Just a few months ago, some of you observed Lent by denying yourself something for a given time, whether it was a certain food or something else you normally do. The discipline of fasting is similar—usually done for spiritual or health reasons—where someone goes without food for a day or two, maybe longer. Some families declare a one-day fast from media as a change of pace.
There are numerous benefits, and one of them is clarity. You miss the thing you’ve given up and possibly gain a new awareness of the role it has played in your life, or maybe how much you’ve come to depend on that thing.
Little did we know that, right as Lent was ending, our lives were changed by the COVID-19 pandemic and a new kind of self-denial was forced upon us as many habits and routines were drastically changed. This pandemic has brought on great difficulties and loss for some, and that shouldn’t be minimized. But the challenge for many of us is to find the good that can come out of this.
Some sectors of society are re-starting, but we know that “normal” won’t be the same going forward. And that can be a good thing. Each of us has an opportunity to learn and grow because the past several months have brought some needed clarity in certain areas.
That includes our fathering. Every dad should be asking himself …
What am I supposed to learn because of this? What adjustments can I make that will help me succeed with my kids once our daily routines become more “normal”?
Here’s another approach: Imagine there’s an all-powerful being who wants what’s best for your family and who has a message for you about your fathering—specifically, how you need to grow as a dad. What would he tell you? And what if he has tried to communicate this message to you for months or years, but you haven’t been listening or you’ve been too busy or distracted or stubborn to really hear it? Maybe he would arrange for several months of at-home quarantine to get your attention and help you gain clarity about your role as a dad.
(Note: The above is just a “what if” scenario. Some will find the all-powerful being in this exercise helpful, but if you’re skeptical or offended, no worries. It’s highly unlikely that the pandemic was supernaturally orchestrated to communicate messages to dads. Still, we would all be wise to view it as an opportunity to reflect on our fathering and make positive changes.)
Here are some of the possible messages today’s dads might receive during the quarantine:
- Slow down.
- Spend more time with your children and family.
- Get to know your neighbors better.
- Be more involved in your children’s education.
- Do more preparing and eating meals together as a family.
- Get to know your spouse better.
- Watch less sports on TV and find better ways to invest that time.
- Help your family be thankful for: medical professionals, trash service, churches, restaurants, concerts, etc.
- Do more fun things with your kids like playing games, practicing sports, going on walks, making silly videos, etc.
Aren’t those all good things? Some adjustments we could all make as fathers?
How has the 2020 quarantine affected you? What message are you getting? How are you being prompted to change or improve as a father?