Discover more from The Daily Draft
Fatherhood & Stoicism: Is This Philosophy for Sociopaths?
Do stoics turn their emotions off
A reader asked me, “Do you want your kids to die?” and another asked, “Do you really picture your children dying, or do you say that to be extreme?”
These questions stem from last Sunday’s addition to the ever-growing Fatherhood and Stoicism series, where I shared my recommendation for fathers to incorporate Negative Visualizations into their daily routine to help offset complacency and taking their time with loved ones for granted.
I will continue publishing Fatherhood and Stoicism articles every Sunday (and other content throughout the week) for the life of this publication.
If you enjoy the writing, become a paying subscriber & support the time and effort put into building this resource.
Stoicism, often misunderstood, is not about extinguishing emotions…entirely.
As fathers, we navigate the challenges of family life daily, where emotional turmoil can be overwhelming at times. From brushing teeth and getting ready for bed to letting go, offering new (and stressful) levels of freedom and trust, Stoicism can help where emotions tend to run high. The advice offered has been applicable for thousands of years of raising families and living life.
What we’re facing is nothing new, but it’s new to us, so we need to talk about it.
By adopting stoic principles, we can embrace a balanced approach to our feelings while fostering a harmonious environment for our loved ones.
At its core, stoicism emphasizes the idea that we have control over our emotions and responses to external events. All of the Stoics I’ve read have advocated for acquiring emotional resilience, wisdom, and a sense of tranquility. However, it is essential to debunk the misconception that stoicism devalues emotions. Instead, it encourages a mindful approach to emotions, avoiding their irrational domination to make balanced choices and deliver intentional responses.
No man is free who is not master of himself.
To answer the questions above:
I do not want my children out of my life, and I do envision losing them at the end of each day.
I’m not doing this because I don’t want to feel anything if something were to happen; this is not about becoming an apathetic sociopath who feels nothing but acceptance.
Stoicism enables me most appreciate my children; unlike the man who never considers the fact that his children are mortal, I know mine are not going to be here forever, thus I appreciate every second we have together.
Tomorrow my number might be punched; that’s okay because I said and did all I needed to say and do today.
The man who thought he had another 40 years minimum with his kids, do you think he’s saying and doing all of the things he’ll wish he had if something were to happen?
Fathers play a crucial role in shaping their children's emotional intelligence.
By embodying stoic principles, fathers exhibit emotional control that children can emulate. By demonstrating how to respond rather than react to challenging situations, fathers encourage emotional stability and self-awareness in their children.
Stoic fathers master the art of patience, allowing them to navigate the ups and downs inherent in family life.
By practicing empathy, they strive to understand their family members' perspectives, fostering open dialogue and connection. Stoicism teaches fathers to value listening as much as speaking, enhancing the quality of communication within the family unit.
When faced with the chaos of family life, anger can be challenging to control.
Stoicism guides fathers to understand that anger often stems from unmet expectations;
How many times would you be willing to admit this was the source of your problems in the first place?
Few fathers are open to the idea that they are the problem, as their example is what created the situation in the first place. Unmet desires run rampant in homes and parent-child relationships suffer due to these unstated standards or expectations.
You are the problem, Dad; you are also the solution.
By reevaluating these expectations and focusing on reasonable goals, stoic fathers can approach situations calmly, diffusing potential conflicts within the household.
Stoicism also teaches fathers the importance of discerning what is within their control and what isn't. It encourages them to let go of unnecessary worries by concentrating on what they can change. This mindset enables fathers to cultivate resilience, adaptability, and a clear sense of priorities while fostering a positive environment for their families. The more I apply Stoic principles and teachings to my day-to-day engagement with the kids, the more I find myself understanding that life is just life; the less I care about striving for perfection, and the more I accept I can only do my best, the better everyone’s life is.
Fathers must be present and engaged with their families.
Stoic principles emphasize the value of mindful moments and being fully present for family interactions. By consciously immersing ourselves in experiences, fathers can foster deeper emotional connections and create lasting memories.
Stoicism encourages fathers to express love and gratitude openly. By celebrating family achievements, acknowledging the love shared, and expressing genuine appreciation, fathers create an emotionally nurturing environment. Stoicism reminds us that our emotions are not a weakness but a strength when used to foster love, appreciation, and belonging.
Those who think stoics and strong men feel no emotions, are removing the strength and core of Stoicism itself. It’s not that these philosophers (strong men at large) do not feel, it’s that they are not governed by their feelings.
These men often show more love, and public displays of appreciation than weaker men fearing the judgement of their peers, instead focused on perception more than the actualization of a solid foundation.
Strong men are rooting for those who are just getting started on their fitness journey - weak men are judging.
Strong men will play with kids, and tell them they’re proud - weak men control and critique every move.
Strong men can shed a tear, and it means something - weak men hide their emotions, or drown in them.
The best men I know feel heavy feelings, and they handle them.
Kids Are Just Young Adults
Remember, our children must navigate these rough waters of emotions also, so the next time you catch yourself letting things slip away to becoming too extreme, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on how your children feel when they have something going on.
As human beings, we are all dealing with our response to the external events of life. Your sons and daughters being kids, does not negate the fact that people are people; emotion does not discriminate based on age.
Stoicism, when applied in the realm of fatherhood and family life, transforms emotions from erratic forces of disconnect to tools for personal growth and emotional connection.
By embracing stoic principles, fathers can model emotional control, empathy, and resilience. By striving to let go of the uncontrollable and focusing on being present and cultivating gratitude, us family men can create a harmonious atmosphere that encourages emotional growth and stability within our families.
So, let us embark on this stoic journey, where emotions are not stifled but harnessed for the betterment of ourselves and our loved ones.
- Zachary Small