I have mentioned before that I am a father. However, I have yet to write about this experience of fatherhood. I’ve thought about it — played around with what a post could look like. But I haven’t pulled the trigger on it yet. And it’s been the same reason each time.
I want to protect my daughter.
With the exception of Jesus and my wife, I have never loved a person so strongly. I still remember the overwhelming feeling of love I felt the moment I saw her be born. In that instant, I became a firm believer that no one else would never be able to love her as much as I do — with the exception of my wife.
Because of this, I am protective of my daughter. I am constantly attentive to her well-being and her joy. I am always analyzing the day’s events to determine if she is feeling loved enough or provided for.
This constant attentiveness also makes me lie awake at night, trembling with fear.
I know my daughter has my genes. She has inherited many genetic traits from me. Her personality shows hints of mine. She has my unique eye color. She even has incredibly varied facial expressions like me.
I fear if she’ll also have bipolar. There’s a 70% chance she has the disorder and could have it triggered into play one day.
There’s a chance my daughter will have inherited my other weaknesses, like my learning disabilities or codependent tendencies.
And, honestly, there’s a chance that she could also struggle with her gender identity and sexuality.
I can’t properly describe to you the utter feeling of despair that consumes me when I think that I may have brought a precious life into the world just to pass on these struggles and disabilities. Some days, it’s all I can do not to break down weeping at the thought of it.
And should it ever come to pass — I worry about what I’ll do to myself. My love for my daughter will never change, but my anger at myself would be terrifying.
I have spent countless hours trying to figure out how to avoid this. How do I keep her from falling into these snares? And, God forbid, if she does fall — how do I help her? I don’t want my daughter to be caught unawares by a struggle.
At what point do I share with my daughter what I’ve been through? How much do I share?
My own parents hid their entire past sins and struggles from me. It wasn’t until I shared with them as an adult that they even acknowledged they weren’t perfect. And they still shared so little that I can’t really say it did anything to help. It made me angry — angry because, if I had known, I could have expected at least a few of the struggles I’d later face.
Instead, my parents were more worried about maintaining a “righteous” image in the mind of their son.
I don’t want to put my daughter through that. I don’t want to put her through the struggles at all. Honestly, there are so many things I don’t want her to go through. I want a better life for her.
And by the way, if you’re thinking of commenting something about how her struggles could help others, or make her more like Christ, or be a great testimony for Jesus — please shut the **** up.
My daughter’s well-being is more important to me than a “great” testimony. You know what great testimony I want for her
That she grew up loved deeply, knowing her value was always rooted in Christ who died for her. That is the testimony I want for her.
And that’s why this will be one of the few posts about her. Because I am still sorting out what this looks like. And until I know how to do that, I don’t feel comfortable sharing details of my relationship with her. Maybe someday when I have it all figured out, I’ll share.
But until then, I will continue to protect my daughter and love her more and more each day.
Did you grow up “protected” from your parents’ struggles, or did they openly share with you? Do you wish you’d known more about their struggles as you faced your own? If you’re a father, how do you express vulnerability with your children and also protect them?
* Photo courtesy enthusiasticawe, Creative Commons.