, our culture was diverse. There were many classes, many colors, many economic variances, many social issues and many barriers. Fortunately, many of the negative issues of that time have been corrected, or at least have improved. But not the American male. No sir. He is portrayed as incompetent, bigoted, foolish, silly and dumb. Actually, I know some of those folks myself, but they are in the minority and not the majority as we are led to believe. Wow, I really do know some of those guys!
One of the few times the media portrays fathers (and men in general) as being reasonable, smart and manly is around Father’s Day. The reason…consumerism and the selling of goods to make money. Once this holiday is over the advertising media will revert to its previous froth that men are no longer manly.
Most of the men I have known, and now know; and most of the fathers I have known, and now know are not morons. Imperfect, yes, but they have brains, they work hard, they make wise decisions and give prudent advice, they lead by example and are humble. Of course, there are always exceptions. I submit to you that fathers, when they can be found with their families, are much better creatures than we have been led to believe over the past fifty years. As a side note, the case of the missing father is a deep issue which requires more time and space than I can offer in this post.
Is there room for improvement? Yes. However, let us start from a better premise which states that fathers (and men) in America are thoughtful, reasonable, intelligent, creative, strong, kind and wise human beings who care about their families and our culture. Some respect would be a nice change of pace. Does father know best? Not always, but more often than not. If my dad were here, I would tell him so. Perhaps you should, too. Hopefully, he is deserving of such praise.
P.S. The photo is of my father-in-law, taken recently with my cell phone. I love Charlie.
P.S.S. This post is not a rant, but simply something that has bothered me for a while and is strictly my opinion. I hope no one has concluded that I do not value women because I do very much. Also, this dynamic about males not being respected in our culture (my perception) may not apply to other cultures, and I understand that.