“I don’t know my kids anymore,” lamented a father estranged from his teenage son and daughter. He faulted the divorce and his soon-to-be ex-wife for the chasm between him and his children. The father complained that he didn’t know his kids well enough to know what gifts to get them for their birthdays.
Granted, the tricky business of buying gifts for teenagers often gets met with disdain, so I err on the side of cash – a gift which is always appreciated. Unless of course you have the open communication to drill down and find out what they really want within your budget (not an iPhone) and values (not vaping supplies) – or you are good at guessing. One Christmas, my husband intuited well-received gifts for our teenage daughters of canvases, acrylic paints and quality brushes, which led to hours of friendly painting parties. Score! Success for daughters who love art! But the teenage boy remains a mystery to me, having none of my own and no brothers. Although, I hear from other parents that their teenage sons remain mysterious to them, too.
Nonetheless, all the gift giving conflicts aside, I felt taken aback by the estranged father’s next comment. He continued to lament that his son was effeminate. The father said this in a way that I understood his son being effeminate was a painful burden to him, perhaps a failure on his own part.
Effeminate means to demonstrate traits more often
associated with feminine mannerisms and behaviors.
In a flash of insight, I intuitively saw a behavior pattern beyond the discussion of teen birthday gifts. The father was negatively judging qualities and behaviors traditionally associated with the feminine as less desirable than those qualities and behaviors generally associated with the masculine. His judging and devaluing the feminine affected his relationship with his wife and kids – which led to divorce and estrangement.
Hold on! Let’s unpack some assumptions around effeminate behaviors.
A woman friend and I mused about why we enjoy hanging out with gay men. It’s because gay men have similar brains to us. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden conducted brain scans and found that gay men, left-handed men and straight women share common brain architecture that improves communication. The corpus callosum, the bridge between right and left brain hemispheres, contains more processing connections to integrate logic and emotion more efficiently. Straight men, right-handed men and lesbians also share similar brain architecture with larger right brain hemispheres which tend toward better spatial awareness.
Not all effeminate men are gay and not all gay men share effeminate traits. Everyone has masculine and feminine energies as two halves of a dualistic whole. The yang, expressive, masculine, out breath balances the yin, listening, feminine, in breath. Masculine and feminine qualities run on a continuum from very masculine/extreme macho to very feminine/extreme dainty with most people expressing their unique balance of masculine and feminine traits somewhere in the middle. Girls who cross the line and express a more rough and tumble nature might be called tomboys. Boys who cross the line and express a more gentle nature might be called effeminate (or more derogatory terms).
What do men experience when they don’t fit into society’s standards of masculinity?
The Good Men Project addressed that question in an article, Men Ask: ”Is it Weird That I’m Effeminate AF but I’m Straight?” Some responses affirmed what my friend and I experienced. “I’m effeminate and get along better with women.” (stronger corpus callosum and better communicator). Some answers made me feel sad. “I feel kind of undesirable because I’m effeminate.” “I hate being an effeminate straight guy. No girl would want someone like me.”
Can men be effeminate and still be good men?
The Good Men Project website states they have “pioneered the largest worldwide conversation about what it means to be a good man in the 21st Century.” Goodmenproject.com
Let’s continue their conversation. It’s not just my estranged father friend who negatively judges feminine qualities in males. He shares an attitude prevalent in our culture that devalues traits traditionally considered feminine: empathy, sensitivity, caring, compassion, tolerance, and nurturance –traits that make good communicators.
The father was undervaluing a trait that would serve him if he embraced it – Emotional Intelligence- EQ – the ability to handle interpersonal relationships. Danial Goleman, in his book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter, shares how EQ skills, more than IQ, determine success in relationships and at work.
There’s good news for my estranged father friend. Current research on the neuroplasticity of the brain and on Emotional Intelligence shows that our brains respond to outer stimulus by building new neuropathways. Emotional Intelligence can be learned through practicing social awareness skills like recognizing visual cues, listening with compassion and empathy, and fine-tuning your radar for the emotional climate around you.
If my friend practices building new brain neuro-pathways through improving his communication skills, (such as listening with empathy and compassion to his teenagers), he might strengthen his corpus callosum and develop some traits considered more feminine – and ultimately act more like his son. Maybe he can even rebuild a foundation for re-engagement with his kids.
Trying to communicate with your teenagers or your spouse can augment stress. Not communicating with the people who matter most to you will cause you more stress. Upleveling your Emotional Intelligence skills and your response to stressful situations will add to your satisfaction in life – a goal worth the effort.
Leah Skurdal has taught people to respond to stress from their natural state of Inner Wellbeing for over 25 years. In her speeches and workshops, Leah inspires audiences to envision the best version of themselves. Leah offers individual Energy Healing and Stress Resilience Coaching in person, by phone, Skype, Zoom and Facebook Live. She is author of the book, Seeking Serenity: How to Find Your Inner Calm and Joy and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out her workshop Raise the Bar on Stressful Relationships 8/13/19 in Coon Rapids Minnesota.
When a friend poured out her heart about the stuff of life, I sent this response.
I see, hear, feel you. I’m walking in the direction I feel guided. Putting one foot in front of the other. Then self correct.
I used to think there was one path and you’re either on the path or off the path. That’s the way of classical music and French cooking with Julia Child. Which is awesomeness at it’s best.
Real life is more about jazz cooking. You have some guiding principles. You look at recipes for inspiration. You try things together in new combinations. Sometimes it works, sometimes you throw it out. And sometimes magic happens when the ingredients and the timing and cooking process all comes together in the moment. You and I have had those experiences – which is why we believe in them. And for whatever reasons, sometimes isn’t always.
So we try again. We digest what we can and throw out the rest. And we learn. We learn what goes together. We learn what doesn’t go together. We learn about the cooking process called life. That’s the art of jazz living.
Any feedback? Thoughts? Input?
Father’s Day opens a can of worms for some people. Feelings of abandonment and unresolved issues resurface. This post is for people who want to find peace in their screwed up father relationships.
Some fortunate people had wonderful relationships with loving fathers. I was blessed with a father who loved, supported and encouraged his kids. I loved him dearly and still miss him daily. My father also screwed up – royally. He spent half of his adult life as an emotionally unavailable alcoholic – and then celebrated 29 years of sobriety when he died. He went bankrupt and lost the family home – and then rebuilt a comfortable retirement income which benefited his family. He cheated on his marriage more than once – and, due to my mother’s graciousness, my father rebuilt a loving relationship with her and his children.
Fathers screw up sometimes. We all screw up sometimes. Looking at my father’s life and screw ups with compassion gave me a new perspective into my own life and my own mistakes. My new awareness brought me peace with my father and with myself.
Fathers are people with unmet needs too – even those men whom we do not admire. Maybe they had abusive fathers themselves with no good role models in sight. Maybe they had unrealistic expectations of themselves and their abilities and therefore felt inadequate. Maybe our culture imposed unrealistic expectations on them.
One of the saddest things I have heard was from Brené Brown’s interview with a man who said his wife and children would rather see him die on his white horse than to see him fall down. Ouch.
Cheers to the men who fall down and get up again. And again. And again.
Cheers to the men who confront their inner demons and live to tell the tale. Because some men don’t make it through the rain. (Tribute to Barry Manilow) “I made it through the rain and found myself respected by the others who got rained on too, and made it through.”
I’m not letting anyone off the hook for screwing up, lying, cheating, stealing, or abusing and belittling someone to make themselves feel powerful. Abusing power is never ok. But each of us can choose whether to hold on to judgment of themselves and others. I encourage you to make amends now and make better choices next time.
It’s not too late to make amends, to write the letter, to make the phone call, to visit the person who longs to hear your voice saying they are loved. I screwed up and I still love you. Or you screwed up and I’m really pissed off, but I want to understand your perspective. Let’s talk.
If, for whatever reason, you’re not able to confront that father-child relationship in person, reach out energetically and spiritually. Write the letter and burn it. Say a prayer in your heart. Connect Soul to Soul and speak your piece to the wind. Then, let go and listen with your heart for the next step.
I specialize in helping people heal relationships at a spiritual level. Let me know if I can help. The higher perspective from a spiritual level brings clarity and inner peace – often this builds the bridge to outer peace.
Leah Skurdal is a Stress Resilience Coach and Energy Healer who helps people uplevel their stress response so they can uplevel their relationships with the people who matter. Reach out to her at email@example.com
A Workshop to Integrate the Spiritual into the Physical
You might have a lot of information about your body, staying healthy and physical symptoms. Do you also listen with your intuitive heart wisdom to what your body is really saying? What message is your body telling you through discomfort? Who in your life is a pain in the neck? Is someone else’s energy contributing to your migraine? How do you release toxic thoughts from your joints?
In this fun and insightful workshop, learn practical tools to:
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
11499 Martin St. Coon Rapids, MN 55433
Today I am consciously choosing to use my Five Simple Strategies to Subdue Stress! With the restoration company fixing our ice dam related water issues, the leaking sink drain requiring a call to the restoration company and the leaking main water line unrelated to the previous water issues requiring calls to find a plumber, the wrong door key requiring a second trip and Whew! I am needing to breathe, smile, and find something to be grateful for.
Some days it is easier than others to focus on gratitude. So today I am grateful that I can feel gratitude! I am grateful for a great restoration company with competent workers. I am grateful for clean water that flows easily through my tap without me having to carry it into the house. I am grateful for a refrigerator full of delicious fruits and vegetables. I am grateful that the song in my head is Josh Groban singing “so much to be thankful for.”
If you need a boost of resilience, come to my class tonight
Five Simple Strategies to Subdue Stress
2 S. Pine Dr, Circle Pines MN
Tap into your natural core of well-being any time for stress relief, to recharge your batteries and to gain wisdom about your next steps. Respond to drama with inner strength and compassion. Integrate spiritual practice into your daily actions.
Responding to Stress from Your Inner Strength
May 14, May 21, May 28 – 7:00-8:00pm
Unity North Spiritual Center, 11499 Martin St., Coon Rapids, MN
May 14 – Boosting Your Good Vibes
Gain awareness of how negative and positive energetic vibrations impact you. Cleanse your field of depleting energetic vibrations to enhance your wellbeing.
May 21 – Love Transforms Fear
Connect to Divine Love to pre-pave a potentially stressful situation for improved results. Strengthen interpersonal relationships and resolve conflict with Divine Love.
May 28 – Creating Ripples of Peace
Create a sacred group to engage in conscious co-creation for the next seven generations. Connect to intuitive wisdom to enhance creative problem solving potential.
Pre-register for all three sessions – $100
Individual workshop – $37
50% proceeds to Unity North Spiritual Center
Call Leah to register – 651-472-3995
April 5 is International Golden Rule Day honoring the Universal Spiritual Principle written in the world’s religious scriptures using different words with the same meaning:
Treat other people the way you would like to be treated.
Let’s go the whole nine yards.
You prefer to be treated the way you prefer to be treated and not the way other people treat themselves or the way someone else wants to be treated. I can massage the calves of someone’s legs because they really like that, but please do not massage the calves of my legs because I do not like it. In fact, I might kick you if I’m not paying attention. I don’t always want the same treatment that you find pleasurable, even if you think you’re being kind. But I love to have my feet massaged which some people do not enjoy. So, ask. Check out your perception of what you consider kindness.
A guy I know was put off when a woman straightened his collar without asking. He doesn’t like being touched by people outside of his family. The touch rule goes both ways. The woman probably thought she was being kind in noticing that his collar was rumpled. She probably straightens her husband’s collar so she thought she was doing him a service. But, would she have wanted a male co-worker to straighten her collar? Even if he thought he was being kind? Hmmm. You would probably prefer to be asked, “Hey, I see your collar is rumpled. Would you like help straightening it for the photo?”
Today, on Golden Rule Day, see how much kindness you can share with the world. Focus your intention on giving and receiving kindness with an open heart. And, when in doubt, ask.
Click here to learn more about the 24 hour celebration of International Golden Rule Day.https://www.goldenruleday.org/