Fatherhood is a Choice
Is This Your Choice Or Hers
Babysitters go home, fathers don’t. Well not always, some fathers do go home. Maybe it’s better to say you can get a new babysitter but… Well that doesn’t really work either, lots of women believe that fathers are interchangeable. I guess the real point is not how others define you as a father, but how you choose to define yourself as a father. This begins with your choice to be a father and it is the most important part of your fatherhood.
The only reproductive rights that men legally possess is their CHOICE!
I can’t stress enough how important this choice is for every man to make about fatherhood, even those struggling with it. Whether you realize it or not and I encourage you to give this some serious thought and take a good look around, fatherhood in the majority of cases is an assignment not a choice. Against the discomfort of the word many men come to be fathers by coercion. It’s a simple question to ask of any father. Did you plan your parenthood? Did you plan to be a father or did it result from circumstances, as an assignment? Were you coerced to father? You will no doubt be surprised at what you hear and it should give weight to what you are reading.
There is one very good reason to exercise choice when it comes to fathering, confidence. What you may already know about yourself is that you experience a different outcome when you make a conscious choice as opposed to dealing with the surprise of circumstance. Planning opens you to the process. Surprise will put you in an emotionally defensive and apprehensive state. It’s hard to be confident when you feel off balance. Imagine your walking down a path facing forward you see your obstacles and you respond to the environment naturally, comfortably, knowingly. Now imagine walking the same path backwards, guided by someone interpreting your balance and defining the obstacles.
If you face forward you will have the confidence that you naturally possess. Backwards makes you dependent, nervous, awkward and unsettled. If you look around at men with children, you can tell if they have made the choice themselves or submitted to coercion and circumstance. You can tell by their confidence and ability to be an independent parent, they have no dependency for direction, they are in the experience, not managing it. They do not parent by proxy. You will find the same is true of women and their dependency on day cares.
In the past, there was a television show called “wait till your father gets home” and most families lived this way. The mother carried out the feel good side of parenting and the father was used as a disciplinary threat. You may want to rethink allowing that kind of identity to define your fatherhood. Your fatherhood is yours, don’t hand over it’s definition to a partner as a faithful gesture of love or commitment to the relationship. Never confuse the idea that the relationship with your children should be determined by anyone other than you.
You should know that there are two sources of influence that will affect your fathering experience and your freedom to father. The first is you, the internal, your complete state of balance, your experience, your emotional maturity, ethical and spiritual beliefs, physical health, your complete state of being. This is what you bring and rely on to exchange with your child. Only you can know if these personal elements are harmonious enough to move forward with fatherhood. The second source is out there, the world, your relationship with it, your collaboration with prosperity your ability to provide material support continually and consistently.
It’s a serious decision to be a father. Your undertaking a relationship with a person whose identity, beliefs, character and well being are influenced and formed by your participation. I believe that decision should be made personally as an individual. As adults we understand that an intimate relationship or marriage can end, but we never divorce our children. Imagine your partner out of the equation, imagine yourself as a single parent. As a personal commitment to your children, could you have children as a single person? If you can’t answer that then maybe your not ready to make such a commitment to those children.
If you are considering fatherhood and are not yet a parent get informed, find out. What you find out later may prove to be a painful experience you would have avoided had you known. Bemoaning the fact later will eat you up and could destroy the relationship with your children. Since it’s something that will affect your life give it some serious thought. Find out what it means to be a father legally and what it means to you personally.
The first thing you should understand is that men have no reproductive rights in law. We can’t have an abortion, there is no pill or injection yet, paternity tests are not required, if she says so it must be so. The law really does view men’s paternity like a passenger on a bus. If your getting on pay the fare and be prepared to give up your seat. The only way that we can exercise any reproductive rights as men is by participation. Since it is the only right you have you should exercise it very carefully and with great caution. Once your on the bus the choice to get off is no longer yours.
Fatherhood has been under attack for at least 40 years and has been rendered almost irrelevant in western society. You may not have noticed but many institutions don’t really include men in their definition, understanding or view of the “family”. You may feel as a father you have certain rights that would protect your relationship with your children. I suggest you talk candidly with a lawyer and get the facts. The laws in your area may not support your view or beliefs. Chances are during a divorce or breakup, neither will the mother.
Circumstances that influence choice should be weighed closely. Men are predisposed to take risks and solve problems, parenting is not and should never be a solution. The obligation to yourself and to a child should be much deeper and if it isn’t you will experience the emotional pain that will accompany your solution. It’s only a matter of time, count on it.
Courtship and marriage traditionally are the precursors to fatherhood for a man. Marriage can result from stressors and pressures applied by family members, your partner and the larger community. Marriage is often viewed as the right thing to do and sets an ethical interpretation on your personal value in the community. Even your nation wants you to produce new tax payers. Never confuse your role as a tax payer, church member, citizen, brother, husband or individual with your role as a father. Your commitment to your children as who you are, is the umbilical cord that will feed both them and you. Nourish them with your wholeness and they will nourish you with their innocence. Innocence is the only thing that will keep you young.
Seems an unusual header, but I would love nothing better than to grind the point home. Fatherhood is neither an appliance nor an accessory to the family unit. Historically it may have been subject to this kind of implementation to fulfill the financial provider role of the family, but times change so let’s.
You may find that when it comes to fathering the dialogue between men is pretty limited if it exists at all. I believe traditionally men have been assigned a very narrow definition of fatherhood but never really owned the position as their own. Fatherhood has always been subject to someone else’s definition.Fathers are often viewed as relief parents or babysitters. What most fail to grasp in western society is that men experience fatherhood as a designation not a choice. The evidence of this can be found throughout main stream media.
Your choice to be a father along with it’s definition and significance should be determined by you and you alone. We as men are now free to choose our fatherhood and to define the scope of what it will mean. Embracing your fatherhood as a choice will help to relieve you of the common bigotry and sexism that so many try to assign to it. You are free to define it, explore it, understand it, mold it, develop it and apply it. After all your a man, just what is it you cannot do when you choose it. Your choice is your freedom. Your freedom is something that your government and it’s courts are quite happy to remove from you.
I suppose I’m a bit of an odd case, I’m 54 years old with a 31 year old daughter a 28 year old son and a 7 year old son. I grew up in foster care from the age of 10 and my father died when I was 16. I have however had hundreds of hours of conversation with my oldest son and he is single with no kids. I’ve seen a number of fathering styles with one consistency, a narrow definition accompanied by a lack of confidence. Many excellent fathers don’t even know it, they are waiting to be told and hoping they will be judged as a good father.
Since I left my natural family at age 10 my role models were removed from my life very early. My parenting has been more thoughtful and difficult than a repeated habit of care learned from my parents. I was always less likely to default to my own experience of childhood, since I didn’t always agree with it. These days technology changes our choices so quickly that we need to think through those choices much more carefully. Defaulting to the habits of a previous generation is just not sound anymore, we have to participate with our children in a much more profound way. Now more than ever it’s important that fatherhood results from an informed choice, your choice.
I’m convinced that the fathering experience is governed by economics in ways that motherhood isn’t. It’s 2011 and only now are women in the workplace making dollars that are greater than their spouse. The traditional role of men is to provide and outside that context we are pretty stigmatized. Regardless of women’s progress in the workplace, I for one am not confident that a woman would support a stay at home father to the same degree that men have supported women. I’m even less likely to believe that the courts have this capacity.
Let’s face it, who is going to tell a woman she’s a lousy wife and mother for not supporting her family, please. The fathering role has been pretty confining for men, money first and any time remaining is spent trying to equal out the responsibilities for home and then children. I think many would agree that men first answer to their wives before their children, whereas women tend to answer to their children before their husband.
The consistent element seems to be what I would call designated show-up fathering. These are fathers that know they have kids but don’t really know what’s going on with their kids. Their fathering is often from the cuff and make do. Traditionally the role of father has been a designation of responsibility an accessory to mothering as a relief parent. There has been very little freedom to father. Take back your fatherhood from those who have taken it from you, fathering is what you give your children directly.