I have been challenged mentally and spiritually lately by what it means to be a Father and the absolute chaos and joy it brings to the existence of so many men around the world. I’ve been a father for the last 11 years and I can say emphatically that I have no idea what I’m doing. I feel as though every step I take and every decision I lay down for my daughters is purely from my gut. I then spend time agonizing over what implications for the future one wrong step might take.
I am greatly relieved that although my daughters were aware and vibrant on a day-to-day basis, they do not remember clearly my earliest stages of being a father. Their long-term memory until they were around 4 or 5 was satisfyingly stinted. I’m embarrassed to say how embarrassed I would be if some of my earliest parental fumbles were recorded in anyone else’s memory other than my wife’s.
There are many moments when I desperately want to call and gain advice from my father but then realize that the time it would take to give him context on the “techy” issue I’m having would be more frustrating than the relief he may offer with his advice. For example, my eldest daughter is extremely artistic and tech oriented. In a judgment call I knew I might regret, we purchased her an iPhone at the age of 9 during a scary event that took my wife to the hospital for an extended stay. The phone was intended to be for communication. Of course my daughter took everything else it had to offer and ran with it. Suffice it to say she is quickly catching up with my tech prowess and will pass me with speed in the near future. It seems that each decision on which app I’ll allow her to use carries the consideration of eternal consequences. Will playing Minecraft, a game with “ironic” low resolution and blocky characters, lead to some later obsession with gaming. Could Animal Jam, a National Geographic animal kids game, be the gateway game to the evil of my generation, Dungeons and Dragons.
My obsessions as a kid were very much in the same vein, but only much less technologically assisted. I know that censorship for a mind like mine only leads to an obsessive search for an alternative and covert route to satisfying my desire. When I found a kid in my neighborhood whose parents obsessively and illegally copied every VHS movie they could get their hands on, you would find me fending off requests to play so that I could watch the very movies my parents would definitely disapprove of. My intention with my daughters is hopefully to create an open dialogue and a directed and wholesomely supervised approach to what she and I share so much talent for.
I’ve become painfully aware that because of our unique talents and qualities there is only one Father who can adequately direct my daughters and me through this digital maze. I pray every day that He guides my decisions and my parenting because He knows what’s coming next. He even knows what the next updates will be to the Apple iPhone 7!