It’s Father’s Day 2008. Time to reflect on fatherhood. And that ultimately leads to responsibility, and in no small way, pride.
In talking about this, I may be rushing it a bit for my male Millennial students. Hopefully, they will put off fathering children until they are ready to accept the awesome responsibility of raising the child to adulthood.
I am a father and a grandfather, and I know about this firsthand. Being a father is the highest, best, and most rewarding of all the experiences a man can have. But with its unprecedented rewards come formidable challenges and unrelenting responsibility.
Fatherhood tests a man as no other challenge can. It is the most important role a man can play for the good of the child, of the family, and of all of society, too.
No man worthy of being called a man should ever bring a child into the world without making a 100 percent commitment to raising that child to independent, productive adulthood. That means:
- Protecting and providing for the child 24/7 for 20 years minimum.
- Providing for the safety and security of the mother and the child.
- Maintaining a stable home environment, with the father a significant, ongoing presence in it. Children need the balance, the yin-yang of mother and father.
- Teaching the child right from wrong.
- Helping the child learn to make wise decisions, wise choices.
- Nurturing the child mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
- Opening up the world of learning, creativity, self-expression, responsibility, and productivity to the child through a wide variety of well-thought-out educational and learning opportunities.
- Helping a child learn to read early and to read well.
- Helping a child with homework, projects, attending field trips, school functions, soccer games, in short, supporting the child in anything the child chooses to do to learn and grow.
Fathers must realize that their stewardship is short-lived. All too soon, the child will leave the parent, hopefully, to do what the child was taught to do — live responsibly, productively, and independently.
Enter Oedipus. In a key scene in the story of Oedipus, the protagonist, who does not realize who the stranger is, meets his true father Laius on the road to Thebes. They fight over whose wagon has right of way, and Oedipus’ pride drives him to kill his true father Laius.
When fathers and sons/daughters each try to pull their own wagons, they often clash over right of way. Hopefully, they’ll find compromise and accommodation without taking Oedipus’ extreme measures. It is to be expected that the child will, in his/her own mind anyway, move beyond the perceived narrow and provincial confines of his/her father’s right of way. Hopefully, the two paths will converge again somewhere down the pike in a harmonious and mutually beneficial way for all concerned.
Choosing to become a father is life’s highest calling, but gentlemen, be aware of the responsibilities. If you are not up to it, then don’t do it.