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The Subjective Experience of Being a Father


What does it mean to be a father? How do I “be” a father? What does a father “do?”
What is important is what being a father means to you as a father. To me, with a part Norwegian heritage, something more permanent than becoming a Marine, I like to tease and joke with my children. I get the better part of the relationship, though. They have a funnier sense of humor than I do. But they know their father cares and interacts with them, and sometimes they even laugh at my jokes and teasing.

Of course being a father is more than just horsing around. We go to work daily, if we can, in order to support our wives and children. Then we get to practice being patient, attentive, and loving to our family members, whether we feel like it or not. Notice the mention of “practice.” Being and doing, however defined, always imply and require practice.

So, using the family traits, I get to humorously, patiently, and diligently work with my family members to take care of them. It doesn’t always work that way, though, not when you’ve had an exhausting time, forced yourself to get up, then have something electromechanical or somehow related to the plumbing break down while you are trying to wash the dishes and figure out how to feed the hungriest child of four. So how do we cope? Stephen R. Covey discusses how to “sharpen the saw,” and that’s nearly always a good idea. Exercises like yoga, running, or moving heavy things around (ask your wife how she would like something arranged and encourage her to be creative about it) relieve stress and put things into perspective. Finding ways to work with children in a friendly way helps, too. Don’t try to get them to help you when you feel desperate!