Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Some Thoughts on Parenting, Part 2

In my last post I made much ado about my "empty nest." I complained about the woes of working hard for 18 years and then it all just goes off to college. Several people have commented on what the future might look like for me. Others have reminisced about the past. You have caused me to think further on my plight as a "childless" father.

What follows, then, is some further reflections on being a parent. Although I seem to be expanding my definition of fatherhood. I am seeing fatherhood in terms of my own child who has gone off to college, and other young (and not so young) people to whom I serve as a surrogate, or at least a spiritual, father.
  • Parenting never stops. My mother has been trying to tell me this for years. She said, "Your little grow will grow up, but you will always be her dad. I have no question about that. She's been gone two weeks and I have already received three "send money" phone calls. I know that our relationship will change and grow, but she is not rid of me yet.
  • I now know how my parents felt (and feel). At various times during the last 30 years I thought my parents were crazy, weird, annoying and aggravating. Now I am starting to understand. They love me and want to be sure that I am alright. That's how I feel about my child. I just hope I can survive her thinking that I am crazy, weird, annoying and aggravating. One good thing is that I have always known Mom and Dad loved me. I hope my daughter always knows and remembers that.
  • Being a parent to others. I have always had a special relationship to young people. In any group there will be two or three kids who "get" me. They understand what I stand for and what I am trying to do with my life. For a few of these I have become a parent. To many others I feel very paternal. In fact, right now I am trying to be "Dad" to one young man in Africa. (He even calls me Dad.) I am finding joy and a release in this new kind of parenting.

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