Underrated Heroes: The Evolving Struggles of Fatherhood Across Generations
As a dad of three, I have to say it does wear you out from time to time.
Being given the run-around on the regular by my 3 livewires gives me a newfound respect for not only my own parents but particularly the father role, which is one of the most underrated and sadly perhaps increasingly disrespected roles in society.
It’s harder than it looks. And bloody exhausting, sometimes.
I’ve met many fathers recently who are struggling. Friends, family, clients. And even the man in the mirror.
The struggle is real.
The traditional pressure to provide in a crumbling economy where your money is increasingly worthless, whilst trying to keep up with an increasingly demanding world, non-stop distractions, navigating through bigger and more dangerous challenges to keep your household stable and in order can push us to the brink. All whilst needing to be a rock for everyone and remaining stoic, often not able to express or share your pains for fear, embarrassment or resentment.
It’s enough to send you sliding down the slippery slope of sanity with every passing day.
It really is death by a thousand cuts, sometimes.
And it’s no wonder more and more dads are struggling with the dreaded depression.
It got me thinking…
Has it always been this difficult?
Did my dad or my uncles or other men of that generation have all of these struggles and how did they handle it?
Where does one turn to?
It made me realise that there are different challenges for different generations.
The purpose of fathers, no matter which generation is essentially the same. To provide, protect and polish. To give your family stability, a foundation for order and discipline and support so everyone in that family may survive and thrive.
It’s not a small responsibility.
It’s easy to say the older generation were made of sterner stuff, they just rode it out. Or that it was a simpler time. But it’s a lazy premise and doesn’t do them justice.
The previous generation absolutely did have huge challenges. But they were often physical. They tried and toiled to establish a foothold in a foreign land.
A long, hard day of blood, sweat and tears at the factory, on the buses or in the restaurant. Unfavourable hours. A bit of racism thrown in for good measure. Try to outwork the rest and save to establish their families here, whilst sending money back home. The slow accumulation through sacrifice. Rinse and repeat.
Ensuring their children were educated was their ticket to freedom.
Their battle scars were on their bodies, and their aches and pains today tell the tale.
They had no money but they retained their mental faculties and their faith which kept them going.
Our generation, mostly educated and entering into knowledge work have been handed down the baton of struggle — but it’s mostly a mental battle, today. How do you stay focused, stay productive, stay loyal, stay healthy in an age of mass convenience and mass consumerism? All that with a generous helping of generational trauma being handed down.
Therapists, coaches and psychologists are all the rage, today.
We have money and faith for the most part but less so our mental health.
We are the age of high paying 9–5’s, tech start-ups and pursuing passion projects. Our ticket to freedom is to invest — in crypto, stock, properties, and if you’re lucky, to get a big exit or payout. Financial freedom, the four-hour work week, all that jazz.
The wounds my generation carry are not physical; they manifest in our frazzled and scattered minds, for the most part.
But now let’s fast forward to the future, where an entirely different battle awaits the upcoming generation of fathers.
Their battle will 100% be a spiritual one.
However, the erosion of mental capacity looms ominously. With TikTok and AI-driven technologies like ChatGPT becoming mainstream, critical thinking skills are being compromised to the point young people today will never really develop the ability to think for themselves. Why bother thinking when you don’t need to? Just feed the machine a prompt or two and off you go.
The ability to handle struggle and difficulty diminishes under the weight of cancel culture and hypersensitivity. If you have to become ‘tolerant’ of absolutely everything, there are fewer barriers to prevent the onslaught of sinister, evil forces penetrating through.
That near-future age will be one where you won’t know what is real and what is fake. Deepfakes, AI music, AI art, AI books, AI everything. Will they know what it even means to have art, culture and faith that touches one’s soul? If factual scientific things are already being abandoned today in favour of ‘feelings’, discerning truth from falsehood will become an even more monumental challenge when this becomes the cultural norm. You’re a product of your environment, after all.
Fathers often had a deeper sense of spirituality to turn to, to comfort, to heal, to seek solace in and ask the Almighty from above. Or they had a community that cared.
These days, we have neither.
In the past, one’s faith helped you to stay resilient in tough times. It was our spirituality that helped us to separate truth from falsehood, good from evil. And our sense of camaraderie and community fostered a sense of shared values, support and uplift in times of need.
Without anywhere to turn to for help you turn inwards to block out the pain, or succumb and crumble under the pressure.
In a world where every imaginable human desire is available at a touch of a button, are we developing the discipline and fortitude in our young people to be able to resist the immense temptations that lie before them?
And things will only get worse.
Now imagine, that generation of fathers have got little faith, limited mental capacity but the most abundance of money.
They have the most access with the least friction.
The father’s role as protector and guardian is now more important than ever, and at the same time, infinitely more challenging. And yet, such undeveloped fathers would be less capable to handle such complexities.
Instilling discipline, fortitude, purpose and faith becomes crucial in a world of abundance, instant gratification and blurred truth. That becomes their route to freedom. Forget money, forget time.
The family unit is the bedrock of society. If this is broken, society eventually descends into anarchy.
Fathers are the gatekeepers to their most precious treasure, their family.
If you break the father, you eventually break the family. And you see the downfall of society before your very eyes.
A dad who feels downbeat, demotivated and directionless will look to escape his duties, and will end up devolving deeper into depression and perhaps even degeneracy.
This is why having a sense of purpose is vital. It’s part of you embracing your role, fulfilling your responsibilities and doing justice to the gifts and treasures you’ve been given.
The battle for fathers transcends time, manifesting in different forms in each generation. From physical struggles to mental battles to an imminent spiritual warfare, fathers must continuously adapt to the changing landscape. As now, as we contemplate an ever-uncertain future and drastic change in the horizon ahead, we genuinely face a societal time bomb if it not dealt with.
It is vital that we embrace our responsibility as fathers to guide the next generation through this treacherous terrain.