The Modern-Day Mythic Father: Engaging the Mythopoetic Masculine in Service for Our Children

Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite. This saying, although told to me by my mother, is ageless, and forms the evening ritual I use to put my own children to bed. Yes, like many children their age, they are afraid of the dark. Who knows, the boogieman may be in the closet or under their bed, or the unknown noise outside got their infinitely wandering and inquisitive minds to develop a story about what strange creature may lurk outside the bedroom window, but nevertheless, the mission is set: get them to bed happy, content, and fear free, so that they can start the day off right, and you can finish the day’s work or have a few moments of relaxation to remember why you work so hard at this in the first place.

Is it Love? Yes. Is it work? Definitely. Exhausting at the minimum! A never ending Groundhogs Day at its maximum. But nevertheless, one of the most rewarding experiences we will ever undertake to find the root meaning of our inner masculinity. So what drives the journey of the Modern-Day Mythic Father to engage this heroic epic of epics? simply put, it is built into our mythopoetic foundation, archetypal by force, yet emotionally driven to find fruition in our every day lives. It is the simple will we as men have to overcome fear, face the daemons of our personal shadow, and strive forward to be a good man, husband, and father, despite the fact if we had an available or non-available father figure in our life.

Tonight, I was asked by my son to put him to sleep. Like many, he craves closeness when nighttime falls. Archetypal in nature, the night elicits inner fears regarding our capacity to control, or not control the inner and outer landscapes that directly relate to our safety. Being his father, I of course comply, but then become upset when a rule is broke, wanting to disengage from my part of the deal.

Wrong? maybe. Is there a lesson there? Probably! But that is yet to be determined. On my end, I know that a child must begin to learn about cause, effect, keeping one’s word, and learning the most important skill we as people will ever develop: Empathy. However, was the possible removal of myself as a safety object too harsh? That is yet to be determined. But nevertheless, the exchange definitely got me to actively think about our exchange as well as my son, whom, although may be unconscious of the lesson I attempted to teach, found a way to move us back to even.

While being a parent is difficult, it is important to remember that even the greatest parents told to us in myths, fairytales, and world religions were often mediocre at best. It is the ritual or parenthood that counts. It is our duty as fathers to help children make sense of their inner workings, and to confront the fears elicited by their outside environment through showing continuity and closeness of relationship. For our children, it is the ability to to “walk a mile in your shoes” that counts (both figuratively and literally), so they can develop a sense of internal and external master, develop self esteem, and realize they are capable of the big things in life they believe only their fathers are. In this blog, I will explore from an in depth, analytical perspective the journey father’s undertake to make sense of their inner masculine, raise their children, be good-enough men, husbands, and parents, in order that they may raise well rounded, morally adept children who are ready to enter their adult life with a sense of purpose.

Dr. Tom

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