The seven Dadly sins


'Happy Father's Day' imageAs Father's Day looms, I embrace zen introspection. My beloved Keeper and I have two offspring, a daughter (a sweetheart aged 12, turning 30) and a son (boisterously nine). Life changed unrecognisably with their arrival, and overwhelmingly for the better.

A preliminary hat tip: single parents have my genuine respect; it's hard enough when you can double team a cherub. So, especially for any single parents, I dips me lid. As for mothers and/or primary caregivers, well, it's confession time.

Most weekdays are comparatively easy for me as a father. I prepare the breakfast de jour and supervise the finding and donning of school uniforms before running away to work, duly leaving the Keeper to orchestrate music practices, lunches, diaries, homework books, sports clobber, permission forms, fundraisers, schoolbags etc. and get them to and from school safely.

Some days aren't easy. Sickness and the usual raft of realities intervene. I leapfrog with the Keeper re carer's days and personal leave days. But life's good; we have two happy and for the most part healthy kids. We are grateful and this father at any rate doesn't do much mid-week heavy lifting.

This Sunday I will join the ranks of sleepy paters, gingerly drinking dubious coffee, eyeing off culinary abominations and graciously acknowledging new socks.

So, with homage duly given to the Keeper, in the interest of transparency, I hereby acknowledge my seven Dadly sins. Fellow fathers, I don't suggest that these faults can also be lain at your door; pick and chew over them at your leisure…

Wrath (grrrrr)
I am not (fully) a grumpy middle aged man, but like many specimens of my vintage I admit to spasmodically being a truculent bastard. Instant obedience from the kinder is expected at times, especially when I go into military mode and want them seatbelted in the car five minutes before now.

The fruit fell close to the tree. Extracting books, ipods, magazines, remote controls, toys, ipads, DSes consoles, etc. takes some doing. Patience may be its own reward but I am yet to fully embrace the whole breathing-in-and-counting-slowly mantra. (Behaviour is a learned experience; my old man could go the full Von Trapp, with added regalia and demeanour).

Sloth (zzzz)
This is a big'un for me. Sleep is my meth. As the Proverbs writer/s quipped, 'As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed.'

Gluttony (Mmmmmmmmmm)
Every swollen belly tells a story. I'm just glad the puppy dog's still kicking, or the leftovers would have killed me by now.

Greed (gimmee gimmee)
I am a consumer. I am impossibly privileged. I am aware of that. I am also working on being grateful and passing on that awareness to our children. (Our sponsoring of overseas kids is one means to that end.)

Lust (va va va voom)
A healthy measure (and manifestation) of this quality is essential for many partnerships. We derive the word from root terms signifying diverse meanings including 'pleasure, appetite, desire, playful and "to be eager"'. Guilty as charged.

Hellenic thought believed the material plane, as opposed to the spiritual, was sordid and profane; mere 'degrading animal passion'. I disagree and, while denying any professional expertise, suggest we humans thrive on holistic, ethically sound connections.

Pride (ta da!)
Gravity is not our friend — yes, pride can and does come before I stack it. Yet I'd contend that my pride in my kids, if toned down sufficiently not to bore friends and family to tears, is a good and helpful thing.

We tell our children we are proud of them and love them. That's not a habit earlier generations were necessarily accomplished at. I'm also a member of the first generation of parents who apologise to their progeny when the parental units screw up. To err is human and to forgive is better than I deserve (yay grace notes).

My prevailing failing. I look at single mates, I see couples without children, and I am often irrationally jealous of their time and disposable income.

But the Stones and U2, my prophets of gloom, are right: if I didn't have the kids I would feel incomplete. Satisfaction isn't always in my best interest, and parenthood is an essential part of what I was looking forward to.

I am not complete, I am not perfect, I am not whole. Nor, honestly, do I ever expect to be.

But I am a Dad who loves his kids.

Barry GittinsBarry Gittins is a communication and research consultant for The Salvation Army.

Father's Day image by Shutterstock.

Topic tags: Barry Gittins, Father's Day, family, parenting



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Existing comments

Ah, the Dadly sins. Well written, Barry. This Sunday will be spent having lunch with our oldest daughter, a teacher like her Dad. There'll be teasing, a kind gift, and best of all, a daughter with my good attributes!
Pam | 03 September 2015

St Joseph patron of Fathers faced a litany of forensic/cultural and asylum seeking nightmares re his child and betrothed. He faced a looming Bub-o-caust from Archelaus, [The latter was one of the sons of Herod the Great, ruled over Judea and Samaria for only 10 years (4 b.c. – a.d. 6). Unusually cruel and tyrannical he threatened a infanticide.Thus 'flight into Egypt'.] And surely Saint Joseph stands as Step-Father of the ensuing millennia and Patron Saint of Asylum Seekers.
Father John George | 03 September 2015

What a great piece, Barry - lovely, funny and smart writing.
Elly Varrenti | 04 September 2015

Thank you for acknowledging the single parent. It’s tough for the children too.
Jane P | 04 September 2015

Thanks Barry, This will be a topic of conversation with my grownup off spring as I 'man' the Barbie this weekend. With the exception of the youngest, still not hitched, I have three grandchildren between two married children with one grandchild now a teenager, teaching her parents! What goes around comes around... Enjoy the day!
Gavin | 04 September 2015

Beautiful, I can so relate to the last two lines. Great work Barry
Andrew Chinn | 04 September 2015

Fortunately, our Patron of Asylum seekers found adequate asylum in Egypt. Throughout Egypt there are a number of churches and shrines that claim to mark an area where the family stayed. The most important of these is the church of Abu Serghis, which claims to be built on the place the family had its home
Father John George | 04 September 2015


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