Tony Woodlief on being a father

In today’s podcast i had the pleasure of talking to Tony Woodlief, the author of the wonderful pamphlet, Raising Wild Boys Into Men: A Modern Dad’s Survival Guide

In the podcast, Tony tells us,

At first I made the mistake of trying to write the pamphlet I thought people would want instead of the one I really had inside, and that’s always a mistake for me, and [my editors] said, just tell the stories about your children, and your own story because that really is more interesting and appealing.
… The stories of the children are really telling another story about my own upbringing and the struggle I had about trying to figure out how to grow up to be a man, not really having a father and home to look up to.

He tells all those stories and more. The point that comes across is,

“Real men come from wild fidgety loud hardheaded boys”

In today’s Opinion Journal, Tony expands on that point,

The trick is not to squash the essence of boys, but to channel their natural wildness into manliness. And this is what keeps me awake at night, because it’s going to take a miracle for someone like me, who grew up without meaningful male influence, who would be an embarrassment to Teddy Roosevelt, to raise three men. Along with learning what makes a good father, I face an added dilemma: How do I raise my sons to be better than their father?

What I’m discovering is that as I try to guide these ornery, wild-hearted little boys toward manhood, they are helping me become a better man, too. I love my sons without measure, and I want them to have the father I did not. As I stumble and sometimes fail, as I feign an interest in camping and construction and bugs, I become something better than I was.

In his blog, Tony links to Adam Bellow’s article, The proxy patriarch
Adam Bellow had a famous father, but stepdad Papa Joe proved to be his true guiding light

Joe never tried to take my father’s place or pressed himself on me in any way. But over time, he got into my life and into my heart. He did this basically just by being there in all the most important moments. It was Joe who attended my high-school theatre performances and graduation ceremonies. It was he who drove me out to college every fall and picked me up each spring, loading my bulky stereo and enormously heavy record collection into the family wagon.

Go read all of it.

And to all the dads and stepdads out there, happy Father’s Day.

Update, Saturday 16 June: On Monday’s podcast Gates of Vienna and Sigmund, Carl and Alfred will be talking about the Dancing Eurabians. Please join us at noon Eastern Time.

Click here for today’s podcast.
You can order Raising Wild Boys Into Men: A Modern Dad’s Survival Guide directly at the link.

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