Dads shoulder a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, burden.
Our advice track record [gulp] sucks. We have trouble with the curve.
For an enormous swath of time, we struggle to spawn value from our freely given advice.
As we head into Father’s Day, this advice bane bears examination.
A Fractious Advice Balance
Dads accumulate and dispense wisdom on fairly regular basis to an initially captive, and much later, a generally tolerant audience.
This progresses nicely to a point, but dads get weary. They take mid-day naps, become more forgetful and this naturally erodes their rate of generating wisdom – resulting in a gentle and majestic upward sloping advice supply curve.
Children also have a need and desire to apply a portion of this useful fatherly advice – which varies intensely over time. This can best be expressed by a u-shaped advice demand curve.
Where the two curves meet, the dad-o-nomics of advice are in equilibrium. Where the two curves diverge, fathers are either superheroes or feckless morons.
The Arc of Attention
Early on, when kids can’t Google it to the contrary, they need dads’ counsel. We have so much trouble keeping up with the demand, that we cleverly outsource some of the responsibility to teachers, siblings, iPads, kids on the bus, and cable TV.
We help them with very practical matters: cat litter is not food, stoves get pretty freaking hot, moms have eyes everywhere, refrain from using the seven words you can’t say on TV (especially around people you know).
So we bask in the arc of attention for a solid 12 year run.
Then out of nowhere, we start to have trouble with the curve.
Into the Abyss
Once-hallowed, dependable dispensaries of advice – dads veer sharply from the mainstream of sages to the margin of misfits.
We lose our footing and sharply become irrelevant on nearly every topic: tech, fashion, pop culture, religion, geopolitics, and everyday math. Dads use logic when emotion is raging. We attempt to diffuse situations with gags that formerly caused cause milk to stream out of our kids noses.
We zig when we should zag. Our mojo is gone, and we slide to a low point – where we founder in the trough of delusion. This may require an intervention.
The Rise of Reason
Fortunately for dads, hormones can’t rage forever, and we regain our consciousness. The good distance created by college and entry into the world of responsibility create natural reparation points.
While children still keep a comfortable distance on matters like fashion and dating – they actually become knowledge-seekers on more adult concerns like financing, car repair and power tools
Bam! Dads’ advice is back in vogue, and we aggressively close the advice utility gap until we float effortlessly into the sea of sagacity.
Thank Him Anyway
Dads start strong, We finish strong. We gut out the middle with a degree of grace.
So if your Dad is in the abyss, throw him a few props to sustain him on Sunday.
On Father’s Day we should be feted, no matter where we are on the curve.