In this installment of our weekly Sunday Six conversation, PF Whalen and Parker Beauregard of The Blue State Conservative reflect on Father’s Day and their roles as fathers as they discuss six observations regarding fatherhood.
#6: Fathers are quite frequently taken for granted, and that’s okay.
PF: To support this point, I would cite Father’s Day itself as evidence. While Mother’s Day generally comes with much more hype and pomp, celebrating Father’s Day is barely a celebration at all. In my experience as both a father and a son, it generally consists of a greeting card or two in the morning, a modest gift such as a shirt or a coffee mug, a short trip to Mass, and a relatively routine remainder of the day. Yet to me, not only is this phenomenon non-problematic, I view it as a good thing.
Fathers have different relationships with their children than mothers do. In today’s woke culture, such a statement is heresy, but it’s true, and we can see it right from the beginning; at the time a child is born. The relationships between mothers and children are simply magical. Whether viewed through the lens of the human experience or even in animals, there’s nothing quite like motherhood. But fathers also play an extremely important role in children’s lives; we’re critical.
That nonchalance regarding dads, the fact that our kids and perhaps even their mothers may often appear to take us for granted, is a key indicator for me of a healthy family life. If our value as fathers is assumed as a given, and if what we do is merely an afterthought, that attitude shows stability, and stability is a very good thing. If our families know they can depend on us, so much so that their dependency evades their consciousness thereby taking us for granted, it means they feel secure and stable, and it means they can focus on their own lives and development.
For those who no longer are married to or live with their children’s mother, that stability is a far greater challenge, but it’s still attainable. You may spend less time with your kids than a married father, but that constancy can still be achieved, and the same can be said for stepfathers.
#5: It takes both a marriage and a child to fully mature a man.
Parker: I vaguely remember a time when I was single and living alone. I did what I wanted and when I wanted to do it. Conversely, I didn’t have to do anything. Whether I did something or not was unimportant to people around me, and they could generally care less anyways. The bachelor lifestyle is fun at the moment, but it is ultimately meaningless. If no one cares or is impacted by what you do or don’t do, that generally summarizes emptiness and meaninglessness.
Marriage takes manning up to the next level. There are those that suggest a serious relationship which includes cohabitation is the same thing as religious vows and legal commitments. Malarkey. Equating roommate status to marriage is akin to equating babysitting to child rearing. It isn’t a thing. The process of marriage takes an able man to a mature man through its ordeals, demands, and rewards. Marriage requires the release of selfish pursuits to those of shared pursuits. It requires honoring others’ schedules and needs. These are not bad things, by the way; it eliminates tendencies toward narcissism by forcing an individual to think about more than just themselves.
Fatherhood makes the demands of marriage look like child’s play once more. I still made tee times as a married man and still had evenings out with friends. I traveled when able with my wife to exotic destinations. That, shall we say, has changed drastically. We currently have an infant daughter, who if we look away for more than two seconds either crams a potentially dangerous object into her mouth (or eyes) or wiggles into undesirable places in her insatiable quests to discover the world around her. It’s at once exhausting and awe-inspiring. Despite the restless nights, constant supervision, playtime, and emotional output, it is impossible to want to do anything else with my time. Those activities of yesteryear were fun while they happened, but nothing is as rewarding as watching your own child grow up right before your eyes.
When she crawls to Dad in search of comfort, that’s about as good as it gets.
#4: From the beginning of the process, fatherhood triggers our paternal instincts.
PF: Much is made of a woman’s maternal instincts emerging during and after one’s pregnancy and rightfully so, but in my experience there are also strong paternal instincts which manifest themselves during these periods. One description of this singularity calls out three specific instincts in what has been referred to as the “3 P’s of Manhood.” Provide, Procreate, and Protect. There may be others which are less prominent, but for me this depiction nails it.
Prior to our children’s births, these instincts were always there for me, I believe, but from the moment my wife became pregnant they became much stronger. I must thoroughly provide for my family. I must ensure that not only do we have children, but those children must thrive. And I must protect my wife and children at all costs. These were impulses that were as natural for me as thirst and hunger.
It is the third “P” which, for me, was/is the most intense: Protect. The mere idea of anyone trying to cause harm to my family triggers a powerful reflex, particularly when considering infants, and it is this compulsion which drives my passionate opposition to abortion. From the moment we knew my wife was pregnant, the knowledge that our child was growing in her womb was transformative, and the prospect of someone destroying our baby via abortion was repulsive; hideous.
Childbirth is miraculous, truly. For anyone who has never had the honor of experiencing it, even from the perspective of a father, words cannot adequately describe the emotions one feels. From feeling the baby kick while lying next to my wife, to seeing my child through ultrasound technology during my wife’s check-ups, to that moment of hearing our baby cry for the first time. Having children is an amazement. To think that in certain parts of the world, and indeed in our country, it is legal and even encouraged to kill that baby by aborting it at any point during a woman’s pregnancy is horrifying. It is unimaginable to me how anyone could be pro-abortion.
#3: We are reminded there is a bigger purpose for all of us.
Parker: On any given day, the single greatest thing I can do is provide physical safety, emotional comfort, and playful interactions with my daughter. These components lead to her proper development, but they also offer me a reflection on the important things in life. Raising a healthy person who will eventually gain independence and a contributory role in society is beneficial for both our immediate family and our larger community as a whole. If I go to bed having fulfilled each of these tasks, I can rest easy knowing I made a difference.
Prior to kiddo, little I did or accomplished would be construed as rich and deep. Days were filled with tasks and excitement, but were they meaningful tasks and excitement? More likely than not, they were mere ephemeral pleasures. It’s a fun way to pass a day or week, but not a year or a lifetime. Becoming a father has provided the ultimate sense of both purpose and meaning. There is a certain sacrifice to previous propensities, and yet any longing for their absence is quickly erased with the smile or laughter of a child.
Now, this is not to say that fatherless men cannot make a difference. They certainly can. However, as we idealize what is best for the majority of men in American society, it is hardly arguable that there is a standard to which we should all aspire.
#2: The experience of fatherhood accentuates the role of God in our lives.
PF: There’s an old saying regarding soldiers fighting for their lives in battle – “There’s no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole.” I didn’t serve in our military, and I have the utmost respect and appreciation for those who did – particularly those who saw combat – so I can only imagine what that experience is like. It seems to be a no-brainer that anyone in combat would be looking to a higher power for intervention. It’s similarly inconceivable how anyone who has witnessed childbirth could continue denying the existence of a Higher Power, of a Creator. If ever there was evidence of God in our lives, holding a newborn in our arms is it.
Regardless of one’s religious beliefs (Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, whatever), those beliefs are far more plausible than those of an atheist. The notion that this – the universe and everything that comprises it – is an accident, just a big coincidence, is utterly absurd. And the marvel of childbirth is Exhibit A in the case against atheism.
First and foremost, having children is a blessing. God has deemed us worthy of the responsibility of caring for one of His wonders, and not everyone is fortunate enough to receive such a blessing. I would argue that everyone, regardless of whether you have children, is obligated to embrace God’s participation in their lives. But having children escalates that obligation. Prayer is powerful and acknowledging God’s gifts to us through prayer and worship becomes that much more critical when we have families depending on us.
#1: It reinforces the idea of abortion’s murderous evil.
Parker: You and I stayed above the political fray pretty well for this piece. Rightfully so, I might add. It is Father’s Day, after all, and there is so much more to life than political observations and analyses. However, I couldn’t help but reflect on one of my passing thoughts during our first few days in the hospital. After running through the gamut of wondering about my preparedness, the shock and excitement of the moment arriving, the surprising lulls between early contractions and nonchalance of the childbirth process (I finally understood how people can play cribbage right up until delivery), and prayers for the protection of both mother and child in the final moments, I admit that the topic of abortion floated into my consciousness as well.
I often hear millennial parents call their children little humans, which can be added to the list of stupid stuff millennials say and do, but there is some truth to the statement. I remember holding my new baby for the first time. My baby girl was a perfect human, albeit in miniature. I stared in awe at her tiny toes and fingers, watched her little chest rise and fall with each tiny breath, and when she opened her little eyes I knew I was looking into a person who already had hopes, dreams, curiosities, personality, and unique traits. An hour ago, she had all those same features, but because she was a bump on my wife’s belly this would somehow negate every miraculous feature of my child? It would preclude her from being considered a person?
The absurdity of denying an infant’s humanity simply because it is encased in the mother’s protective womb is about the dumbest and most immoral position to take on abortion. This is saying a lot, because every position the left has on abortion is flat-out wrong and immoral. I looked at my child, and became sick to my stomach trying to fathom how this sweet, innocent, feeling, and sentient being would be subjected to the chemical and physical dismemberment required to terminate a pregnancy. It is too much to even think about for more than a second. There are many areas in which political differences can be debated to achieve a compromise. On the issue of abortion, however, there is no middle ground. There is murder or there is no murder.
And on that happy note, Happy Father’s Day, everyone!