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Being “Father”

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This afternoon’s session with “The Dads” took an unexpected turn.  For the first time since we started, they started telling stories about their past as sons and their experiences in fatherhood.  The discussions were provoked by a comment one of them made:  “There are parents who do not seem to bring up their children as they should be brought up.”  The comment came from a reading of Proverbs 3:1 and following.  But it had to be challenged so I asked:  “How do you think are parents not bringing up their children as they should be brought up?”  So the others began expressing their reactions.

I cannot remember the details of the discussions but here are the ideas that came up:

1.  Parents normally want their children to grow up successful, so they bring them up according to principles that appear to them as the best;
2.  Parents being human, however, have their own agenda that sometimes come into conflict with their parenting.  It is these agenda that intrude into the way they relate to their children (e.g., “Daddy has to play golf on Saturdays, so he cannot come to Junior’s basketball game”).
3. Most Catholic parents don’t think of religion as part of family life.  This fact introduces a “split” in the way even religion is looked upon by their children. 
4. Where parents are seen in a bad light (or when the presence of parents was minimal or nil), the children, when they become parents in their turn, adopt parenting ways that are not meant to  reflect anything that they have experienced from their own parents. 

There was one idea that some of the Dads brought up which I tried to resist:  that the children can also think by themselves independently of their parents.  While I can admit to that, the idea would somehow excuse parents from doing their jobs.  Children can grow up well independently of their own parents, but that is not the normal process.  Children normally are formed within the atmosphere of a home where there is a mother and a father who perform their roles no matter how imperfect they may be.  Sadly, however, there are some parents who have chosen to cop out of their duties because of a feeling of inadequacy rather than sticking with their parenting roles and doing the best they can.

On the whole, this afternoon’s session was quite interesting.  Before we left, one of the Dads suggested that next time we should also talk about the conflicts that the parents have within themselves.  I think that what he means is the tension that parents feel within the area of “Individuality and Community.”  Some parents feel the pull of their own dreams and aspirations vis-a-vis their job at home.  Remember that Sally Fields movie where her character wants to be a comedienne despite the protests of her husband who wants her as wife and mother?  Now that is another interesting topic to talk about.

Originally posted 2005-05-21 20:27:27. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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