Fatherhood and the New Pursuit
Has fatherhood changed over the past generation? Do today’s dads have an easier or more difficult role and set of responsibilities than just a couple generations ago? Does the world we are living in now create a backdrop for parenting unlike no other in recent memory?
I have been a father for nine years now — about a quarter of my life. My three children (ages 9, 7 and 3) have changed me in so many ways — instilling confidence, expanding my horizons, and pushing me to look inward. Some days you get a gold star for stellar parenting, some days you don’t. But I think it’s about the trend line more than tracking the day-to-day ups and downs.
Still, I feel compelled to up the ante when it comes to teaching them lessons that will allow them to grow and prosper in a world so fraught with change and challenge. All those things that have come to define my ‘new pursuit’ — simple living, mindfulness of the moment, deep connections with the natural world, helping to foster community — need to be (in my opinion, at least) woven into the fabric of their lives.
Why? Because they (and all children around the world) are inheriting a boat-load of problems across the environmental, social, political, and economic fronts. On the flipside, that also means they will have a boat-load of opportunities to create and drive change both big and small. I feel it’s my responsibility to give them the information, tools and know-how to prosper within what Thomas Berry calls the Earth Community.
What kinds of things am I talking about? Things your run-of-the-mill textbooks and school curriculum don’t necessarily cover all that well:
- Respect and appreciation of all life
- Deep sense of connection with the natural world and the interbeing that pervades it
- Relationship building
- Compassion and the willingness to lend a hand
- Self-sufficiency (growing food, using tools, building basics, repairing)
- Thrift and a healthy relationship with money
- Putting more value in experiences than stuff
- The joy of the moment
- Patience and mindfulness (things I continue to work on every day too)
- Deep gratitude
And how does one go about doing this? By putting words into action; living the life you want to model for your kids so they can witness first hand what it looks and feels like. Will it always be easy? No, of course not. But therein lies the beauty of it: They can experience just what the ‘waves’ of life look like, learn how to ride them out, and grow as a person through it all.
One day at a time. One experience at a time. One moment at a time.
What lessons are you trying to teach the children in your life?
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