To the Fathers in Zion

Fathers’ Day is this Sunday, and I’m wondering where the bloggernacle fathers are. Scriptures and our prophets tell us that children and family life are pretty much the main reasons why we’re here on this earth. And in case there was any doubt on the matter, the great LDS prophet David O. McKay said in an oft-repeated quote: “no other success can compensate for failure in the home”.

Since children and family life are so important, why don’t we hear more from the men in the bloggernacle about their family lives? Perhaps these are some reasons for the relative silence:

1. My family life is personal, and I choose not to share my personal life with an internet audience.

2. My children do not make interesting subjects for blogging.

3. My wife blogs about the children, and I don’t have anything to add.

4. I don’t have children.

5. Other (Please explain. Attach additional pages if necessary).

A new visitor to the bloggernacle might wonder why the LDS blogs are so segregated – why women don’t generally participate in the discussions at Times and Seasons, By Common Consent, and Millennial Star – and why men don’t chime in with their funny, sad, frustrating family experiences at Mormon Mommy Wars, Feminist Mormon Housewives, and Tales from the Crib.

I’m sure this gender divide reflects the structure of the outside blogosphere, but I have expected to hear more from Mormon fathers about their children, since Mormons value family life so highly.

In any event, I for one would like to hear more from the bloggernacle fathers about how having children has changed them (for the better or worse), and generally how they juggle the demands of working, nurturing their family, and maintaining their sanity.

I hope each of you have a wonderful Father’s Day.

Comments

  1. Aaron Brown says:

    In my case, no kids yet. But that will change in August. I’m actually about to post about this. Stay tuned.

    Aaron B

  2. Steve Evans says:

    Stay tuned indeed.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    When I decided to enter the law for my profession, I don’t think I really understood the demands on my time that would entail. I just assumed lawyers worked 9 to 5 like everyone else.

    I practice in an area (public finance) that, while intellectually demanding and rewarding, is also relatively civil in terms of its time demands (I suppose from working closely with government officials). To some extent this was a fluke of my first job out of law school, but it also enabled me to have the kind of family life Mormons value, and which I value greatly.

    In some ways I probably have artificially limited myself professionally so as to preserve this sacred space for family involvement, but to me the sacrifice was minor and one I would gladly make over again.

  4. Hmm…I have mentioned my family in a few posts, however, these are mostly obtuse or ancillary references. I experience fatherhood and my relationship with my wife…it isn’t something that I feel the need to analyze or discuss in open fora.

  5. I am a father. My daughter was just born five weeks ago, and this will be my first official fathers day. :)

    I don’t speak much about my family, but I do have a blog separate from my blog on politics and religion which I promote and write in more frequently. My blog on my family is The Life of Nicolae Padigone. I tend not to get too personal on the web mainly because I just don’t trust this world today. We sometimes forget that a blog is available for all the world to see, every single person on the planet who is sitting in front of a computer can see what you type.

    My family is my number one priority in life. I love my wife and I love my daughter. Both melt my heart and are my joy. That’s about as personal as I’ll get on the Internet. :)

  6. I post on Our Thoughts about my children.

  7. Elizabeth – I’m a grandfather. I have four sons, some are older than most of you bloggers. I would love to share some stories about my sons and my grandchildren but worry that you might be bored with what I have to say. I tend to keep my relationship with my wife private. But I’ll try to share more from now on.

  8. See, no wonder we don’t know anything about Mother in Heaven. No man likes to talk about his family.

  9. Oh, that quote: “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” Isn’t this just one more true, but irrelevant cliche regarding family life? I can’t count how many people I’ve heard say, “Nobody wishes on their death bed that they’d spent more time at the office.” Maybe so, but I’m sure there are plenty of old people who wish they could have provided better for their family, which amounts to the same thing. McKay’s quote may be true, but only because of how success and failure (as such) are localized. Ask your auto insurance company if any amount of success will compensate for a consistently bad driving record.

    The role of a man in society is to be disposable. As a consequence, men talk about disposable things. That’s all.

    Besides, I talk about my wife all the time on the bloggernacle. She’s one hot babe.

  10. I think one reason for the dearth of comments about Mormon fatherhood is that the permabloggers on M*/BCC/T&S don’t tend to post discussion topics that give the opportunity. There are a few notable, enjoyable exceptions, but it seems to me that permabloggers (and guests) on these blogs tend to focus more on doctrine or history or “issues”. I’d love to see more posts that allow for discussion of Mormon fatherhood.

    Given the character of these blogs, maybe it doesn’t make sense to have a discussion where Fathers share horror stories about diaper changing catastrophies or potty-training angst. But I suspect there are questions, topics, and even “issues” that relate to the things that Mormon fathers wrestle with that would be great fodder for discussion.

    I’m not a father, but I hope to be someday. I’d love to explore some of these questions and issues or, at least, lurk as others more experienced do the exploring.

  11. rleonard says:

    I have 4 kids. They are lots of fun and even more work.

    Mormon men typically talk very little about their struggles/trials/joys with Children. Maybe we should. I get the sense that E thinks we should.

    I would also be interested to see a family size breakdown of the perma-bloggers here at BCC. Might be illuminating

  12. I never talk about my family (wife, 3+1/2 kids) because I didn’t think anyone cared. Besides, I come to the bloggernackle to discuss things I normally can’t discuss with other people I know; intellectual stimuli is sadly lacking in the Mormon circles around here.

  13. I have no kids; I have no fatherhood stories to share. Sad but true. However, I’ve discussed my childlessness online; does that count?

  14. Mark IV says:

    …how they juggle the demands of working, nurturing their family, and maintaining their sanity.

    Sorry Elisabeth, you’ve got it wrong. Nurturing is my wife’s job. She is just naturally so much better at it. I just work, and try to maintain what’s left of my sanity. :-)

    My vote goes to your chouce # 1. Also, Travis has a point about the general nature of the posts at the Big Three blogs.

  15. rleonard says:

    #1 and since my wife is a SAHm she does the majority of the nurturing.

  16. Ahem. See here.

  17. Seth R. says:

    The one time I did share some of my family life online, my wife’s parenting style was attacked.

    I’ve never explicitly mentioned my family, by name, ever since.

    I don’t care if you want to rip me apart online. I came here to play, and I have to accept the results. And I often deserve it. But my wife and daughters are a different story.

  18. What a perfect provocation for a personal tirade!

    …how having children has changed them

    Indications of how children changed fathers are always there, and are usually just as obvious as the signs of the motherhood dynamic. Women generally cannot see them, or do not care to acknowledge them.

    I speak as a divorced, former father. Because of my own cynicism I find it doubtful that women are really interested in fatherhood stories at all. I suspect that they really just want fathers to tell motherhood stories.

    In my experience, men have far less of a proprietary sense with regard to children. To a mother, her children are status objects very much like property. Our social and legal system ratify this proprietary interest. Even among church members we hear of divorced familes, “The children follow the mother”. (Whatever they think that means.)

    …how they juggle the demands of working

    (Laughing…) Amazingly, this is one the mothers seldom comprehend, not even “single” mothers working full time. For fathers, children and families _are_ the demands of working. As a former father and single man I don’t feel the same obligation to perform and compete at work or anywhere else. The family is the strongest motivating force for fathers.

    Working is not a juggling act. It is a crushing, overpowering everpresent insatiable demand that we impose upon ourselves, through endless reinforcements and social conditioning.

    …nurturing their family

    Nurturing doesn’t really belong on the fatherhood list, does it? Since the term is basically synoymous with motherhood, it doesn’t apply.

    I’m not just cynical about this observation. Motherhood has its own set of expectations that constitute a holistic definition. Why should the terms of fatherhood be forced into the same definition?

    …and maintaining their sanity

    Again, this is a motherhood cliche. Too many mothers resort to this kind of gratuitous self-aggrandizing hyperbole — “Oh, you should congratulate me, I survived another day with the kids (and my Prozac)!

    When they were part of my stewardship I never asked for or wanted a medal for providing for the children. Even after our relationship was legally terminated I continued to to my best to support them, though they ceased to acknowledge me as a father. Fathers don’t require special recognition just for doing their routinely accepted duties. That seems to be a singular distinguishing factor.

  19. What’s there to say about fatherhood? I’m in favor of it.

  20. I just want to point out that one of the most profound and moving posts on the Bloggernacle, ever, was written by a father about being a father.

    “Happy Birthday, Betsey Pearl.”

  21. CS Eric says:

    Don’t talk about kids because life has left us childless. I’ve talked about that a bit, but not a subject I like to dwell on.

    But if you want to talk about our four destructive little Yorkshire Terriers who are only alive today because they are so damn cute, I’ll play along.

  22. Mark Butler says:

    I suspect we do not hear more about fatherhood because any notion of fatherhood divorced from sentimentality is not politically correct, even in the Church. Fathers have been reduced to backup-mothers – roles pushed of into ecclesiastical administration, but bearing little of spiritual consequence in the life of the family. Homer writ large.

  23. Nurturing doesn’t really belong on the fatherhood list, does it? Since the term is basically synoymous with motherhood, it doesn’t apply.

    So is Heavenly Father “mothering” us? ;)

    Reading this is making me think that our sense of what exactly “fatherhood” entails isn’t all that clear. Which is one reason why I’d be interested in hearing more from fathers about how they understand their role.

  24. I disagree with that notion that family and children are the be all and end all of our existence. In the words of Christ, any heathen will love his own. Christians have to work a lot harder than that.

    The undue emphasis on family is a tragic misunderstanding of contemporary Mormon theology. It distracts us from the real thing.

    Lets return to the Sermon of the Mount and learn about real love.

  25. How would a “Daddy Wars” post go for a traditional father?

    “Today I went to work. It was pretty hectic and there were a lot of demands on my time. Then I came home and tried to see my kids for about 15 minutes before they went to bed. Turns out I was too late and they’d already gone to bed. Had dinner with my wife and tried to do a little with my calling. Then I went to sleep and did it all again the next day.”

    Nobody wants to read that.

  26. You all are kidding about nurturing being just for mothers, right? Right? I just can’t believe I’m reading that. I’m honestly surprised you’re not embarrassed to say it. Unless it’s a joke … but you know, sometimes that’s tough to discern.

    My husband picks up our boys from daycare every day between 4 and 5, takes them home, gives them a snack and makes sure the homework is done before I get home around 5:45 to cook dinner. After I get them well read-to and put in bed, he often goes in and tells them stories about his childhood. The love hearing about what he did when he was their age. On Saturdays he takes them to the park or the lake or the library while I do the grocery shopping.

    Is it really such an anomaly for LDS kids to have a dad who actually spends time with them? Maybe you all need different jobs.

    That said, I’m not sure my husband would post about his daddy activities, if he were a blogger (he isn’t). Maybe I’ll ask him.

  27. Seth R. says:

    Ana,

    No it isn’t.

    When dad’s job hunting, he spends far more time with wife and children than anyone in the house really wants him to.

  28. I’m with Ana on this one. I suspect that Jimbob’s parody of a comment comes strikingly close to describing the lives of many LDS fathers. I think there’s something wrong with that. And I think it’s an issue that LDS men should be talking about.

    Our Church leaders have, in the past, criticized families whose consumption levels push a mother, who might not otherwise want or need to work, into the workplace. I think it is no worse when a family’s consumption levels compel a father to work so much that he’s never around for his children.

    Yet there seems to be an implicit (or maybe even explicit) push for LDS men to become highly paid professionals, climb the corporate ladder, etc. There seems to be a pressure that pushes LDS men to go beyond simply “providing for the family”. I’ve seen this manifest in a couple of ways. As a student at BYU, a young lady friend once asked me, wasn’t it important for me to become financially successful in my career because this was a prerequisite for serving as a Bishop, Stake President, Mission President, etc.? I told her that, while I thought it common for career-successful men to receive these callings, it wasn’t a necessary precondition and there were plenty of counter-examples. She pressed me and said she thought these were the exceptions, not the rule. Whether or not this is actually true (I don’t think it is), it wouldn’t surprise me if this attitude were prevalent in the Church. Also, I sometimes get the sense that there’s a pressure for LDS men to have a successful career because not to do so would be evidence of not reaching your true potential, or slothfulness, or lack of ability to this kind of thing.

    The reality is there are real personal and family costs for climbing the corporate/professional ladder.

    Don’t the teachings of our Church leaders and the principles of the Restored Gospel raise an issue here? Isn’t this something for LDS fathers to talk about?

  29. My family life is personal, and I choose not to share my personal life with an internet audience.

    Interestingly enough, there are huge parts of my personal life that I keep segregated. When I first did the equivilent of modern blogging, long before there were blogs, at http://adrr.com/living/journal.htm I was creating a fence that shared details in order to keep privacy (there is only so much you can do when you are a front page of the newspaper story, sermons are getting preached about you, the staff of the local SAMS prays for you every morning and introduces you when you shop).

    Interesting points.

  30. Elisabeth, I noticed the same absence of exploring fatherhood from a Mormon perspective. I even went so far as to almost start a blog about it. I was going to call it something like Antifeminist Mormon Breadwinners (joking about the name). But then I decided that I’d rather talk about movies and music, so I started a non-serious blog with a buddy instead (and I blog at Kulturblog).

    I don’t want to use too many stereotypes here, but I’m probably going to. It seems that a lot of the motherhood blogging is about comeraderie and validation. It seems that men tend to be pretty sure of themselves (maybe too sure) and their decisions regarding their family and don’t care about validation and don’t care what other people think of their decisions and approach to fatherhood. I know I don’t care. About the comeraderie thing, Mormon men don’t seem to need or have time for nearly as much social interaction outside the family as women do, at least the women who are SAHM’s.

    Ana, I’m one dad who feels a responsibility to help nurture my kids.

  31. Travis: I think it is no worse when a family’s consumption levels compel a father to work so much that he’s never around for his children.

    I think that this shows a fundamental disconnect with what it’s like to work for a living to support a family. Years ago, a friend of mine received a job offer that included a 50% pay increase and would have placed him in an entirely new place in his career. He declined the job, because he didn’t want to move–and it wasn’t that he lived close to family; he just didn’t want to move. He is, of course, single. Very few fathers would make the same decision based on the same priorities. It’s not that there’s a push to earn more, it’s that the father’s identity is defined by his role as a supporter. I can relate to what Jim Cobabe says when he states, “Working is not a juggling act. It is a crushing, overpowering everpresent insatiable demand that we impose upon ourselves, through endless reinforcements and social conditioning.” But I don’t experience it that way. It’s just who I am and what I do in a way that it wasn’t before I had children.

    I think the reason why there seems to be a lot of resentment beneath the surface about this is that Elisabeth is aiming at a kind of patronization toward men that would be immediately recognized as sexist if a man tried to cop the same attitude toward women (imagine a post by Adam Greenwood entitled, “To the Mothers in Zion.”) Whether on not this patronizing is intentional is up to the reader to decide–she’s written the post carefully enough to preserve deniability in any case.

  32. Seth R. says:

    You know …

    You might just spend less time at work, make less money, spend more time at home and

    (gasp!)

    buy a house in a cheaper neighborhood, with a less desirable school!

    I doubt the low quality of the school would make much difference anyway since schools typically make the parents do the teachers’ jobs for them via homework.

    Cheaper house, cheaper car, less income, homeschooling, spend more time with family. Works for me.

  33. Elisabeth says:

    Dan – congratulations on your first Father’s Day!

    Lamonte – thanks. I wondered how many fathers chose not mention their families because they were afraid of boring people. Seems like you’re not alone in this fear – but bloggernacle women have no problem sharing their (not so) boring experiences :)

    Yes, your post absolutely counts, RT/JNS. Thanks very much to you and SV for sharing your experiences with us.

    Ronan – it must be such a chore being so perfect all the time.

    Jims (Cohabe and bob) and others – as Lynnette and Ana ask – I’m curious as to why you think nurturing is a woman’s reponsibility. Is this something you were taught at church, or are you joking around?

    Tom – that’s an insightful observation. Why is it that women seem anxious to discuss their experiences with their children, but men seem more confident, as you say (or less interested?) in discussing family matters with others. I’d love to read a blog like the one you were going to start, though. I used to read a few blogs written by stay at home dads (none of them were Mormon) which were really interesting and entertaining.

  34. Here’s a short item, Feeling Fatherly, that I wrote for Millennial Star several months ago. Enjoy, Elizabeth.

  35. “I think that this shows a fundamental disconnect with what it’s like to work for a living to support a family.”

    DKL, I couldn’t disagree with you more. My whole point is to question what it means to “support a family”. I think the Gospel compels us to define “support” to encompass much, much more than providing material things. Moreover, it’s especially problematic when a father defines “support” to include unnecessary consumer purchases and the like.

    You also write: “It’s not that there’s a push to earn more, it’s that the father’s identity is defined by his role as a supporter.” This may be the case. If so, it’s something I think we as LDS fathers (or fathers-to-be) need to discuss. What *is* our role as fathers? It can’t be enough to just provide the material necessities–as important as that is. And just how much should we strive to provide? How do we balance the need to provide material things with the need to spend time teaching and loving our children?

    “Elisabeth is aiming at a kind of patronization toward men…”

    Give me a break, DKL. This is a topic Elisabeth and I have discussed at length and in earnest. She raised the issue because it’s of interest to her, as it is to me.

  36. I already bought a card for my son-in-law for when they have their first baby. Which Sarah’s not pregnant yet, but this was such a lovely card, I had to buy it for Nick.

    I didn’t have a good father. I wonder sometimes how many men actually pray, put their wives first, pay their bills, and make sure they’re fed and if their families know how lucky they are.

    I remember my mom being pregnant with her third child in three years (I was the oldest, the baby she was expecting was #4). She asked my dad to empty the tub of water she’d heated to wash the dishes on the wood stove and he dumped it on the floor. I remember her crying–she was 25 years old.

    So when Bill annoys me, I remind myself of what a good man he really is.

    I’m not sure if that was on the subject, but I appreciate every good dad and you don’t have to be a saint to get my respect.

  37. I’m traveling on business of Father’s Day. No joke!

  38. John Taber says:

    No children yet for me. That’s just as well because we’re in the (long) process of moving into our first (row) house.

    This Sunday our stake is having a special conference. Our stake president is being released, after four years of service, due to failing health. He’s had cancer since before he became stake president, but was generally around and available.

    This past April, though, was our regular stake conference. He wasn’t there, as he was just out of the hospital, this time with jaundice. He didn’t make our ward’s conference a few weeks later, either. When he’s made it to a ward’s sacrament meeting, the instruction has been to not come up and greet him. When he’s set someone apart, the two of them have been the only ones in the room. The jaundice is gone, so he isn’t yellow all over – now he’s just gray. So the visiting authorities will come in this weekend, and the stake will move on – somehow.

    I only mention this because he’s been a second father to me, and not just because I’ve been an assistant stake clerk for most of the time he’s been stake president. His family and mine have crossed paths a few times over the decades (Salt Lake isn’t that big of a place) and he became stake young men’s president when I was a priest, just before I became first assistant.

    It’s an interesting contrast, comparing the two times he’s asked me to give a prayer. Once was at a stake dance when I was 17. I’d helped DJ the first hour, but toward the end of the dance he asked me to stay by the stage, I was going to give the closing prayer. (I think he wanted to keep me away from his daughters.)

    Fourteen years later, I was 31 and by then an assistant stake clerk. The other assistant clerks and I were invited to a stake presidency meeting. He asked me to give the opening prayer – I wasn’t sure if I was even worthy to be at the meeting. (More than two years after that meeting I’m still not sure.)

    When this stake presidency was put in, I was in the middle of moving up here, to live with my parents (again) after being laid off from my job. Later that week I was finally able to put the last few things in the car and drive up here. I stopped to get gas about halfway up. While I was pumping gas, I was feeling frustrated about the situation. The Holy Ghost reminded me that I knew this new stake president and he new me. His first counselor had been my bishop, so I knew him and he knew me as well. I was going to have opportunities here I wouldn’t get somewhere else.

    And about two weeks later, I was called as an assistant stake clerk. My relationship with the stake president (and other leaders) only grew stronger, even if everyone had to be patient with me at times. While I don’t expect to be released, the relationship I’ve had with this stake president in many ways is going to come to an end this Sunday – no matter how much longer he lives.

    I’m not looking forward to it, and having this conference on Father’s Day doesn’t help.

  39. Travis: Give me a break, DKL. This is a topic Elisabeth and I have discussed at length and in earnest. She raised the issue because it’s of interest to her, as it is to me.

    I really don’t see what this has to do with the patronizing tone of the post. My point is that men don’t like to have their identities reduced to pat cliches (like David McKay’s) any more than women do.

    Travis: What *is* our role as fathers?

    The problem is in the ontological assumption of your question. The primary flaw in modern discourse about personality is the separation that it posits between the person’s identity and the contexts in which it functions. Fatherhood isn’t some “role” that I fulfill when I go to work or change diapers. I am a father, and that’s all that there is to it. My familial obligations are a part of who I am, both insofar as I fulfill them and insofar as I neglect them, both to the extant that I define them and to the extent that I leave them undefined.

    The bottom line is this: I don’t enjoy the kind of separation between this “role” that you talk about and my identity. I don’t talk about fatherhood on the bloggernacle because I don’t generally want to talk about myself in any depth.

  40. DKL, Elisabeth does have a point. After reading this, I realized that I haven’t posted about my family since October 2004. This probably has more to do with (1) an interest in respecting their privacy, and (2) the thought that items relating to them wouldn’t really interest the bloggernacle at large anyway, than anything else.

    But this opens a larger navel-gazing question of blogging: does it really matter what will interest the bloggernacle? Am I blogging for the bloggernacle? Apparently so.

  41. kristine N. says:

    This past week I helped some guys from the eq move stuff into my garage. A family in my ward is moving to germany and we’ve agreed to hang on to some of their things that didn’t fit in their storage unit. Anyway, as the guys were moving stuff they were talking, of course, and what amazed me was that they were talking about their kids and their families. They didn’t really tell funny stories; their conversation was instead more general, more good-natured grumbling about their lives with kids compared to their lives without (one of them has a brand new baby, so I think the other two guys were letting him know what to expect).

    It really struck me that these guys’ families are far more important to them than I’d have guessed. I sing with several of their wives and I see how they interact with their children and through that interaction I see how important their children are. It was an eye-opener to see the same depth of feeling, expressed in a different way, but still expressed by a set of LDS fathers.

    Oh, and as far as mothers being the sole nurturers–I don’t think so. My dad may have nurtured different aspects of my personaility, but he was most definitely a nurturer, as was my grandfather.

  42. kristine N. says:

    Seth–the quality of a school is determined by the quality of the students, not the quality of the teachers. If students are prepared well at home for school they will do well. If the parents don’t value education

    DKL–why are you feeling attacked? To a large extent our roles define who we are as people. I am also curious about how men view their roles as fathers. Helps me see what my (future) role of mother is more clearly.

    The division isn’t unique to the bloggernacle. At school I feel the divide between school and social/family life is much stronger for men than it is at church, or it is here. I almost never hear men talking about their family lives, though I talk to many women at school about their kids. I see men commenting on family-oriented issues around here, and even though they don’t necessarily bring up their own families, even though their rationale for an opinion is generally backed up by impersonal arguments, I have gotten the impression experiences with family members inform many opinions. Women like to hear and to share personal anecdotes, so to some extent I wonder if there isn’t a difference in discussion/argument style feeding into the lack of fatherhood stories.

  43. Imagine me writing a suggestion that to celebrate mothers’s day, women should try to relate to their children more like a man.

    Take your children into the forest for a day, teaching them to run a chainsaw and heft a double-bit axe, and bring home five cords of firewood.

    Train your children to understand and respect automobiles by rebuilding an engine, with the stipulation that they must walk or find rides everywhere until the job is finished.

    Help your kids understand the meaning and value of life by teaching them how to slaughter a domestic animal that they have raised, and preparing it for food for the family.

    Provide opportunities for temporary employment for your children that involve high hazards and routine risk of serious personal injury. Educate them in how to deal safely with such risk. Teach them to endure temporary physical discomfort and pain without complaining. Help them understand that preparing meals and doing laundry are not comparable burdens.

    Do these qualify as “nurturing”? They would for me. These are some of the kinds of things I could have taught my former children, things that they will likely never learn from their mother.

  44. Jim: “Imagine me writing a suggestion….”

    I think we don’t have to imagine your suggestion, Jim. Thanks for sharing.

  45. a Christian says:

    When I became a father 18 months ago, I counted it as one of the happiest days of my life. That being said, I remember waiting for the outpouring of other favors and blessings. We had decided to have a child while still poor and in school because of the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I was still waiting for the reward of that, as I thought, extraordinary act of faith. Around the time of her first birthday I cam to realize that she is the blessing – she is the reason. I’m glad I learned that lesson early. The love that I have for her is something I can’t explain. What a great blessing it is to be a Father.

  46. Thanks, Elisabeth, for a post that really made me smile. I’ve been told by more than one person that I’m the only bloggernacle man who regularly comments at Tales from the Crib or Mommy Wars. And I’m happy with that designation.

    I love to blog about my kids. I wrote about a dinner conversation with the just a few days ago at T&S. I’ve blogged many times about them previously: About primary songs that remind me of my daughter; about adventures in pet ownership; about funny things the kids have said now and then. (And I did a lot of this while I was at Cravath, working 80+ hours a week!)

    I love the fact that my new job allows me so much more time with he kids. I feel that one of my great personal failings has been not always spending as much time with my children as I should. And I’m often happiest when I get a spontaneous hug or cute little note or piece of artwork or song from the kids. Being a father is the best job on earth, no two ways about it.

    I don’t have much else to add, except to thank you again for a post that warmed my heart, and to sincerely second the motion for more bloggernacle discussion of fatherhood.

    p.s. As has been noted above, my co-blogger Adam also regularly talk about his children. Off the top of my head, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen fathering posts from Bryce, Russell, Ethesis, and probably Matt.

  47. DKL #40:

    “I don’t talk about fatherhood on the bloggernacle because I don’t generally want to talk about myself in any depth.”

    Don’t make me laugh. You talk about yourself all the time. You are your own favorite topic. Anyone who’s read the bloggernacle for 10 minutes knows which schools you’ve been kicked out of, how many times you’ve been banned from where, and what kind of tobacco you liked to smoke. Why don’t you talk about something cute, like your kids? People might actually start liking you then. . .

  48. I feel that one of my great personal failings has been not always spending as much time with my children as I should.

    And by implication, you feel it’s also a great personal failing of the rest of us that still work 80+ hours a week. Well, I’m sure I fail a lot of people in a lot of ways, including my kids. But one keeps muddling through.

    To paraphrase (Sartre?), “Hell is other people['s kids.]” I’d like to thank those bloggers who spare us all the details of every utterance and turd emitted by their angels.

  49. gst, that is absolutely hilarious.

  50. Seth R. says:

    I like DKL anyway, even if he is a twerp.

    kristine,

    It’s a well known fact that people select homes based on the perceived quality of the school for that neighborhood.

    If you don’t do that, that’s fine. But realize you are a very small minority in America. Just about every family in the American housing market buys based on school districts. For sellers of real estate, school district is a HUGE factor in house pricing.

    Often, this leads people to buy houses they really have no business purchasing and loading themselves with a lot of debt, which, in turn necessitates one or both parents becoming married to their work.

    I say you’re better off buying a house you can afford, thereby freeing up time you would otherwise have to spend at work for mortgage repayments. The parental involvement will serve the kids better than a “good school.”

  51. Seth R. says:

    Oh yeah, being on a cul de sac increases a homes value a LOT as well.

    Which is ironic, since cul de sac communities have some of the highest rates of child traffic fatalities, contribute to suburban isolation and loss of community, and transform your car from a useful symbol of personal freedom – into essentially a prosthetic device.

  52. Elisabeth,
    You want a comment on fatherhood, here goes. By way of introduction, I am a physician in training, specializing in child neurology. My wife is an early childhood educator and our interests complement eachother that way. Human growth and development have always been fascinating to me. Personal growth, development and progression is the most fascinating part on the gospel to me.
    I have three beautiful children ages 2,4, and 6. They can say the most amazing and profound things. I have experienced wonder and satisfaction at times in dealing with them that I could never have otherwise experienced. They can drive me insane. The family is certainly the school of the gods.

    However, I am also a physician in training. I am working overnight often every fourth night. I miss too much interaction with my kids. At times I feel really distant from them. When I am home I am often exhausted and grumpy and unable to handle their unbridled energy. I develop a short temper and say things to them I of which I am ashamed. My wife really gets angry and frustrated I do this and initially spent a great deal of time chastising me for it. I feel the distance this creates and it truly saddens me.
    Occasionally, I repent and try to really connect with my kids. I sing a bedtime song to them every night I can. I read to my oldest(currently CS Lewis) every night I can. With Father’s day coming up, My wife just left to visit her sister and is taking the kids with her. I will be without family on Father’s day. I feel this constant strain pulling me from my family caused by demands of my career. I feel distance developing and I don’t know what to do about it. I feel it diminishing any ability I have to lead and set an example for them and I grow more frustrated.
    My children now show small flashes of anger every now and then that I never used to see. My six year old daughter has picked up on the complaining of Wife and loves to report anything I may be doing wrong to her. If Heavenly Father is our model, I and most any father I have ever peripherally observed is failing miserably. Most Americans feel distant from their fathers and Mormons are not immune. My childhood was no different.

  53. oops finished to soon, anyway, Men don’t talk about fatherhood because they don’t talk about failings, they don’t want to open themselves to criticisms, and frankly, we are usually quite shut off to our feelings. So there you have it.

  54. kristine N. says:

    Seth–

    okay, people who value education make more money, and then pay to live around other people who also value education and also make more money. So, really, if you value education, you’ll probably value it enough to pay to live around others who share your values, and the schools in the neighborhood will reap the benefit of good parenting, producing good schools.

    That has nothing to do with the teachers at any given school. I think we agree that parenting has more to do with scholastic success than the school environment, but as the child of a long line of teachers, I do resent the implication that by giving out homework teachers make parents “do the teacher’s job.” People lern best by doing, and homework is a way to practice a set of skills or knowledge.

    This is very definitely wandering into threadjack territory, but oh well.

    I had three classes this semester, none of which gave out substantial homework. I didn’t learn a damn thing, and I’m pissed about it. I went to class, I went through the notes (pre-printed so I didn’t even have to worry about learning by writing down my own notes), did every assignment that was given. The teachers, by neglecting to assign homework (since it would “take away” from the time I have to learn and do research) did me a huge disservice. Lecturing does not teach. Practice teaches.

    To maybe at least angle this post back to the realm of the original discussion, children whose fathers are involved in their intellectual upbringing do better in school. Kids respond to male nurturers in a way they don’t to females (not that I know from firsthand experience, but I’ve seen a few studies). Most people expect that their mothers are proud of what they do, sometimes to the point that maternal pride is taken for granted and ultimately not meaningful. Paternal validation, because is it not assumed, is more powerful a motivator and more meaningful. I love it when my dad expresses pride in something I do, and I’d love to hear more about family experiences that make fathers around here proud.

    Jim Cobabe–that is exactly the kind of nurturing my dad gave me. I love him for it :)

  55. kristine N. says:

    Doc–

    If it makes you feel any better, my dad was grumpy when I was a kid, too, probably for similar reasons (he worked the graveyard shift). I still love him, and honestly, I feel closer to him than I do to my mom. Admittedly, I have a more similar personaility and more interests in common with my dad, but also the effort he put into the interactions with us kids on his “good days” made up for much of the grumpiness. If you let your kids know you love them whenever you can, they’ll figure it out.

  56. Mark IV says:

    Follow-up to doc’s comment #55 -

    One very good reason that men don’t talk about fatherhood much is because nobody wants to hear middle-class white guys talk about how tough life is.

    That goes especially for other middle-class white guys.

  57. Elisabeth (33): Jims (Cohabe and bob) and others – as Lynnette and Ana ask – I’m curious as to why you think nurturing is a woman’s reponsibility. Is this something you were taught at church, or are you joking around?

    I didn’t say anything about nurturing, so I’m not sure why you’re lumping me in on that comment. I do agree with the Brethern, however, that “Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.” Surely that doesn’t absolve me from also nurturing, but nothing I’ve said would indicate that I don’t do that. I just don’t do it as much as I would like.

    As Seth R., et al’s comments on taking a less demanding job, I think that the view is overly simplistic. I took the job I took so my wife wouldn’t have to work so she could stay home with the kids. I do alright, but in order to stay out of debt (also a mandate from the Brethern), we live pretty frugally. And having this job means that there are a lot of nights I can’t make it home before my boy goes to sleep. I regret it as much as my wife does. I can assure you I’m not doing it for my ego. Moreover, specific to the profession of the law, it would be hard to find a job where that wasn’t true, even if I was to take less money. Not everyone can be a law professor.

    I guess this would be my first comment on my family here. Perhaps this is what you were looking for?

  58. That’s a great comment, jimbob. Thanks.

  59. jimbob, you’ve touched on a tangential, but crucial point: LAWYERS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO REPRODUCE.

  60. Mark B. says:

    My lovely, brilliant, talented oldest daughter gave birth to her third child last Wednesday, June 7. Mother and son (and husband and older siblings (and especially grandparents!)) are doing great.

    My lovely, brilliant, talented youngest daughter graduated from McGill University on June 1, with a B.A. in Geography/Urban Design. She’s looking for a job in Montreal–any help would be greatly appreciated.

    My lovely, brilliant, talented wife received her M.A. in Early Childhood Education that same day from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. She made the Dean’s Graduate Honor Roll, having received no grade lower than an “A” (she got an A+ in a few classes).

    How’s that, Elisabeth?

  61. Mark IV says:

    LAWYERS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO REPRODUCE.

    Which brings to mind my favorite lawyer joke:

    Q: What do lawyers use for birth control?

    A: Their personalities.

    Please don’t sue me – I think all lawyers in the bloggernacle have wonderful personalities.

  62. John Taber says:

    LAWYERS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO REPRODUCE.

    Nor should one ward have as many “young” (e.g. 25-40) lawyers as mine does. But our Primary could really use the kids . . .

  63. Uh oh, Mark B, you might have gone too far with that one. (See T&S posts on the horror of Christmas letters in which people write about the achievements of their kids.)

  64. #49 Mardell, we are all our own favorite topic. If you read carefully, you’ll see the words “I” and “me” a lot. That’s the lure of blogging for me. I love to talk about myself.

    I like DKL, too. He grows on one, not to speak of you in the third person, D.

  65. Carlton says:

    Good discussion.

    Check this out: On Sunday, immediately after sacrament meeting, the branch president’s first counselor walked up to my wife and asked her if she and I would speak next week (what gall – he asked my wife and not me about speaking – surely he broke some rule). The same offer was extended on Mother’s Day and we declined. Our childless situation is nearly identical to RT/JNS’ situation. Just about everyone in the Branch knows now knows why we have no kids after nine years of marriage. I told the counselor that I was really uncomfortable speaking next week and gave him a “yes, maybe.” I got the impression he thought it was funny to extend the offer.

    Here’s a question. I’ve read/heard many talks from our latter-day authorities that indicate the idea of “Mother” does not necessarily mean having children. Talks have been given that a woman can still be a mother, due to an inherent nurturing ability, even without offspring (or marriage – marriage offers a woman to be mommy to their husband, he he). I have never heard/read similar ideas for “father.” Has anyone else?

    In RT’s post on “Childless” his wonderful wife Serenity Valley mentions, “We are never treated as adults.” My wife and I have talked about this phenomenon for a while now. She notices that the Elders feel especially motivated to publicly point out my weaknesses (as if I’m a 12 year-old deacon – I’m friggin’ 35), especially as a leader (EQP), and the underlying tone seems to be because I haven’t spawned, I mean, sired any offspring. Once a member in the EQ offered to lie with my wife and give us a child. I told my wife about it and she threw up a little in her mouth.

  66. that is exactly the kind of nurturing my dad gave me. I love him for it

    Mine too. It was always dad’s job to go camping with us, to take us to work with him, to bring us home dirty and tired and a little bit bruised and bloody from time to time.

    My dad served in the bishopric in our ward during most of the time I was growing up. He was always busy. But I don’t think he shortchanged us on time spent.

    This is what I mourn the most for my lost children. They have a “nurturing” mother who decided that by her standard their father was not making a positive contribution. So she decided to change the arrangement. And she had every resource of the law and the church to support her. As well as my continuing mandatory financial “obligations”.

    It has been more than ten years, and I have seen or heard nothing from my children since then. But I suppose they are “nurtured”.

  67. Doc #55: Men don’t talk about fatherhood because they don’t talk about failings

    I talk about fathering all the time — just not with all y’all. But I happen to RULE at it. If you don’t believe me just ask me…

    John #65: See T&S posts on the horror of Christmas letters in which people write about the achievements of their kids.

    You might be thinking of the Thang. Kristen wrote a classic post on that subject.

  68. rleonard says:

    For the record I am actually involved with the nurturing of my kids. A multiple birth made this fact very real….. My previous posts not withstanding. I am just not needing any public recognition or accolades on Oprah.

    #67 Its true. Its not specific to the church its a part of life. I have experienced both infertility for a few years and lots of kids after that. We were treated much differently after having our first child. It was like we belonged all of sudden. I was even taken more seriously at work. With Child adults are in their own club and tend not to see childless adults as having arrived at full adulthood yet with adult responsibilities.

  69. On May 28, my oldest grandchild turned 8 years old and was baptised at her home ward in South Bend, IN. All of our family was there except for my son, daughter-in-law and other granddaughter who live in Brooklyn. It was amazing to consider how much of life has passed.

    It is my humble, yet very qualified opinion that she is very bright. One of my favorite examples of her intelligence is when she was 4 1/2 we visited their home for Thanksgiving. My wife had assigned me to peel potatoes for the dinner and I complained to Whitney (my grandaughter) that “Grandma is a slavedriver, isn’t she?” Whitney’s responded by saying “She’s not a slavedriver, she’s a motivator!” 4 years old – what a vocabulary.

  70. rleonard,

    Right on, I should’ve mentioned that the “father” phenomenon exists out of the Church too. It’s the “every woman, becasue of their inherent nature, = mother” idea that seems odd. I’m actually a pretty darn good nurturer so I’m a man and a mother, just not a father.

  71. re 42, well, I was mistaken. It turns out that I talked about my family as recently as March 13 on my blog. Now, what you’ll notice about this is how my family is woven in to a post about something else.

    Does this not count, though? Elisabeth, are you sure that fathers in the bloggernacle really aren’t talking about their families, in a way similar to this example?

  72. Kristine says:

    So, um, john f. (#65)–are there any posts I’ve written that DIDN’t offend you enough to remember and bring up a year or more later? Also, is there a statute of limitations on blogging offenses, or will there be a jubilee year at some point??

  73. Kristine, oops! Sorry about that! I didn’t even look up that post; just remembered it and thought it was funny given the intersection of Elisabeth’s post and Mark B.’s attempt to remedy the perceived dearth. So I didn’t even think it was you who had written that.

    As for other comment that I referred to on my blog last week, it is true that it was in a post by you, but that post was certainly not offensive in any way. To the contrary, it was the basis for what I thought at the time was an interesting and useful discussion. Some commenter wondered why a commenter like me just won’t go away, and that comment seemed a little mean, not your post!

  74. there is probably a statute of limitation, or at least the doctrine of laches should apply.

  75. Kristine says:

    Laches? I hope that has nothing to do with leaches :)

  76. There definitely is a status change when you have kids. My boss is in his fifties, married for 30 years or so, and childless. I can’t help but see myself as more advanced in life than he is. I guess I see parenthood as another rite of passage beyond adulthood. When you have kids the stakes are higher and life is different. It just is. Of course, that doesn’t excuse treating the childless as second-class or anything. Though I do find it harder to befriend childless peers because I figure they don’t want to hang around with my kids. It’s more comfortable to bring kids to other people’s house or have people over to our place if they have kids of their own, preferably crazy, rambunctious ones like mine.

  77. Seth R. says:

    Of course my comment was simplistic. All guiding principles are simplistic. If I tried to cover every complexity and eventuality, it would be a useless comment wouldn’t it?

    Sorry about the threadjack. I believe I was responding to something with it, but I can’t really remember what to tell the truth.

    Maybe it just reinforces Elizabeth’s original speculation that guys generally prefer to discuss impersonal theory instead of personal family life.

  78. Men don’t talk about fatherhood because they don’t talk about failings, they don’t want to open themselves to criticisms, and frankly, we are usually quite shut off to our feelings. So there you have it

    see posts #62, 69, 70, 72. We even nurture with bravado.

  79. Carlton says:

    Wow Tom, maybe that’s why some Mormon’s are adamant that Jesus was married and fathered children.

  80. Of course my comment was simplistic. All guiding principles are simplistic. If I tried to cover every complexity and eventuality, it would be a useless comment wouldn’t it?

    That’s the second time I’ve seen you use this defense, Seth. Perhaps the answer is that you should reserve general comment on specific situations until you know what those specific situations entail. My guess is that 95% of those who post here are well-aquainted with the “guiding principles” (even if they disagree with them), and probably don’t need a primer. You’re effectively using a bat to swat a fly, and then feigning confusion as to why people complain about the force of the tool. Save your calls for repentance for when you’re sure repentance is required.

    If your answer to any of the forgoing is that you’re just spouting principles generally with no intent of chastising any one person, then pick the timing of your abstract principles in a manner that does not conveniently coincide with a specific situation.

  81. Naw, Carlton, I’m only talking about interpersonal social dynamics, not status in the eyes of God or value or righteousness or anything like that. In other words, I don’t see parenthood as a religious rite of passage on par with baptism, as it seems you might be understanding me to be saying.

    I do see parenthood as an advancement in life on par with becoming an independent adult. The life changes that parenthood entails are at least as profound as those associated with leaving home and becoming one’s own provider, as well as those associated with marriage.

  82. Tom said:

    I do see parenthood as an advancement in life on par with becoming an independent adult. The life changes that parenthood entails are at least as profound as those associated with leaving home and becoming one’s own provider, as well as those associated with marriage.

    Sorry, Tom, I have to take issue with this. I believe you when you say it’s a profound life change, but categorizing it as an advancement rather than simply a difference is in itself a value judgement. If childbearing were an entirely voluntary activity, then I’d say your statement was entirely reasonable. As childbearing is not entirely voluntary, as God decides whether or not to give us children, it simply can’t be categorized as an advancement. That would imply that God denies some of us the opportunity to progress.

    I do understand what you’re actually trying to say here, but language is a rum thing, and we should take care in our use of it.

  83. My contribution to this thread is a quote from a book by Michael Novak (a Catholic who almost certainly never met David O. McKay) that I read 17 years ago when I was a young father of one child. The words mean far more to me now, as a seasoned father of nine, than they did then.

    “People say of marriage that it is boring, when what they mean is that it terrifies them: too many and too deep are its searing revelations … No tame project, marriage. The raising of children … brings each of us breathtaking vistas of our own inadequacy … Being married and having children has impressed on my mind certain lessons, for whose learning I cannot help being grateful, though most of what I am forced to learn about myself is not pleasant … Seeing myself through the unblinking eyes of an intimate intelligent other, an honest spouse, is humiliating beyond anticipation … My dignity as a human being depends perhaps more on what sort of husband and parent I am, than on any professional work that I am called to do. My bonds to them hold me back from many sorts of opportunities. And yet, these bonds are, I know, my liberation. They force me to be a different sort of human being, in a way in which I want and need to be forced.”

    I wrote in my journal as follows concerning these words: “One of the greatest blessings the Gospel has brought into my life [as a convert] is the ability to realize that beyond all the daily frustrations, there is purpose. There is purpose in being a husband and a father – purpose and a great reward. But the rewards are not easily attained, nor should they be. This is what I must always remember.”

    I do always try to remember …

  84. Sorry, SV, I can see how the word advancement can be read to infer superiority. I don’t think having children makes one more highly favored in the eyes of God than those who don’t have children.

    I don’t agree with everything you wrote, but the important thing is to get the misunderstanding out of the way.

  85. Seth R. says:

    jimbob

    Fair enough. My own typical mode of participation is to read (not always thoroughly) through the discussion, brainstorm ideas and related ideas, and throw them out for consideration. They aren’t always directed at a specific individual or specific post. That was (I hope) the case here.

    At my worst however, I will sometimes really be responding to an actual post or person … scratch that … I’ll be responding to a highly cariacatured and stereotyped version of the person, or the post that I have personally manufactured. This isn’t really fair of me and I appreciate it when people point that out.

    I like to think that the comment on high housing prices leading to the need for a higher level of income, which in turn is demanded by sometimes illusory needs (like school district) was not simply common knowledge – something everyone knows. Perhaps you disagree?

  86. Kristine says:

    I really dislike the notion that having children ipso facto makes one a better, or more mature, or more patient, or whatever, person. Like many challenges and new experiences, being a parent can produce personal growth, but it doesn’t always, and I don’t think there’s any reason to think that children are more productive of personal or spiritual growth than, say, a new job that strectches you to your limits, a stint as RS President in a difficult ward or small branch, the loss of a parent, etc. I think it’s the fact that it’s a reasonably common experience, and one we can share, and one that is more democratic than most (no intellectual or professional or material qualifications are required) that makes people want to lionize parenthood as productive of superior maturity and wisdom.

    I adore my children, and they certainly provide ongoing opportunities for developing patience and ingenuity, but I’d like to believe that if I’d spent the last 10 years developing a career, being involved in service, reading more books (even occasionally reading a whole book in one sitting–I remember that!!), I would have grown in interesting and valuable ways, ways that would make me a different kind of adult than I am now, but certainly not less of one.

  87. Tom,

    Sorry, just a linguistic quibble. I have to ask: about what do we disagree? Just curious.

  88. Thanks so much for that comment, Kristine. As a woman who is not only childless but single, I often feel that I have two strikes against me when it comes to the question of whether or not I get viewed as an adult. Obviously I’ve missed out (so far, at least) on some of life’s experiences that can lead to growth, but I’d like to think that my particular life challenges and opportunities constitute more than a “pre-adult” stage of life.

  89. Serenity,
    Not to jump in on your conversation, but to state advancement implies God does not allow others denied parenthood in this life to progress is to deny the possiblity that there are perhaps more than one road for the same advancement, or the possibility that something withheld in this life could be provided in the next.
    My belief in a personal and loving God allows room for personalized trials individually tailored to mold us to our full potential. I realize it is easy when single or childless, particularly when not by choice it is easy to feel marginalized by the Church. I have been both and I remember. We struggled unexpectedly to have our first child and that was quite an experience in itself. However, the thread is about sharing experiences of Fatherhood, which I cannot see ever being encouraged if saying it spurs growth is seen as judgemental.

    Kristine-
    You are quite correct in stating that parenthood, like any difficulty in life can build character or can be failed miserably to our detriment. Thank you for emphasizing this point. The emphasis of the Church on marriage and family no doubt leave many feeling isolated and left out in God’s plan. Having an opportunity does not make us any more or less favored in the eyes of God, that depends on what our unique set of opportunities allows us to become.

  90. Kristine says:

    “I’d like to think that my particular life challenges and opportunities constitute more than a “pre-adult” stage of life.”

    Of course they do–you’ve never heard of a Larvae Ward, have you?!

    :)

  91. Furthermore, taking offense at such things only reinforces the point nobody wants in post 58. Nobody wants to hear middle class white guys talk about how tough life is,

  92. Julie M. Smith says:

    It isn’t my intention to rub salt into the wounds of the childless, but I need to disagree with Kristine: parenting is unlike anything else in the universe, period, and there is no experience that compares to it. This doesn’t mean that a parent will necessarily be more patient or humble or whatever than a nonparent, but it does mean that there are some lessons that one learns or experiences that one derives from parenting that cannot be had any other way. I’m not sure how we could justify the place that we give parenting, especially mothering, in LDS thought if there were a reasonable equivalence.

  93. SV (#89),
    It’s nothing that really much to do directly with what we’re talking about. It’s just that I think that in this fallen world random chance (as well as personal choice) has a lot to say about whether we have children and it’s not always God’s decision. (I would never presume to make judgments in particular cases one way or another.) The world just makes best sense to me if I attribute a lot of the bad, unfortunate, and unfair things to randomness and not to God.

    Also, I don’t think using advancement necessarily constitutes a value judgment if we’re talking in chronological or social terms. But I agree that it’s worth it to use a term that won’t miscommunicate. Maybe passage would be a more precise (and less potentially hurtful?) way of saying what I mean. How does “parenthood is a passage” sit with you?

  94. Heather O says:

    I think maybe people are taking all of this a little too seriously. Different blogs have different flavors, and we choose topics that fit those flavors. There are plenty of things that go on in my life that, contrary to all appearances, I do not blog about. Same goes for fathers, I would guess. There may be a variety of reasons why fathers don’t blog about their children, as has been outlined here, but I don’t think the silence means that fathers do not take their responsibilites seriously, or care about their children’s progress as vehemently as the mothers do.

    Also, I think the blogs often parallel what men and women talk about in real life. Go to any party with a bunch of married couples, and usually you will find the women chatting about their kids, the issues they are facing, etc, and the men talking about…well, something else. Again, I don’t think it’s because men don’t care about child issues, they just don’t talk about it (obsess about it?) as much as women do.

  95. Julie, the place reserved for Mother’s in the church is not reserved only for women blessed with children in this life. Eve was called the “Mother of all living” before she had children. Perhaps you are correct that nothing can compare to parenthood, but nothing can compare to the trial of being denied the privilege of parenthood either. I can’t imagine it is constructive to compare the growth that results from both.

  96. Julie M. Smith says:

    skl, It was never my intention to imply that women blessed with children in this life would get something that others would not. I don’t think that that is true–far from it. And, as I stated explicitly, I was not comparing the growth that results from it (see my original comment).

  97. Elisabeth says:

    Thanks to all of you who made constructive comments on this thread. My intention in writing this post was not to offend anyone or to be patronising, and I apologize to anyone who may have been offended or annoyed by it. I’m very interested in hearing more from Mormon men how they see their role as fathers – in my opinion, I don’t think we hear enough from fathers about their children. There are some wonderful “mommy” blogs in the bloggernacle, but men don’t seem as engaged in sharing their family experiences, for a variety of reasons as many of you have pointed out.

    I’m happy to keep comments open on this thread, but I’m concerned about it turning contentious over the issue of the exclusive lessons (if any)having children can teach us, and whether or not couples who are childless are lacking in maturity, etc. These are sensitive topics, so please be kind.

  98. Julie M. Smith says:

    Elisabeth, I’m going to bow out of this part of the discussion: I don’t think parenting is comparable to any other life experience, but I should have anticipated that it would not be easy to convey this idea without stepping on some toes. People are already assuming I meant things I didn’t say, and I don’t have much hope for this improving, so nevermind. What Kristine said.

  99. As a single young woman who mostly socializes with other young single women (the bishopric was so grateful we have so many graduating seniors this year; otherwise, they’d have called another female YSA to be my co-representative in the ward,) I’d enjoy reading more from intelligent LDS adult men about fatherhood and/or being husbands. My stepfather’s a convert and my dad’s a nonmember, and both have been away at work or in another state or both for most of my life. Faithful male LDS role models can be hard to come by, especially if on top of everything else you teach in Primary. ^_^

    (though I also dig the intellectual and political stuff. Ohio and adulthood in general have been very dry places for me, mentally and spiritually…)

  100. Elisabeth says:

    Oh, Julie – I wasn’t singling you (or anyone else) out! Stick around.

    By the way, I just saw the movie “One True Thing” (with Meryl Streep, William Hurt and Renee Zellweger), which is an interesting commentary on traditional gender roles played out as the daughter moves home to take care of her dying mother. A few “f” bombs, but otherwise a well-acted, thought provoking movie.

  101. Steve, you can be so uptight. That post was genuinely funny.

  102. Steve Evans says:

    Jared, don’t look at me. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

  103. Really, well today is the day I first experienced the brunt of Bloggernackle censorship.

  104. Steve Evans says:

    my advice: get used to it.

  105. So when was the last time you were censored?

  106. Steve Evans says:

    last week.

  107. Well then, I guess I should feel right at home. I was kinda p#%@&d off there for a moment…

  108. Tom,

    Really interesting. I’m not sure where I stand on the whole “really truly completely omnipotent God” thing, so hey, that works for me.

    Passage, I think, is an excellent word to use here.

  109. Blogging about children drops precipitously as the child ages from five to ten. Blogging about a three-year-old’s vomit is funny. Blogging about a seven year old’s vomit is inconsiderate to the child. I’m casting about to rename my blog or drop it, because the Mother of All Teenagers oughtn’t talk about them.

    Maybe this thing about privacy is something guys intuitively grasp.

  110. Elisabeth says:

    Jared E. – don’t blame Steve. I deleted your comments about your daughter picking her nose not only because you misspelled “nostril”, but also because you mixed up “booger” and “bugger”. VERY big difference.

  111. Elisabeth says:

    Notwithstanding all the cute/gross stories about boogers and vomit, motherhood/fatherhood is more than cleaning up bodily excretions – no?

  112. Yes, Elisabeth. It’s about feeding them, too. There has to be something going in in order for stuff to be coming out so consistently.

    But seriously, you’re right. Yesterday the missionaries were over for dinner and they asked us if it’s fun having kids. We hesitated before I said, “Fun is one of the things that having kids is. It’s also stressful and exhausting and rewarding and several other things.”

    On the fun side, the past couple of days my boys have gotten a huge kick out of ultra-lightning speed “Patty-Cake”. They crack up big time and they just can’t get enough.

  113. Seth R. says:

    Wouldn’t you end up smacking each other in the face doing that?

  114. Elisabeth says:

    By the way, if you do a quick search around the internet, you’ll find quite a few fun “daddy” blogs.

    One cute, now defunct, daddy blog - “Being Daddy“:

    Being Daddy. Like Mommy. Only hairier.

    lol!

  115. rleonard says:

    Some relevant issues are much to sensitive for open discussion sometimes.

    its to bad. We often skirt around ideas that are pretty relevant. Its pretty clear to me that for men responsible fatherhood is a life changing experience that involves a lot of personal growth.

  116. I haven’t read all the comments, but my wife and I just don’t have any kids yet. I live vicariously through my adorable nephews.

  117. Elisabeth says:

    Ben – those are some cute nephews you got there!

  118. ahhhhhhhh, I see. Yes, I spent 3 years in England, so I assure you I do know the difference. But alas, spell check doesn’t catch everything… So sorry to all the Brits.

  119. The tangent about childlessness has been interesting to me, especially since that is where I am in life.

    I’ve got to agree with the point that having children marks a step in your life, like moving to adulthood. Even after eighteen years of marriage, people still think my wife and I are newlyweds, mostly because of the way we treat each other. Frankly, I don’t feel that much older than I did when we got married. I am nearly 50 and still an elder, and it doesn’t seem wrong or out of place, and yet by the time my dad was my age, he had been a high priest for over 20 years. It was kind of a shock when I recently realized that I am the same age my father was when I went on my mission, and I remember teasing him about being an “old man.” I haven’t felt that transition to old-man-ness. It came home to me even more a couple of weeks ago when I got on the elevator on the hospital floor my wife was on after having gall bladder surgery. The post-surgical floor is also the floor where new mothers recover from chilbirth. One man got on the elevator with me and asked whether I was here seing my new grand-baby. I will never in my life answer “yes” to that question.

    I admit that there are things I haven’t learned in life because I haven’t stayed up all night with a sick child, or tried to help with homework in math that I haven’t seen for nearly 30 years, or helped with an Eagle Scout project, or dealt with the nervousness of a first date. But there are things I have learned about dealing with a loneliness I haven’t chosen, and how to reconcile my faith in a loving God and the fact that both my wife’s any my patriarchal blessing promise that we will have children grow up around us who were born in the covenant–promises that simply cannot be kept.

    Father’s Day is hard for me, but even harder for my wife. Why? Because not only does she feel sorry that I will not hear the word “Daddy” applied to me, but she blames herself as being the reason that won’t happen.

    I’m not writing this comment to make anybody feel sorry for me–don’t. Everybody in life has challenges, and experiences that break their hearts. Our challenge just makes it harder to feel that we are, or ever really can be, full members of this very family-oriented church. I’d love to share fatherhood stories–I just don’t have any to share.

  120. Ryan Bell says:

    My impression is that this has a lot to do with the differences between men and women, although it may not be very delicate of me to say so. I can’t claim to have kept up on all of the woman-run blogs around the bloggernacle, but I admit to being quite repelled by the frequent mentions in such environs of poop and vomit and etc. It’s not that I’m grossed out by these things, but I’m really surprised that anyone finds such things interesting.

    But I believe someone above got it right by saying that much of the “mothering” type blogging is about finding support, or identifying with others. In the two years that I blogged, I don’t think I ever posted anything that just sort of stated an issue in my life, and asked others to share similar experiences. Those kinds of posts seem to be ubiquitous in the Tales from the Crib/MMW/FMH world (again, I have limited exposure, so I could be wrong). In short, men are in it for different reasons. Neither way is better, but our motives are quite distinct.

    I didn’t blog about my role as a father much because I just don’t think people are that interested in hearing one’s thoughts on such things. Or, in the reverse, I rarely find anything interesting in other peoples ruminations on their relationships with their kids.

    But that’s not to say the fatherhood role in my life is less important than my work or other religious thinking. Quite the contrary. In the last few years, my role as a father has become an enormous, indelible part of my identity. In fact, I’ve come to think of it as the one thing in life I’ve ever been able to excel at, the most important thing Heavenly Father sent me here to do. If you stripped my status of father from me, it would impoverish me far more than if you took my profession, my other humble talents, or even my ability to physically function. I imagine Heavenly Father has similar feelings about the centrality of his ‘fatherhood’ in his identity.

    Which is why I agree with Julie, contra Kristine. Parenting is a unique journey that simply cannot be simulated, equalled or outdone by any other earthly experience. That is the simple truth as I see it, and while I understand that there are those who, by no fault of their own, will miss these blessings, that does nothing to lessen the magnitude of the blessings, just as having health reasons for not serving a mission cannot mitigate the reward of missionary service. The Lord will compensate for all things in his own due time. Please let’s not refrain from testifying of the excellence of this part of his plan because of the real, and painful, fact that some may not partake in this life. The cost of such omissions is to cede greater territory to those who would convince the world that parenthood is just not worth it.

  121. The wisdom of being a parent is like the wisdom of age, something that is talked about generally but rarely addressed head on. What exactly are you wiser about now that you are a father? Can you give an example? CS Eric makes a point with his comments about helping with math, eagle scout projects and first dates. All of these experiences are available to a mentor, to a close friend, to a confidant, to an uncle. What specific wisdom comes from being a father?

    For me, being a father has helped me understand MY father. I am now on the same side of the divide that he was on 40 years ago and the insights it gives me about my relationship to him are profound.

    The same day Elisabeth started this thread I came across a small journal I had irregularly kept when my kids were younger. One entry illustrates what I’m trying to say:

    “December 2, 2002 Being a father can be heartbreaking. S___ and N___ were playing on our bed. I went in and told them to stop, to play somewhere else. I went back a few minutes later and everything that was on the bed was now in a pile on the floor. Furiously I yelled, ‘What is this? WHAT IS THIS? Didn’t I tell you guys to not play here?’ Then through muffled sobs and tears S___ said, ‘I just made your bed!’ And then I saw that the sheets, blankets and bedspread were straightened and that the pile was actually very carefully and neatly placed on the floor. As he ran off crying I could see him dutifully moving everything off the bed and then making it, only to be yelled at by the person he was trying to please. I went to find him and apologize but it wasn’t successful. That was two weeks ago but I still play it over in my mind and I still hurt.”

    I saw my father as the omniscient and omnipotent presence in my life, so it was hard to forget and forgive the injustices and injuries that occurred between us because I knew that he knew, which made it deliberate. I remember writing that entry and realizing that my father was just a guy like me, struggling to do what was right but saddled with weakness.

    Being a son and a father has helped me be less judgemental, more quick to forgive and more tolerant of human weakness. For me that has been a gift without price.

  122. jjohnsen says:

    Great post KLC.

  123. Jim Cobabe says:

    Memorable moments of early fatherhood.

    Mental image of firstborn son Jim. (He used to share my name. I don’t know what he calls himself today.)

    At the instant of birthing, he emerged with skin colored bright blue. Shocked, unexpected, wondering what went wrong. The first breath, feeble cries, and quickly turning healthy pink. The most incredibly full and dark mane of thick black baby hair running halfway down his back.

    Weeping with joy, filled with the most intensely overwhelming emotional.

    A photo of son Jim, just a toddler. In an unsupervised moment, him standing in the unfinished basement room, the current family project. Beaming brightly, his little hands and arms raised high, coated an inch thick up to the elbows with heavy yellow sheet rock mud.

    Hustles off to the shower.

    A handful of boys at play in the sandbox. Son Robert, five or six years old. Shouting, “By the Power of Greyskull!!!”. Unsheathes a long butcher knife from hiding down the back of his t-shirt, and strikes a pose emulating the tv hero He-Man, brandishing the knife as his invincible weapon, threatening his foes in the sandbox.

    Frantic parental intervention.

    Another vignette of Robert, several years older. Unaware that he is being observed, standing on the sidewalk contemplating as neighbors drive by. He finds a big rock and launches it at Randy Jones passing in his truck. Strikes a bullseye. Randy stops abruptly with a squeal of tires. Looking at me — “Better do somethin’ ’bout that, slick.” “Oh yeah, I will”. Randy continues on. Robert takes to his heels, dad following into the house at a slightly more leisurely pace.

    Intensive father/son discussion on why we don’t throw rocks at cars.

    A landscape moment. Striving to make the desert blossom. Mother and children huddled around the front porch, watching in shock as dad wrestles with the ditch-witch that won’t. Frustrated and enraged beyond control, temper long-lost, cursing and swearing a blue streak.

    At a later sandbox session, father overhears the interplay where one of the children announces that his name is “Dammit”.

    Sincere father/son discussion about how we sometimes say things that we know we shouldn’t.

    Son Thomas, eleven, suffers a serious leg fracture at the roller-skating party. Shocked at such an unexpected turn, the father secretly weeps tears of fear and anguish. “Father in Heaven, please, let the pain and suffering come to me — please spare my children!” Thomas spends miserable months in wheelchair and full cast

    What a fragile thing our lives really are.

    Son Joseph, the most sensitive of the boys. He is so enthralled with Nintendo and Super Mario Brothers that he has a prolonged tantrum when his games are interrupted.

    Some soul-searching for an answer. The game is retired.

    Dad goes to summer camp with the older boys. Along the hiking trail, son Robert is separated from the party for a brief time. Searching, praying, franticly looking for some clue that he might have passed this way, through the thousands of acres of wilderness surrounding. Shortly thereafter, as he is found — “I couldn’t find you guys anywhere!”. Trying not to show the tears of relief and gratitude.

    Dad and son wrap their arms around each other, for a brief instant understanding and acknowledging everything that it means to be dad and son.

    Discussions about what to do when we are lost.

  124. I think for a lot of us LDS men, we have bought into the whole “being a good provider is pre-eminent” idea, and we forget that being a provider does not just mean money.

    Someone up above mentioned that there is an unstated rule that people in high office in the church are often very successful business men. While I think this is a generalization, it is in may ways true.

    Personally I would rather spend less time at the office, and more time at home with my family, but I feel that pressure as well. I feel that if I am not successful, and providing all the monetary requirements of my family, then I am a failure.

    Another part of this is the emphasis on women not working. At least in the United States, the economy has evolved in such a way that it is VERY hard for a single income family to keep up. So the pressure is even greater for the Father to be a huge success and bring in even higher than average salary.

    Personally this is all very sad. Since we are told by Christ that we cannot serve God and Mammon, it seems that all of this is very unseemly in a way.

  125. If I had unlimited amounts of money and no need to continue to work, I would still rent an office and go there during bank hours. I love my family, but being gone during the day is natural. Or maybe I’d just spend the time at the Drones Club or somesuch place.

  126. Another short picture of the integral father/child bond of long ago…

    Son Joseph, retired to his bed early, suffering from flu, feverish. The rest of the family is eating dinner together.

    Some strange signal from the children’s room alerts that something is wrong. “Distress! Help!”, the urgent message, unuttered, yet clearly received.

    Hastening into the room. The child’s body is distended and racked with convulsions. His skin is dusky, ashen gray — impossible. No living person can turn that color. Shock condensed into one horrified frozen moment.

    Suddenly comprehending the need to act, a frantic summons issues for ambulance and paramedics. Confusion over what to do, not knowing what might be wrong.

    Then, a few quiet seconds, like the eye of the hurricane passing over.

    Father gently takes the infant son in his arms. He quietly pronounces a priesthood blessing.

    Moments later, the paramedics arrive and the calm is broken. Amid noise and haste, the child was carried away to the hospital.

    Tense hours followed. Doctors performed diagnostics and made recommendations.

    But everything turned out okay. And the father knew, assured from the moment of the blessing, that it would be so.

    And I believe that somehow, though he was unconscious, the son knew it as well.

  127. Father’s Day is hard for me, but even harder for my wife. Why? Because not only does she feel sorry that I will not hear the word “Daddy” applied to me, but she blames herself as being the reason that won’t happen.

    I used to feel terrible every father’s day. Worse every year, especially after Robin died. All I could focus on was how I had failed because so many of my children had died.

    But, my wife gets through Mother’s Day, I get through Father’s day, I’m grateful for my chidren, both alive and dead. The cenetary is too far to visit them readily, but I’ll think of them.

    But yes, in many ways Father’s day has been a reminder of the bitterest of failures and heartbreak. Still, it is also a time of joy and remembrance and a time to remember my father and to be grateful.

  128. BTW, DKL has a favorite brand of tobacco?

    I’d missed that.

  129. Adam Greenwood says:

    Tom in #30 is on to something.

    “(Imagine a post by Adam Greenwood entitled, “To the Mothers in Zion.”)”
    That would be sweet, DKL. But I haven’t thought of anything inflammatory enough to say yet.

    And finally:

    uh, Elisabeth?

  130. Elisabeth says:

    Indeed, Adam. I agree with Ann.

  131. I think a lot of this lack of blogging about their families is related to number five. (although for me it is number 4)

    There seems to be an assumption that because the big three blogs don’t include a lot of discussion about individual people’s children men don’t do much blogging about their children.

    Well, the big three seem to have a stated purpose of discussion about the Church. Sometimes this includes discussion of children in the abstract, sometimes specific children. But that isn’t the main thrust of these blogs. Blogs such as FMHW or MMW are going to talk about children on a more regular basis and, especially with MMW, the specific children of the posters.
    But… there aren’t any men who are permanent posters at neither FMHW nor MMW (as men may be feminists, but are neither house wives nor mommies.) So, if the comparison is MMW vs. T&S there is a difference in purpose between the blogs. The permabloggers at T&S, male and female, will occasionally include information about their children, but it is less common because it is not central to the blog’s theme.

    However, it seems as though male bloggers and female bloggers alike talk about their families (including their children) on a regular basis at their personal blogs.

    If I had children I would talk about them on my personal blog, but only at UoM when it related to a discussion in which the community there may be interested.

    I think another number 5 type of explanation for why we seem to see less blogging about families from male bloggers may be that people often blog while on breaks at work and blog about issues related to work they are thinking about right then. There are less blog posts and less comments late at night or on weekends. So, if more women are at home full time, it would also seem more likely that their children would be a more regular subject for blog posts. (as opposed to, say, contract law)

  132. John Taber says:

    This Sunday our stake is having a special conference. Our stake president is being released, after four years of service, due to failing health. He’s had cancer since before he became stake president, but was generally around and available.

    This past April, though, was our regular stake conference. He wasn’t there, as he was just out of the hospital, this time with jaundice. He didn’t make our ward’s conference a few weeks later, either. When he’s made it to a ward’s sacrament meeting, the instruction has been to not come up and greet him. When he’s set someone apart, the two of them have been the only ones in the room.

    We had the conference as scheduled, and the jaundice was back with a vengeance – President H. was more green than yellow. (It was really hard to look at him there on the stand.) After he was released he was invited to speak, and did for about fifteen minutes. Clearly he was still there mentally and spiritually, but not physically.

    He died this morning, eighteen days after that conference, at age 57. Even though I’ve known this was coming for three months now – starting when we were asked to fast for him, and I was never able to pray for him to recover – this is still a real blow. I know I will have to draw on the spiritual experiences I’ve had during this time.

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  1. [...] The comments in a post over at By Common Consent brought an interesting question to mind. Is it better for a father to work two jobs and rarely see his family, or is it better for the mother and father to each have a job. [...]

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