A “council of wise men” for my sons?

three men sitting on veranda

Ever since Avengers Endgame, I’ve taken to telling my sons each night before bedtime that I love them “3,000”. Those who watched the film will know what I mean.

{For those who didn’t, stay with me til the end of this post and I’ll tell you.}

Since they were babies, I’ve always tucked my boys into bed with affectionate lines like “Daddy loves you to the ends of the moon and back.” Or some variation of that. Followed by a big smackeroo of a kiss goodnight.

It’s what I look forward to do every night. Never having it while growing up, I didn’t want my kids to go to sleep without being reminded they were loved.

But recently a somewhat morbid thought came to me.

What if (gulp) the day comes when I’m no longer around? When I can’t kiss my kiddos goodnight, and whisper sweet endearments that they can bring into their dreamlands?

What if the day comes when they no longer have their dad with them, yet they’re still not quite grown men yet? Who will they go to for “manly” counsel? Or fathering tips and what-nots? Who (apart from their mom) will help them navigate this complex world?

One Father’s “Council of Dads”

man in black suit jacket holding smartphone
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com

In 2010, writer Bruce Feilier published a NYT bestselling book, “The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could be Me”. In it, he wrote of assembling a group of men to “father” his twin daughters Tybee and Eden.

Sounds like an unusual step to take except that he had been diagnosed with bone cancer. Unable to face the prospect of dying before his young girls become grown women without a father to turn to for help, love and advice, Feiler took parenting matters into his own hands to form a “council of dads”.

This council comprised six men he knew at different stages of his life. Each embodied unique qualities and values which made them a critical resource for his kids. Should the frightening prospect ever come. Thankfully for Feiler, it hasn’t; in fact, you can check out his recently-launched news bulletin here.

While I certainly wouldn’t want to be in his shoes, “forced” to make such a sobering decision, I found the idea appealing.

I think about all the times I’ve let my kids down, especially those moments when I lose my temper and become the “tyrannosaurus” dad. So yah I reckon my sons might benefit from seeing other ways to be a dad. Or for that matter, a man. Ways that don’t necessarily involve losing one’s cool!

Like what happened two nights ago when I lashed out at C for, once again, not tidying up his play area. My T-Rex moment was at its worst. And worse still was having J witness the exchange between his brother and me. And for him to now think that obedience from a child can only be gained from the parent throwing a hissy fit!

But this isn’t just about me and my temper (I’ve already posted on this more than once!), though I suspect this part of my parenting journey is far from over.

It’s also about finding other men who can show other aspects of manliness that could help my sons discover who they are or could be.

And for that, I must put on my “thinking hat and binoculars” to assemble…

…my own “council of dads”!

three men standing while laughing
Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

My first thought? Find men who are decent chaps; ideally dads too (though not a must), with strong family values that hopefully resonate with mine.

Next, given my recent behaviour, I sincerely hope these guys would have the patience of a saint. My sons should see it’s more than possible to sail through life with more unruffled feathers than ruffled.

Now these men don’t have to share similar likes or interests as I do. And they needn’t even have personalities anywhere close to mine. I learnt this idea of diversity while listening to an old podcast episode on The Art of Manliness, where guest speaker Stephen Mansfield talked about how his male friends helped spot problems (in his relationship with his son and daughter) that blindsided him. All because these friends were different from him in lots of ways.

Allowing for such diversity will go a long way to enrich minds and challenge paradigms. In so doing, my sons will hopefully develop a more wholistic way of viewing life.

If possible, I would love to assemble men representing every decade other than mine. Men who are 10, 20, 30, etc years younger or older than me. I believe there is wisdom and insight each of these men would have that I don’t, simply by virtue of the decade they were born in.

Most of all, I would want each of these men to come to my sons’ aid when they most need it, and especially when I’m no longer around.

Sadly, listing criteria for this council’s membership is the easy part.

Next comes the membership drive!

Oh bother (I mean brother) where art thou?

aerial photo of city street and buildings
Photo by Deva Darshan on Pexels.com

I suppose I’ll have to start with my immediate circle of contacts, which is the most logical place to begin my quest. Given that nearly all of these are actually women however, it does look like I’ve got my work cut out for me!

My first recourse is to take a deep breath and think.

If my existing circle can’t “supply the candidates”, then my next best bet are circles of contacts my wife and sons have. Or my female contacts and friends, and their circles.

Okay, that’s a start right?

Sons, if you’re reading this, your dad apologises for being such a social pariah. This undertaking would have been much easier were I a social butterfly instead.

But for your sake, I shall (deep breath) take a step out in faith to find decent men who can father or befriend you, should your dad prove inadequate (and I often do!) or, one day (deep breath again) indisposed.

Cos you know I love you “3,000; to the ends of the moon and back!”

{PS As promised, here is the scene that inspired my “3,000” love note to my sons each night. But — and this melted my heart when he first said it — my J upped the ante one night when he said “Dad, I love you 3K+1”!}

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