The role of a father in today’s society is in a state of extreme confusion. Children are being raised in fatherless homes or in homes where fathers are not living up to their obligations to teach and demand excellence. Modern day political correctness scoffs at the notion of a parent demanding excellence. Why that will traumatize children and possibly lower their self esteem if they do not measure up. What a polite and mediocre way to make everyone average. Instead why not embrace the idea of fathering for excellence like a patriarchal father of old.
Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. is the best definition of a modern day patriarchal father. The record of achievement of his offspring is awe inspiring with JFK becoming president in a time when there was extreme prejudice against Irish Catholic Americans in the country as a whole. Even more impressive his older brother Joseph P. Kennedy Jr who died in World War 2, and Robert Francis Kennedy who was assassinated on the campaign trail both stood a good chance to be president if fate had not negatively intervened. If this was not enough, other offspring became Senators, co-founder of the Special Olympics and international ambassadors. How did Joseph P Kennedy Sr. raise such a remarkable family?
Establish Authority – A father needs to be the unquestioned leader of the family. He may choose to consult others before deciding on a matter but once the father has set direction his leadership must be respected. It is essential for a father to love his children and make that affection known to have true lasting authority vs. coming across as tyrant. It is a fine line but compared with mothers I see less fathers trying to be “best friends” with their children at the expense of authority and leadership.
Demand Excellence – Joseph P Kennedy Sr. was extremely ambitious and thrived on competing and winning at the highest stages of business and politics. He taught this competitive spirit to his children and made his standard the rule of the house. Rewarding desired behavior and punishing unproductive behavior was done mainly by the desire to live up to the family legacy and not disappoint the old man.
Importance of Family – The Kennedy’s understood the importance of family loyalty. Duty to the family was viewed as nonnegotiable and activities were built around family events. The famous Kennedy compound was even created to help build the mystique and promote togetherness. Younger brother Robert played an integral part in helping get JFK elected and was his most trusted adviser while in the hot seat. History would have been different if their father did not instill the dynamic of family trust into their blood.
Give focus early on in life – One of the biggest mistakes parents today make is assume children will figure out on their own their life’s calling. The end result is often children with no real plan and an indecisive person that changes direction and college majors on a whim. The Sr. Kennedy instilled the passion for political power but any high status career that seems a good fit to your child’s temperament is a worthy goal. Think entrepreneur, finance whiz, doctor, lawyer, etc..
Stress the importance of education – The old man attended Harvard and benefited from the knowledge and connections he made there. Education is essential towards your child attaining a high status career in the future so demand excellence in academia. A’s should be expected and B’s can be reluctantly tolerated if needed. Be actively involved in your child’s school life and get them extra help in important subjects they may be weak in like math or science. Help align advanced education plans with their future high status career so your child can make efficient use of their college time and your resources. This will help avoid the dreaded changing of majors that extends college or going in the undecided route.
Encourage physical fitness – Physical activity is good for the body and the brain. Exercise is essential for gaining optimal performance in all aspects of life and the Kennedy clan often engaged in sporting activities within the family. Make it fun and competitive to keep things interesting and reinforce the importance of excellence and self mastery win or lose.