In the dynamic of the father and son relationship, expectations and criticism can extend from father to son, be they unspoken or not. So in today’s piece, I will speak on another chapter from the book The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida, focusing on the chapter entitled Live as if Your Father were Dead.
The father and son dynamic can be tough to navigate as a son with your father’s expectations hovering over your head or continual criticism in your ear. To that notion, I reintroduce the book The Way of the Superior Man a book, which I have reviewed on my Youtube channel that you can see here. But to narrow our focus, I will focus our attention on the chapter Live as if Your Father were Dead. The chapter premise is simple, stating.
“A man must love his father and yet be free of his father’s expectations and criticisms in order to be a free man.”
Sounds fair, I would say. So how would a son become free of his father’s expectations and criticism? The chapter directs you to do this to get in the frame of mind to understand how.
“Imagine that your father has died, or remember when he did die. Are there any feelings of relief associated with his death? Now that he is dead, is any part of you happy that you need not live up to his expectations or suffer his criticisms?”
The chapter goes on to further question you in this manner asking.
“How would you have lived your life differently if you had never tried to please your father? If you never tried to show your father that you were worthy? If you never felt burdened by your father’s critical eye?”
When I think of my relationship with my father and the different stages of my life, my answers will change. I am sure at different stages and ages for other sons, the outcome to these questions would vary as well, making them great for insight. Yet, these answers or how one would view living life another way guide us in how a son becomes his own free man.
As the chapter comes to a close, it asks one more thing of us to practice in becoming free men even if we still feel fearful, limited, unworthy, or even burdened by our father’s influence.
“For the next three days, do at least one activity a day that you have avoided or suppressed because of the influence of your father. In this way, practice being free of his subtle expectations, which may now reside within your self-judgment.”
My point is sharing this chapter; knowing the relationship I’ve had with my father helps give insight. Furthermore, I hope this may help other men gain perspective on their fathers’ relations to help them become free men in their own right.