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The Alpha Dad and the Beta Dad: A Punishing Tale

19 Feb

Two friends, well known to me, were talking about paternal discipline a few years back. To protect their identities and remember recently deceased, I will call them Gary and Whitney.

I have known Gary since childhood. He married Whitney a number of years ago, and I know her for over 20 years now. Gary and I happened once to talk about a friend of ours who I will call Martin, for his middle name. Gary was wistful when he talked about Martin; he recalled once being there when Martin’s father was due to arrive home. The excitement was palpable, with both Martin and his sister excited at the prospect that their father would soon return.

Martin’s father was a man with rheumy eyes and a faint whiff of alcohol about him always. He did not strike me as a very authoritative figure, but his children hung on his every word and obeyed his commands. They seemed to fear to displease him. Gary noted this and mentioned how he and his siblings never had the same reaction: their father’s return left them either indifferent, or sometimes fearful. Older then, Gary realized that his father
had never had the joyful experience for any man of seeing a bright-eyed child run to greet him upon his return home; he now valued even more highly what his father had had to go through to provide for his wife and family.

At this point Whitney chimed in. She wondered why Gary had mentioned being fearful. She, like Martin, was used to waiting in the front window with her sister, looking for any sign that her father was coming home so
they could each be the first to spot him and run to greet him. She could not imagine that sort of fearful relationship with her own father.

She asked about methods of discipline in our homes. Neither Gary nor I could recall Martin’s mentioning corporal punishment at his home, but both of us recalled the commanding tone in his father’s voice: when he spoke, we, too, obeyed. Gary and I were both spanked or beaten, I with a belt, Gary recalling that his father once used a large wooden kitchen spoon of his mother’s (that Gary then said he had thrown away and lied about having done so to his father) and one time beat his brother with a piece of wooden flooring; but generally, he used a belt.

Whitney mentioned that her father hit her or her sister only once, and never did so again. No, she said, if you disobeyed her father, you got the silent treatment. He would not talk to her or acknowledge her presence until she had apologized; he sometimes took this to the level of not acknowledging an apology unless delivered through his wife, as he would pretend he could not hear the penitent child.

Gary and I were aghast. We much preferred our own forms of discipline; Whitney agreed. It was much harder to deal with her father’s method of discipline; disobedience meant that you were a non-person in his eyes. She hated it.

And yet, Whitney revered her father. He died when she was only a young woman, a death that shocked the
hundreds of people who attended his funeral (this was years before Gary married her and before I met her, so I report her perceptions, not my own observations.) Gary told me once that she and her sister and mother were
“enthralled” by him. Years after her husband died, Whitney’s mother died. Gary told me that the number of people who showed up to give respects to a man long dead by showing for the funeral of his wife overwhelmed him; he felt the power of God and the dead man’s presence, welcoming his wife whose spirit he was too long separated from.

This was years before I stumbled on the Manosphere via a chance link at TakiMag in September, 2009. Now I would know: Martin’s dad and Whitney’s dad were both Alphas. Gary’s dad was a Beta. Having read extensively at Dalrock’s place, I can understand the source of this. While I do not recall Martin’s dad’s history, Whitney’s paternal grandfather was a respected patriarch in his community and the center of his entire extended family (so she reports). Gary’s paternal grandfather was a proto-pickup artist; Gary’s dad was the result of what we used to call a broken home (so, not surprisingly, was Gary’s mom, as he pointed out to me when we discussed alpha and beta a while back.), his father leaving to visit his mistress and their presumed love child on Thanksgiving. Gary’s dad never had the male influence teaching him the art of masculine self-control, helping him internalize the dictum “control yourself, or someone else will do it for you.”

The results in the families are instructive. Gary and his siblings racked up three divorces among them, with Gary reporting that only his and his oldest sister’s marriages of the surviving marriages could really be considered functional. That he credits to himself, but Gary, too, is (was? I turned Gary on to Dalrock and Athol…) a beta. Whitney has put up with much from Gary, but stuck it out, I think seeking in him the same sort of patriarch her own father had been. Whitney and her sister are both accomplished professional women, while Gary and his siblings, several of whom are QUITE smart, have wandered through adult life in a fog, showing the same lack of self-control that afflicts his father and mother with obesity.

Will’s article on corporal punishment brought all this back to me. I do not mean to suggest that corporal punishment makes a man beta, but that being a beta, Gary’s dad never learned limits or control. That is why he could take a wooden implement that could cause bruising and hit a child with it. That is why he would not set any punishment count or targets, but merely hit until his anger was sated; in contrast, I had other friends who could tell with amusing detail whether certain transgressions were worth the precisely measured smacks that they would earn by them.

Another thought occurs to me as I write this. There is a pleasurable aspect to corporal punishment for any man. As boys, we play at the hero, dispensing violence justly against monsters, human and not. We imagine ourselves the American soldiers in World War II liberating Dachau, or the sheriff shooting our cap guns off to bring law and justice to a frontier town. Dispensing corporal punishment in this sense provides us with a sense of participating in righteous anger, which Aquinas would tell us is not a sin, unlike Wrath.

In contrast, when I think NOW of Whitney’s dad and his method of punishment, it strikes me as something only an alpha could do. Every fiber within a father’s heart yearns to hear the pleading of a child calling to him; Whitney’s dad would not have needed to be tied to the mast to ignore the call of the Sirens as Ulysses did. We all want our children in our arms, but Whitney’s dad must have had superhuman strength to resist taking his child again in his until she agreed with his principles and accepted that she had done wrong and apologized. Whitney learned self-control, and it has kept her and Gary’s marriage together through rough times.

As a Patriactionary, I work for a society that reflects here on Earth what God has made in Heaven. The Church is the Bride of Christ, and the husband is the head of the family; the wife submits to him as the Church does to Christ. All are under the authority of the Father.

When we sin, we choose to separate ourselves from God. God does not now choose to strike us down, not even from sins crying out to heaven for retribution. God is Perfection, uncorrupt. If we die in a state of mortal
sin, we are eternally removed from his presence. He must ignore us and keep separate from us; he must TREAT US AS IF WE DID NOT EXIST. This must have hurt him more deeply than Whitney’s dad, but been of the same sort of hurt. Whitney’s dad would allow acts of contrition to come through his bride; God sent his Son as the willing innocent lamb to be sacrificed for our salvation. The Son’s bride will bring our message of
contrition to Him, and He to the Father.

So when I was asked how a Patriactionary could oppose corporal punishment, I was compelled to report this story. We can all agree that the undisciplined little brats running wild are the sign of no paternal influence; I would hope my tale has shown you that Alpha punishment is modeled on the Alpha and the Omega, and recapitulates in form and method divine Justice and Mercy. Ignoring misbehavior is easiest and worst; hitting provides some sense of justice and also pleasure; but an alpha knows that the child must internalize self-control and obedience to clearly explained rules, and will not acknowledge the child until the child can demonstrate that this lesson has been learned.

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25 Comments

Posted by on February 19, 2012 in Jail for Kids, Masculinity, Sin

 

25 responses to “The Alpha Dad and the Beta Dad: A Punishing Tale

  1. An Unmarried Man

    February 20, 2012 at 12:55 am

    I believe a father most forcefully commands by example.

    I was only spanked once as a child. I did everything wrong that a son can do, yet, I consider that at this point in my life, my sense of virtue is stronger than most other people’s.

    As a father, you must work not to correct each and every situation; you need to mold the values of your child by example. You may have been the most depraved, opportunistic AND psychopathic rake ever while your child was in his mother’s womb. How did you live your life once they were born?

     
  2. Will S.

    February 20, 2012 at 2:00 am

    @ EA: Interesting. I can well see how ignoring a kid could be more effective than giving them spankings then dropping the matter; children hate being ignored, and will do anything to stop their parents from ignoring them (my parents sometimes deployed that tactic on me, and I didn’t like it. OTOH, I also didn’t like the wooden spoon, wielded by my mother, and if my dad, who got less angry than my mom did, and was less likely to slap me, did so nevertheless, it stung more than just physically). And I can see that it must be difficult for a dad to ignore his children, just as it was for Abraham to ignore Isaac when preparing to kill him – and God the father turning His back on His Son, on the Cross.

    So, I see your point. But, as with my varied reactions to the different punishments meted out by my parents upon me, I think it should be up to each parent to decide for themselves which punishments they wish to deploy. And just as being a beta isn’t a sin or wrong, even though being an alpha is better for you, so too should we not want the State interfering, IMO, in how we parent, even if we feel certain parenting methods are better than others.

    @ David: Agreed; boys especially, watch their fathers and want to grow up to be like them.

     
  3. samsonsjawbone

    February 20, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Wow, this is thought-provoking. (That’s all I have time for.)

     
  4. ray

    February 20, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    i dislike the alpha-beta terminology (preferred it as a grocery store)

    i see these guys like the Spearhead site owner calling himself “beta” and wha? — good looking guy in his thirties, bright, diligent, healthy happy kids, and most importantly doing god’s work . . . yet imagines he’s a “beta”?

    LOL!

    as last resort, a couple swats is usually enough to straighten the little ones — heck all my old ozark friends had to do was reach for the flyswatter (which they never used) and the girls would shape right up

    problem with whipping is it’s often out of control, and also that, historically, severe beatings have almost always been administered to males, and rarely females (real surprised eh?)

    sparta was the most matriarchal of the greek city-states, and they regularly whipped (severely) spartan boys in front of the statue of Athena . . . so they’d know who was boss

    beating boys doesnt make stronger men, it makes more compliant, traumatised men

    the southern u.s. has a horrible history of physical abuse of boys in orphanages etc (google the “white house” of marianna florida, e.g.)

    things can veer towards sadism and “overcorrection” VERY quickly, especially when secondary implements (sticks, belts, paddles) are used — some southern baptist churches (black) practice this as an integral part of their “worship services”

    Proverbs, mentioned previously, is not an authoritative book — it is not god’s word, like christ’s comments or those of the o.t. prophets — like mosaic law, Proverbs was broad advice meant for its place and time, no more applicable to today’s world than the circumcision covenant

    if jesus thought whipping boys was sufficienty important and requisite, he’d have said so

    sadistic and out-of-control beating of little boys is still a big problem in the u.s., and elsewhere . . . anybody who engages in this, i’ll tell you right now, youre in a lot of trouble

     
  5. Svar

    February 20, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    I second Samson. This is very thought provoking.

     
  6. ElectricAngel

    February 20, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    @Samson, Svar:

    credit to Will, who caused me to reflect on these older discussions. As you get older and lose the child’s focus on what a parent did to you, you begin to see what they had to do and put up with. Gary’s understanding that his father had also lost out on what should be the payment a man receives helped me also get beyond a childish view of my own parents.

    @David,

    we ought focus on the imitation of Christ. The process of this starts as you suggest: with a boy modeling his behavior on the lived experience with his father.

    @Ray

    alpha/beta is a good shorthand, but doesn’t capture the essence of masculinity. I think the pickup artist succeeds with women because he is a narcissist. he worships himself, which tops worshipping a woman. worshipping God tops all these.

    you are correct that the lash falls most heavily on men. Roping young men and controlling their power and desire to upset the established order has much to do with what you wrote. young men like Svar who refuse to buy the nonsense that this society regularly dishes out to men will be the vanguard that overturns The existing order. Big fan of the Fourth Turning.

     
  7. Will S.

    February 20, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    @ ray: “Proverbs, mentioned previously, is not an authoritative book — it is not god’s word, like christ’s comments or those of the o.t. prophets — like mosaic law, Proverbs was broad advice meant for its place and time, no more applicable to today’s world than the circumcision covenant.”

    It’s part of the Biblical canon. Are you Protestant? Then you should view it as equally inspired as the rest of canon. Are you Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox? Then you should view that the Church Fathers chose to include it in the canon for a reason.

    Wisdom literature is just that – a guide to what is wise; the logical corollary being, if one disregards it, one is being foolish. The idea that any Scripture, wisdom literature included, is only applicable to the time and place in which it was written, has been used by liberal mainline Protestants to disregard / discard any teachings they don’t like – such as the moral laws, esp. as regards sexual morality – homosexuality, fornication, and the like.

    We should be very wary of adopting the same kind of reasoning they do.

    The abuse of parental authority doesn’t negate its legitimacy when done right, any more than people misusing firearms to commit murder, negates their legitimacy in killing rabid animals, foxes trying to get into the chicken coop, wolves or coyotes trying to steal sheep, etc. Only liberals blame the guns themselves; we know that people, not guns, kill people – and can do so with baseball bats; we wouldn’t ban baseball bats, would we?

    Yes, some people may go too far in beating their kids. But that doesn’t necessarily in and of itself prove that corporal punishment is immoral.

    What other advice in Proverbs should we consider only of its time, not worth paying attention to, in our modern day? Avoiding adultery? Not getting drunk? Surely still today, a wise man doesn’t have extramarital affairs, nor does he think drunkenness is wise behaviour.

    Ditto all the other advice, as to what is wise, and what is not, in Proverbs.

    After all, human nature doesn’t change. That’s why the moral laws still apply. And wise advice, is still wise advice.

    Proverbs stands, with the rest of Scripture. Either Scripture – all of it – is authoritative, across time, place, culture, etc., yesterday, today, and forever – with its moral laws binding, and its definitions of what is wise, still applicable – or it isn’t, and we should abandon it in favour of secular liberalism.

    But I don’t think we want to do that, if we’re traditionalist Christians, now, do we?

     
  8. Will S.

    February 20, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Now, the good thing about Proverbs, is, that one may find alternative solutions, as ElectricAngel here proposes, to problems, different than the wisdom literature. IOW, there may be other wise paths, other solutions to problems that are wise, shrewd, worth considering – that weren’t covered in Proverbs. Proverbs surely, after all, was not meant to be exhaustive; it wasn’t meant to be something that says “This alone is what constitutes wisdom; ignore any other ideas.” By no means.

    So, we can freely choose, if it seems wise, other solutions, as EA proposes, here; I think there’s much wisdom in EA’s approach, much to commend it. I simply don’t think the other approach is illegitimate, nor do I want the State banning it, interfering in how parents may choose to parent their kids. They may rightly choose anything other than extreme beating; they may choose corporal punishment, or they can choose the silent treatment, financial penalties, whatever. If a given approach works good for one set of parents, good for them. If another approach works good for other parents, also, good for them, too. If a certain approach doesn’t work, then one may wish to reconsider it; as has been said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting to get different results.

     
  9. Svar

    February 20, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Will has a point. EA’s method does have alot of wisdom, but that doesn’t discredit the rod. Proverbs is a part of canon.

    I personally would rather use EA’s method and spare the rod for the most egregious cases.

     
  10. rayy

    February 20, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    ps meant to include ecclesiastes along with proverbs — derivative of men (tho good men) but not inspired by god, non-canonical

    thx

     
  11. Will S.

    February 21, 2012 at 12:11 am

    @ ray: How do you figure that either Proverbs or Ecclesiastes are not inspired? That’s not what the Church has said, consistently, down through the ages. They are canonical, because they are considered inspired.

    Traditionalist Christians generally go along with the canon of their respective traditions. There are differences between them, over the books we Protestants call the Apocrypha, which Catholics consider part of the canon but Protestants reject, but other than those, we have identical canons.

     
  12. CL

    February 21, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    the commanding tone in his father’s voice

    This is crucial. This was certainly how it worked with me and my brother – a simple, authoritatively delivered warning was enough to stop us in our tracks. Furthermore, the “rod” could just as easily be a guiding tool, like a shepherd’s staff, and not simply something used to whack a child with. Corporal punishment may have its place, but sparingly and not so as to cause real injury or done in anger.

     
  13. samsonsjawbone

    February 21, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    the commanding tone in his father’s voice

    This is the reason my wife has a little trouble being authoritative with our kids. She’s just such a nice person that it’s hard for her to be really commanding.

     
  14. CL

    February 21, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    samson, it’s the same for me and I don’t think “nice” really comes into it. It’s just the difference between a man’s natural authority and a woman’s assumed authority. Remember when mothers would say “Just wait until your father gets home!”?

    My kids don’t take me very seriously a lot of the time unless I threaten them with “the slipper”, which I have only used a few times. They know how that thing stings, so the threat is enough to quell the drama (most of the time). And they do say “I love you mom” several times a day so I don’t think an occasional slipper to the butt is harmful. When it’s a single swat, not done in anger or hard enough to leave a mark but to correct, is when it’s most effective.

     
  15. electricangel1978

    February 22, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    @CL

    Yes, a deep bass voice commands authority. Just heard Hans Peter Konig as Hagen in Gotterdammerung at the Met, and you can easily understand how that booming voice and character could lead people about, in this case to disaster, in a Patriarchal marriage to Heaven.

     
  16. infowarrior1

    December 9, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Problem is dispensed improperly. Corporal punishment leads to hatred and even occassional violence against the parent dispensing the violence when the child is old enough. I know of a person that resented his father so much that he even assaulted him because of corporal punishment.

     
  17. electricangel1978

    December 11, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    @Infowarrior,

    Is it your opinion that it can never be dispensed properly? Or that it usually is dispensed improperly, but can be?

     
  18. infowarrior1

    December 12, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    All I see is a man that is screwed up by corporal punishment in his childhood and resents it to this day.

    Since reliable studies done on corporal punishment in all cases support the case that it increases psychological disturbance in the child I say it is largely mostly inefficient and ineffective. Treating the child as a non-person is more effective as a punishment for severe offences.

    http://www.hrw.org/news/2008/08/22/corporal-punishment-proves-be-discriminatory-ineffective

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4640046/Cancer-risk-of-smacking-kids.html

    http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/robert_ingersoll/corporal_punishment.html

     

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