March 14, 2006

Emotional Long-Term Insurance

I am wailing away on the manuscript for my book, Man-Making, and was going over the contributions I've gotten from men in response to research questions about manhood. I came across one idea that I just have to share in this forum. It's from a Scottish man named George Mcaluly and it's about emotional long term insurance for his sons. Feel free to post a comment below if you are as moved by his idea as I am.

Sometime after the birth of my first son, my wife and I had an experience that underlined the fragile and temporary nature of life, and I suggested that we both write a letter to our son and to the son-to-be she was expecting. If either or both of us died, then our boys would never know how much they meant to us. But if we each left a letter telling them just that, then it would be a better legacy than any amount of money. Many parents insure for their children’s financial well-being in the event of their death - how many have an insurance policy for their emotional well-being?

I started to write what I thought would be a short note. It is now six pages long and grows a little every six months or so. When it was finished, it struck me that it should be like a life insurance policy, to be handed over to the beneficiary at the end of the full term, or given at a suitable age by a trustee if you die. As I wrote, I found I could say things that they would not understand until they were much older - by which time I would probably be too much of a curmudgeon to say them, and they would be too embarrassed to hear them.

Bearing in mind our typical Scottish male aversion to verbally expressing any strong emotion for anything other than 11 men kicking a pig’s bladder about a field, (and of course anger), I think it would be a good idea for all Scots fathers to write a letter to each of their children.

I can't tell you how much I'd like a letter like that from my father or any of the elder males in my life. There is still time for you to write one to a son or boy in your life.

Thanks George.

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