Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Question & Answer With Chabakuk Elisha - Fatherhood

How has fatherhood changed you?

Now that's a question! How has fatherhood changed me? Let me count the ways...

I find that everything changes. I am no longer an individual, I am a father. The single most decisive force in decisions, in time usage, in finance - in everything - is the fact that I am a parent.

As a child I looked at my father as grown up, old, experienced, knowledgeable, worldly, wise, in control, and above all, the man with all the answers. If my father didn't know, than no one did.

Little did I realize that fathers are often not all that old, of limited experience, with only selective knowledge, often unworldly, prone to mistakes, only wish they could be in control, and often without a clue. That's probably because I'm not as good a father as my father is, but it also means that my children look at me similarly, and although this is unreasonably and unfair to me, it remains my responsibility to try to live up to some of the expectations... Who knew that "the dad" isn't necessarily fully prepared for the job? We would never hire a pilot who wasn't fully trained to fly a plane, but dads don't get any prerequisite degree for the job. I only wish I was keeping my end of the bargain reasonably well.

Do you find that you are able to give individual attention to each of your six children?

Unfortunately, I have no idea how to give the individual attention each child needs, and especially to the children who need it more than the others. I felt like was doing ok, and mostly in control of things when I only had three children, but when we had our fourth child I instantly felt like the dam broke. Parents have limited time, limited energy and limited recourses. How is it possible for parents to devote this fairly and adequately to a large family? I don't really know.

I remember spending an hour a night on homework with my oldest child. But with each additional child, that is not a possibility anymore. If I have 30 minutes for a child in a night they're lucky and to which child should I devote it? When a couple children demanded my attention, I could usually juggle it; but with six kids demanding it, I am often drained and overwhelmed which doesn't benefit anyone.

I don't want to sound negative; I try my best (at least I'd like to think so), and I am very proud of my kids and their successes but if you ask me, "Do you find that you are able to give individual attention to each of your six children?" I would have to say, "I WISH!"

I think we'll have to ask THEM, say, in about 15 years.


At December 28, 2005 at 10:22:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Chabakuk Elisha: I just saw a cute quote in Bill Cosby's book "Fatherhood":

"You know the only people who are always sure about the proper way to raise children? Those who've never had any."

At December 28, 2005 at 10:49:00 AM EST, Blogger torontopearl said...

An Aish HaTorah rabbi once told his congregants (I was there that day) that he was walking with his family, which consisted of several children (5 or more, if I recall)
Someone passed him with all the kids and asked him, "Are they all yours? How many children do you have?"

He responded by saying something like, "It's not about how many I have, but how many have me."

CE, I have, thank G-d and bli ayin hara, three wonderful children. They often are vying for attention all at the same time. My sister-in-law has, bli ayin hara, five children, who also can be vying for attention all at the same time. My cousin has, bli ayin hara, ten children. Chaos may reign in the household sometimes, but the love and the liveliness within this mini dynasty is something to behold.

We should all be blessed with our one or two or more children in the same way!

Happy Parenting...! (BTW, how's the baby boy doing, bli ayin hara?)

At December 28, 2005 at 12:02:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Cosby gets it! I also remember him saying that if you only have 1 child you aren't really a parent...

Toronto Pearl,

Thank you!
Thank G-d, Pinchas is doing well ba"h. He's doing great and changing by the day!

Indeed the love and relationships in a large family is very beautiful. Since i am not from a large family, I am fascinated by the relationships and dynamics between the family. It is quite possible that I am disadvantaged, being that my childhood family experiences were so different - I cant help but wonder (when I have a quiet moment) how much better served each child may have been had they been an only child - but you correctly point out how much they would also miss out on.
My wife is amazing; she is much better than me at handling the children and her love for them all is downright inspiring. She does come from a larger family and i suspect that has helped her greatly.

At December 28, 2005 at 10:49:00 PM EST, Blogger Keren Perles said...

I spent a month as a "bas bayis" with a family that had 12 (I think?) children, ka'h. Being from a *slightly* smaller family, I found the dynamic fascinating as well.

Three of them were married, and a few were in yeshiva, so it wasn't quite as hectic as it must have been once. But there was this feeling...of completeness. The father would have special times at night when he would meet with a child or two separately. Not that he didn't schmooze with them about their lives during the day. This was a time for personal matters that could not be discussed in front of the others. The kids cherished those minutes far more than kids in most smaller family appreciate the talks they have with their less pressured parents.

There was more, but alas, this is a comment and not a post. Sorry SJ and CE.... :)

At December 29, 2005 at 1:04:00 AM EST, Blogger e-kvetcher said...

In my experience, the most amazing thing that happens when you first become a father is the instantaneous bond that forms between you and your child. Why this happens - who knows? For the woman it is biological; the same oxytocin hormone which induces labor also immediately bonds the mother to the child. But for the man, it has to be psychological.

It is weird because in an adult relationship, the level of intimacy and love between people grows as they get to know each other. You have time to adjust, and frankly, at each milestone in a relationship, you have the option to walk away. But the relationship between a parent and a child is formed instantly as is the intense love for them, and the option to walk away doesn't exist.

At December 29, 2005 at 6:53:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some say that the best proof of how good a parent you were is how your children behave as parents.

At January 2, 2006 at 8:42:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...



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