A Father’s Role to an Adolescent Child

<500 Years of a Elite Child Eductaion>, <Parental Qualifications>
 Hyochan Choi endured through a long journey of puberty with his son. They realized that the father’s role needs to be bigger than the mother’s role to a child going through puberty.
Illustration — Jiha Kim

Protecting Mother, Teaching Father

According to an Indian legend, a mother holds her child in her arms with joy and says, “I will comfort you.” But the father takes the child to the mountaintop and says, “Look, I will show you what the world is like.” This legend was introduced in Michael J. Diamond’s book <My Father Before Me>. Of course there are mothers who actively try to show the world to their children, but educational professionals claim that maternal and paternal natural instincts are different. Mothers bore the baby in their body for 10 months so naturally their natural instinct is to protect the child. On the other hand, the father didn’t physically bear the child so his protective instinct isn’t as strong, but he’s more inclined to teach the lessons learned from his failures and and mistakes in hopes that his child won’t experience as many falls and detours. This is because he wants his child to be more competent and successful than himself. For example, a father who doesn’t know how to play a musical instrument nor swim will want his child to play a musical instrument and swim well. This is because he believes that one of the best hobbies is to play the piano, which could also relieve stress. I wanted my son to take piano lessons when he was in middle school because growing up in a small town, I envied piano players the most. But not a lot of piano schools would accept a middle school student because most students were elementary school students. When I finally found a school that would accept him, my wife couldn’t understand why it was necessary to send him to a school where he’s unwelcomed because of his age. The way we expressed our love for our child was different.

Mother’s step back, Father’s step forward

It’s not uncommon to see mother’s who cause stress to their children by breathing down their necks about getting good grades. There are definitely fathers who just passively watch their wives teach their children ways of life. So we understand that the assumptions made previously regarding the maternal and paternal instincts can be questionable. The answer to this can be found in <The Art of Loving> by Erich Fromm. “Mother is the home we come from. She is nature, soil, ocean.” A child may leave his mother’s womb, but the child will still emotionally rely on the mother. He’ll become more independent as the child grows up. Once the child enters puberty around the age of 12, he wants to be completely independent. This is when the father’s role is more important. Fromm emphasized, “A father represents the world through law and order, discipline, travel and adventure, etc. A father teaches his child, guiding the way into the world.” Maternal love that cannot let go of the soul tie with their child most of the time has a negative effect. Sometimes mothers push their agendas on their child too much in the name of love and honor, which causes deeper estranged relationships between them. Hence, we hear stories of children running away from home when they want to rebel especially during their puberty. Even children who seemed to be obedient sometimes become rebellious. This is why the father’s role during their puberty is important. He can help the child become independent from their mother and guide them into the ways of life to the world. It is important for the mother to discuss with the father to be on the same page and support him as he guides their children while trusting and encouraging their child.

Farewell, My Son

The movie <Pelle The Conqueror> ends with a very sad and dramatic scene of a father of old age saying farewell to his adolescent son leaving home. This scene ends with a snowstorm by the sea shore along with sad background music as the father waves his hand to his son. In this movie, Pelle is more a conqueror of his dream rather than a conqueror of monarchy. I was able to travel with my son 12 times every summer and winter vacation since he was 12 years old. He safely walked through puberty during that time. I believe conversations during our trips were active character building learning experiences for him. If parents with adolescent children are able to identify and separate their roles accordingly, I’m sure they’ll be able to help guide their children across the bridge of puberty to the world. I’d like to emphasize that it helps for the

mother to take a step back and for the father to take a step forward when the child is going through puberty. When the child is able to journey through puberty well, the parents will be able to overcome their marital struggles as well. If not, the relationship between parents and children will continue to be conflicting and estranged. Tolstoy said in his book <Anna Karenina> that “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in it’s own way.” I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that it begins with proper distribution of parental roles.

Bold Journal Issue №3 — Puberty

Words Hyochan Choi

His dream was to be a diplomat when he enrolled in the Department of Political Science and Diplomacy at Yonsei University. He planned to study abroad after working at Kyunghyang Daily News for a short period, but 17 years flew by as a reporter. After his resignation, he started traveling with his 12 year old son. The journey of these trips are written in <Development Travels for Hyochan Choi’s Son> and continues to write books that address parental concerns, such as, <500 Years of a Elite Child Education>, <Global Elite Child Education>, <Parental Qualifications> etc.

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