On Fathering: Fatherhood and the messy in-between

Posted: June 19, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Disclaimer: This is an honest opinion, watered by the facts of my own experiences. I must admit I am an idealist and much of my life experiences is impacted by this annoying trait. This means the way I see things may not be favourable but it is my ultimate goal that we can learn from any life view.

I have always been reluctant to address Father’s Day in a real way because it is indeed a Hallmark type moment that conjures too many realities amidst commercialization. I have also been reluctant because the people I love the most may also feel a bit hurt if I were to be all the way honest. So today’s approach to to speak to concepts rather then naming names.

It has occurred to me that the average male is not prepared for this regardless of the timing. I have seen men who waited for the later years of their life and even the marriage scenario, still stumble, fumble and bumble Fatherhood. It could be simply that the journey of fatherhood has no manual or more complex it could be the fear that no matter how well one embarks on fatherhood inadequacies come into play especially when the child becomes wayward, ungreatful or worst a prison inmate (perhaps the greatest fear of any parent in that their child would die before them and next to that–their child becomes a criminal).

So what is fatherhood? In my opinion it is the journey of responsibility for a life, bestowing knowledge one has or has gathered, being honest about fumbles, displaying manhood in a realistic sense (manhood is a major complexity on its own as we have allowed society to write that script, with horrible outcomes like “men don’t cry” etc.), nurturing a child through life’s balance that is, where it is accepted that parenting takes more than 1. Finally fatherhood is a spiritual journey this bit is open to interpretation since many people can only fathom spirituality amidst religion.
I suggest the spiritual is where a Father and Mother embody depth, morality and renewal, you see in my view a Father should point us to better,should inspire us to take ourselves and our world higher—but that’s just my idealism speaking.

The messy in-between
This is almost too much to bare! When talking about fathering we cannot ignore the approach taken to mothering!! Too many women choose a father for their unborn child without contemplating the role this most times reluctant male will play in the life of their child. Then there is the idea that the men too often approach the act of sex from a very limited involvement, they are less likely to worry about protection against STIs much less prevention of childbearing. A teacher once told me that “if people are not ready to have children they should not engage in sex”. I queried this very strict reading of sex but must say she had a great point. You see sex is also for procreating and too often folks get caught up in the ‘feel good’ without engaging with the very real possibility of bringing forth a life. Don’t think I will let off the hook the men who whether through fear or dishonesty lead women to think they are on board with whatever or whoever comes of their union. Oh and another force not to be dismissed–mass media! If we follow media and its misrepresentations you would think only white dads love their children. One has to wonder if these misrepresentations did not also play a role in perpetuating the single mother motif among black folk. After all if the space we tend to learn most about ourselves from is either rendering us invisible or bad, what does that mean for our lived experiences?
The lesser understood concept are the fathers who did not want to be fathers but went ahead, they got married and tried the picket fence lifestyle and somehow their spirits were not into it. Some of these men were free spirits at best or at worst the twisted type of man who felt jealous of the love the child seemed to get from the mother, they had a strange feeling of abandonment.
This messy inbetween forms the stock of too many experiences with fatherhood. The messy in-between however is LIFE!

What can we learn or should we?

Don’t know if we can learn anything here, since there is a very real chance that no matter how many forums or platforms we try there will always be something missing as the experience of fathering will not be without missteps.

However I would not have gotten this far in the blog without the need to admonish in some way those who may read this.  Here goes:

Be Honest! This is for men and women please be honest with yourselves first and then with each other about whether you want to have children and the responsibilities that entails.  I cannot overemphasize the ripple effects that strained relationships have on women and men who once were children just longing to be loved/nurtured and guided through what can be a very challenging world. As a daughter I can express that both my parents and their distinct relation to me has shaped me.  Some of the bad traits and good traits I possess can be directly linked to the varied touchstones I never got.  I have unfortunately spent significant years in my life living a life that is less than my potential and the undoing of my past experiences becomes a second job in my current state.

I will always and have always loved my Dad and Mom relentlessly, fervently and idealistically and this may have been the source of my undoing!!

  1. isitthattime says:

    I loved this because you have approached the whole issue with complete honesty & self examination.

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