Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Dad Part

1. If there's one thing I know about being a dad it's worry. Sounds like a mom thing, perhaps? Not in my experience. My dad worried about us, and I worry about them. I worry whether I am raising them well. You see them developing negative tendencies, and, gosh, you think, how can I help this? Maybe a mom says, "This is all my fault!" But I say, "How do I solve this?" My worries: their moral life and their physical health. Poor little Stephen I going through what all two-year-olds must endure: immunology, that is, developing his immune responses to the myriad hostile pathogens that dominate this planet. There is no escape, only delay. He has the flu, likely (hopefully) a flu we've all had. But the moral drain of worrying about a little one is so depressing. I may move to Arizona yet where they have no flu season.

Please say a prayer for this sick little guy.
Help him to feel better.
2. The book, the television show, the friend. Influences, channels of experience. You can't control these, only moderate them. There is no virtue without experience of motive forces working against that virtue. The second thing I know about being a dad is that time is everything: the more time you spend with them, whether it's quality time fishing, or perfunctory grocery shopping, your disciples with only be your disciples if they "come and see" (Jn  1:46) how you live. The mistake is to think you are raising them well only when, and only when, they are away from you. Quite the opposite is the case. Piano lessons, karate, swimming - these are all good and even important things for your children to do, but they ought in no way take priority over the simple necessity of walking in your shoes. I don't think this requires a special kind of operation. I am just living in wonder mixed with admiration about the new kind of people I am encountering here in Barry's Bay. People who hunt and fish and hang dead carcasses in their garages. I am an extremely well educated person who, hence, over thinks everything he does. But I have a feeling that the people who hunt, fish, and carve up hanging meat spend more time with their kids than those who do not. It's not elegant, but it may be the one thing necessary.

3. Prayer. Pray for your kids and then let God work out the rest. Reason does not tell me that my kids are more beloved of God than anyone else's, but reason likewise tells me that God loves them even more than I do. I have to hand them over to God.

4. Loving your wife (spouse). It's not always easy, but if you love your kids, you cannot do so without loving your wife. This is something I was very slow to learn. Kids are loved unconditionally; adults usually conditionally. I would imagine older children fit somewhere in between - but I have no idea. This is descriptive, but it is imperative to love your wife and children both unconditionally. That simply means to love them when you no longer want to. You must make yourself want to. Genetically it makes little sense, spiritually, none at all, to love your children but not to love the woman who is more like them than anyone else in the world but you. If you love your children and want them to be happy and healthy you must love your wife. She is, with you, the single strongest cause of their happiness and healthiness. If I am looking for ways to help my children, and am at a loss what to do, I love my wife.

* Update on Stevo: thank you for the prayers. He is pretty much all better now. God is gentle and good.

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