“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” ~Theodore Hesburgh
My parents are all-in parents. At thirty-something years old, I know that right now I can call them wherever whenever and they’ll be there for me. I would also do the same for them. I know that everyone doesn’t have this experience so the thought of that style of parenting can be daunting. I know, because it was daunting for me as I considered the possibility of becoming a mother.
A year or two ago, I announced to my friends that I might want to have children. They all had the same reaction. They each were surprised by my sudden change of heart, but then all described me as “extremely nurturing” so to them it made perfect sense. A part of my hesitation has paradoxically been the fact that I had great parents. I felt that their model of all-in parenting was a tough one to live up to. Now, my views are evolving.
While my parents were as great with us as they could be, their marital problems were a large, looming shadow. The most challenging part for us as kids was that no one communicated with us about what was happening. Their lack of communication meant that I had to learn conflict resolution and basic interpersonal communication skills as an adult, from scratch. After all, people can only teach what they know.
Our kids will be at a distinct advantage. How do I know? Their advantage will be that I pride myself on being communicative, patient, compassionate, empathetic, giving, open and silly at times. You, beloved father of my future child, are strong, wise, courageous, funny, generous and responsible. You can be pretty silly too. That’s why I chose you. Where I am weak you are strong and vice versa. Together we will teach our children to be a stand-up individuals with great self-esteem.
Our relationship will be the foundation for who these people become. Experts now realize that in order to raise happy kids it’s most important for parents to put their marriage first. Dr. Laura Berman writes in “The Book of Love” that although it seems sacrilegious, “you need to put your relationship before your children. A strong relationship provides security for your children and demonstrates how a loving, respectful partnership should be.”
Daughters learn from their fathers what to expect from men. Sons learn from their fathers how to be men. The mom is the glue of the family. To that end, there are some embarrassing things about my youth that you should know. I was a funny-looking kid until blossoming at age 15. I am fairly obsessed with ancient mythology, fantasies and fairy tales. My family’s favorite film is “The Sound Of Music.” We’ve seen it hundreds of times and even attended a live sing-along. Yes, we were the only black family there.
These odd, geeky bits will figure into who these probable, hypothetical blessings of ours become. I look forward to letting them have the freedom to become who they are meant to be. I promise to resist my natural instinct to hover and to allow them to fall and get back up on their own.
As for you and I, my darling partner, remember in “Wall Street” when Michael Douglas said, “ABC, Always Be Closing?” I say ABD, let’s always be dating.
With all my heart, the future mother of your child.
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