I’m a new dad. My son is about a year and a half old, the first grandson to join our crazy family. We’re expecting our second child, a baby girl, this October. Though it’s been an exciting time, full of joy and love, there has been an inescapable thought lingering in the back of my mind since the beginning.
“I cannot be my dad.”
I’ll spare you the details, but the basic story is that my dad was not present during my childhood (and still isn’t). I learned to shave by watching YouTube videos, I learned to drive with my fiancée, I’ve never gone fishing, etc. I’ll never forget calling one of our church’s quintessential super-dads on the phone to have him walk me through getting my propane tank working for the first time -- classic dad-splaining.
Whether directly or indirectly, so many aspects of my life have been affected by growing up fatherless. Right now, the result is that I’m questioning my ability to be a good parent.
Throughout the day, I am constantly thinking about my behavior and how it could be perceived by my son, who incessantly reminds me that everything I do will be imitated by him. Will my son think back on his childhood and say “my dad was always there for me?” Will he be equipped to be a leader in his community, a great husband, a hard worker? Am I raising a future awesome dad?
Fatherlessness is a big deal. The research shows that a fatherless home is four times more likely to experience poverty, twice as likely to drop out of high school, and seven times more likely to see teen pregnancy. Even health issues, like obesity and substance abuse, are heavily impacted by whether or not a dad is present at home.
The Bible is full of examples of how father-son relationships affect entire generations, sometimes for thousands of years. One could argue that the entire basis of Biblical covenants are about how we handle the next generation. In other words, this stuff is important.
But how am I supposed to do this dad thing with no training? Doubling down on the fatherlessness in my new little growing family, my wife lost her dad very early in her childhood and barely remembers him. We’ve both essentially been raised by single moms. The bottom line is we have zero reference for what a dad is supposed to do.
The stakes are high, and the chances of getting this right seem slim… but there’s hope.
It’s easy to assume that I’ll end up doing the same thing my dad did. Generational cycles are real, and creating a new familial culture and habits is extremely difficult, but I’m here to tell you that God has something different in store for my family and for yours too. Breaking these cycles is what turning one’s life over to the Lord is all about.
The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them. - Ezekiel 18:20
The reality is that because of my new life in Christ, I am not a product of how I was raised.
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. - 2 Corinthians 5:17
I’m a firm believer that God placed us on this earth to show off His ability to make something out of nothing. That’s why I have no doubt that God is creating an abundant supply of love and fatherhood skills especially for me. And with His help, I’ll only improve as my son grows. But, maybe not as fast as him, this kid is growing like a weed.
First thing’s first. I’m going to YouTube to learn how to use a fishing rod.