Friday, May 22, 2009

the children question again (it never ends)

Despite the number of times I've requested people to stop asking us when we're having children, even formalizing it on my blog, the dialogue continues unabated and therefore I decided to address it through trying to explain my feelings. I don't want my blog to just become a confessional booth, but I've been learning so much and wrestling with so much lately that I feel the need to get it out; plus, I have a small and devoted readership who cares about me and seems to be interested in my life and thoughts.

I started thinking about all the issues (for me) surrounding having children and the struggles I may have as a father. How do you protect your children? It seems that they're growing up faster and faster, being exposed to more 'adult' things at a younger age, and becoming increasingly more sexualized through the media--it literally sickens me. How do I cope with that? Is there any way to shield a child from this stuff? I think of the world that my little nine month old nephew is growing up into and it terrifies me, mostly due to the variety of heartbreaking situations I've seen/heard of through all my work with children and teens over the past 15 years. Kids have to deal with so much more crap than I had to when I was a child--it boggles my mind, honestly. Funnily enough, with so many of my closest friends having recently had or about to have children, you would think that it would make me eager to jump in there as well...but it hasn't. Not really at all. In saying this, I am not hinting that Caitlin and I are not going to have children, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't constantly haunted by doubts, fears, frustrations, and a lot of sadness as a result of the dangers I now know are out there.

Another fear with having children has to do with what kind of father I am going to be. I have friends my age who are incredibly patient, easygoing guys and they are great fathers. The problem is, I am neither particularly patient nor overly easygoing and I live live a life of what I feel is perpetual frustration. Granted, this worries me less as I grow older and with the parents I've seen through my years of work, I am beginning to think that I look downright normal and grounded! I also would like to have a permanent full time job before we consider taking this step.

Maybe this will put to rest the "when are Matt and Caitlin going to have kids" questions for awhile, though I somehow doubt it...


Peter Tyrrell said...

I struggled with the idea of having children in the past myself, and in fact came up with pretty much the same litany of fears and doubts that you have.

One thing you don't realize before having children is that the experience itself opens up a door into a part of yourself you didn't even know was there. You simply can't comprehend it before the door opens. I guarantee to you that you will find this new part of yourself a huge source of competence, strength, and steadfast love, and marvel at it. The fears you describe just melt away when you see the face of your child looking up at you for the first time.

The only fear worth holding on to is the one about a permanent full time job. Men get their sense of worth through their ability to provide, right? That intensifies when a baby comes.


Davidjp said...

The sheer passion you show in talking about what's wrong with society shows just how great a father you would be.

That's what I think!