I just watched the classic Hitchcock thriller, "The Birds" with my older kids. It made me think about Father's Day.
"Mitch" (the very gorgeous Rod Taylor) is the ultimate manly man and something we don't see portrayed enough in our pop culture, or appreciated enough in our modern culture: the fellow who sacrifices for and protects his family, and women and children in general. The man who knows how to use his testosterone for the good.
"Miss Daniels" (Tippi Hedren and wow is she beautiful) is gutsy, but ultimately it's Mitch who saves her from being plucked to death by psycho sea birds.
Today, for every "Cinderella Man" — a strong, protective, sacrificial father — we're likely to get several of the bumbling dad Homer Simpson, the well-meaning but witless "Papa" in the popular Berenstain Bears series, or the just-short-of-loser-dads in the recent "Click" and "Deck the Halls." There, it's the wise moms who consistently try to step in and save dad from himself.
That's because in our culture, too often we want men to be. . . women. Assistant wives. Deputy moms. Mother knows best, she is best. A fellow can be sacrificing in many ways to support his family, but it's only changing a certain number of diapers or showing up for junior's pre-school field trip — while connecting emotionally with mom — that will win him the title of "top dad."
I have a friend who told his wife (and mother of their five kids) and me one evening, "I just don't get it. My friends and I are so much more involved in our kids' and families' lives than our dads ever were — and all we get is lambasted for not doing even more. What do women want?"
That was a gutsy question to put out there. But this is one couple which has agreed that what she wants most, and what she gets, is something an "assistant mom" couldn't provide: for her 6'4" husband to stand with her and say to their kids, "you treat your mother with respect or you'll have me to deal with!"
For the record, he helps out a lot with the kids, and also for the record I am all for that. I see the dads in my neighborhood piling their kids in the car for a game, or playing catch with them in the yard, or saying "no, you can't honey," or going to the grocery store and I think how wonderful that is.
There are a lot of manly men in this world. I just don't think they are appreciated enough. From Oprah to Dr. Dobson, it's men who are constantly being nudged to be more sensitive and emotional when it comes to their wives or girlfriends. But are the wives and girlfriends ever told "don't be overly sensitive," or "don't look to your man to be your best gal pal.?" Um, no.