Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Trusting (Just) Love: Rethinking Fatherhood

"Just love them."

These words from my counselor back in late January of this year helped me open a new chapter in my ongoing journey as a father.

One of the biggest challenges I faced during the many months after coming out was how to deal with the whole thing about being a "Mormon father" - a role (including all the thought patterns, values and goals of such role) in which I had been invested for a very long time. Upon coming out and leaving the LDS Church, however, I had no choice but to rethink that role (and all that went with it) and find what works for me as a father. I proceeded to do that during the months after the divorce but found it to be a continual challenge to leave behind Mormon ways of thinking.

As I had explained to my counselor in January, I was feeling all sorts of "shoulds" - that I should be disciplining the kids more when they were with me, that I should be training the kids, that I should be teaching the kids, that I should be correcting the kids. All these shoulds were a key part of the role I played as Mormon father. This is what I had been expected to do and taught to do (and my older kids can certainly attest to the fact that this is what I did). As far as love is concerned, it was either a given or was somehow supposed to be a byproduct of all the shoulds.

This is when Cynthia slowly shook her head and said, "Just love them."

Love is enough. Love is what is paramount. Particularly in my situation. Just love them.

But doing so required something of me. It required me to trust love. Just love. To leave all the "shoulds" behind. It required me to perceive my role as father differently and to perceive of myself differently. I would have to trust and believe that I am truly capable of love and loving my children without the supporting Mormon superstructure of rules, tasks, shoulds and musts. I would need to trust and believe - as I wrote in my journal back in January - that the children will respond to "just love," just MY love; that they will open up and I will open up and something wonderful would happen.

Many wonderful things have happened during the past seven months, and I have continued to learn lessons and experience insights, some of which I hope to eventually write about. But this challenge to relax into love, to simply love my children and trust that love - this was a turning point for me.

And as I worked on this post, I realized something else that sounds trite but yet is (for me) or can be (for others recovering from Mormon mindsets) a profound insight:

Fatherhood is a journey, not a destination.

No comments:

Post a Comment