From Broken Boys to Whole Men: #2 – Being a "Good" Father
June 15, 2019
My kids are growing up fast—16, 18, and 21—and my relationships with them manifest differently than they used to but being a good father still means what it did when they were younger: balancing nurture and physicality with directness, clarity, and bringing things up sooner rather than later.
Most dads today face this challenge of adding “Nurturer” to all the other roles fathers have been expected to play: provider, protector, partner, fixer-of-broken-things.
I’m still the primary bread-and-benefits winner, though I know that’s an area of role-reversal in heterosexual relationships, as women under 30 now earn 50% of the bachelor’s degrees in spite of continued male-female wage disparities.
At the same time, I’m lucky enough to be married to a woman with whom I have shared discipline throughout our child-rearing years, communicating clear expectations and consequences: our goal has always been for our kids to become self-regulating, autonomous adults.
I came by the nurturing role honestly—I am a pastor for good reason, after all—but healthy boundaries, clear expectations, and directness have been traits I have had to grow into, largely as a result of having to parent.
I’m thankful that, although I had a more distant relationship with my own father during specific periods in my life, I have fond memories of doing all kinds of things with him, he was openly affectionate with us, and in my 40s he and I attended to our “unfinished business” before he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and then died in early 2017.
This happened because we prioritized that: It was essential to each of our health, as it is for every father and son.
Identifying and making time for the most important people and things in our lives is not an easy task because it entails saying “No” to some things in order to say “Yes” to others.
I’m reading the book “Essentialism” by Greg McK
eown, and although it's a book on leadership,
it addresses the challenge most fathers face now: prioritizing time with family, having healthy boundaries around work, and giving up trying to do it all or be everything to everybody.
Making time. Being present. Teaching and modeling. Communicating. Self-care. Availability and vulnerability.
All of these are vital parts of the fatherhood picture.