Fatherhood is a Choice
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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.