Dad cares more than he lets on

Farm Forum

Last month in our ongoing discussion on the importance of family and the role each member plays, we examined the vital function Mom performs in all aspects of the family, and the farm itself. The next player we will discuss is dear old Dad.

Fathers, while they may seem a bit stiff and uncaring much of the time, are far from that. Most are just the opposite, but would never admit it. As big and tough men, they simply do not have the ability to adequately express it. Who knows why this is? Perhaps it is an unconscious fear that outwardly displaying too much in the form of emotions would be seen as a sign of weakness? Regardless, unless truly a hard case, the big dummies do indeed care. And care an awful lot.

This is why they take the traditional role of provider and protector so very serious. Modern society, progressive attitudes, and even ever increasing political correctness aside, there is simply no denying this as one of the main purposes of the male form of us humans. Has been since the beginning and will remain till the end. While we are no longer needed to drag down game to eat and chase away animals that in turn may want to eat us, we can darn sure keep the wolf from the door in other ways. Serving as the strong framework that the entire family depends on. Particularly Mom. Without the steadfast knowledge that her man will always be there to ensure that all is right, her all important job would be all the harder.

Men tend to do better at the building and betterment of things. No matter what you give us, we seem to have a compelling need to make it bigger and or better. This definitely applies to the farming operation. This is partly due to the economy of scale and the nature of modern agriculture. A quarter section of land for a homesteader was quite an undertaking. Today, it is but another parcel of ground. At times acquisition is a matter of personal pride and even ego, but in reality is much more than that. It comes down to legacy. The intense internal satisfaction of knowing that he was able to not just provide for his family but also build something substantial and meaningful to be passed on. Thus, assuring his time expended on this earth was well spent. Dad may be quite good at accumulating, but he often struggles in distribution.

This is often due to the biological male need to rule and control all they survey. Testosterone is a powerful thing and drives us in many endeavors. Some good, some not so good. It also firmly falls to the frailties of ego. After working so hard to get the family to where it is, it is simply hard to loosen the reins. This amounts to not wanting to be perceived as vulnerable by conceding some of his manly duties. It could also be an even bigger dread of facing his own mortality. Aging, quite frankly, tends to sneak up on us quicker than we anticipate. If we continue to build and control everything around us — despite our age — we haven’t lost a single step. Right?

This is where father and son tend to butt heads. The young bull is on the rise and the mature bull is not willing to cede ground too gracefully. This is not due to either being hard-hearted. Although it may seem that way. They are just fulfilling their time honored role of being pig-headed men. Looks like it is time for Mom to once again step in and mend fences, wounds, and the like.

Dennis Foster has been helping families with financial and estate planning needs for 25 years. He welcomes comments and questions and can be reached at 605-887-7069 or