Fatherhood is a commitment. Raising boys to become independent men who add value to this world? That’s the task at hand? Gulp. Right now there are some days I struggle to make sure they’re fed and clothed. Nothing in my life has presented such a challenge.
The decision to become a father requires a commitment on many fronts: time, energy, emotion, finances, and love. The primary period of responsibility in fatherhood lasts about 20 years while children are still under your direct care. Only marriage and mortgages appear to last longer.
Children require a continued sacrifice to meet their physical needs of food, shelter, and clothing. While this seems obvious to most, the actual time, energy, and money required to meet the needs of children is astonishing. Our groceries bills have doubled. We spend more time cooking, doing dishes, laundry, and bathing our children. Our house is now bigger which means means a bigger mortgage, higher property taxes, more water, gas, and electricity being consumed as well. Sometimes the time and energy required to meet these primary needs takes everything out of us.
One of the basic responsibilities as a father is to protect your children. Mine are still young so the dangers I face now are obvious but require almost constant attention. Don’t stick your finger in the outlet! Don’t eat the legos! Don’t run in the street! Those are all common phrases I repeat regularly. Sometimes I feel like a broken record, all just to keep my children alive. As they grow older I envision the protection they need will require a more subtle approach to compensate for the decreasing lack of direct control we have as parents.
As a father, I am also responsible for developing my children’s character. I need to educate and coach them, challenge and discipline them, encourage and comfort them. Their character is the area that can take the largest emotional drain and persistence as a father. I feel that I spent at least two years teaching my oldest son to use his manners before it really started to catch on.
Fatherhood is also expensive. In addition to the cost of the basic needs already mentioned, there are costs for education, sports, lessons, toys, books, day care, health insurance, and medical care (did I mention already that I have two boys?). All of those add up to very significant sum of money, even if you maintain a relatively minimal lifestyle. With this financial commitment comes a decrease in financial flexibility, especially if you don’t live below your means.
While all of these responsibilities as a father are important, the most significant one is love. True love for your children will provide you the energy and patience required to deliver on all of your duties. It will direct you to mold their characters to grow into the people that you aspire them to be. It will also allow your children to flourish in life. If you truly you take the responsibility of fatherhood to heart, you cannot leave love out of the equation.
All of these responsibilities are real and require a big commitment, but fortunately they come with an incredible opportunity as well.