Fatherhood in an 8pm Warrior World

Unlike my Mother’s Day post, I can talk about Fatherhood with some level of authority.   I understand that there are many different models of parenthood, but these are thoughts from my perspective as an 8pm Warrior with a wife who works from home.

Fatherhood is tough for me.

I think Fathers in my situation have an impossible mission to be role models in a modern world and have their young children understand or love them equally. Maybe that will change with time (my kids are 2 and 4), but it’s something I think about often and I wanted to see what other 8pm Warriors thought about it.

Here are my options:

  1. Do my best, push my limits, and make a difference in the world (8pm Warrior option)
  2. Get a typical 9 to 5 job and have more time to focus on my family

Either way I feel like I lose.

If I choose the second option, there isn’t much to take my attention away from family on weekends or evenings.  Sounds good, but my problem is that I don’t think I’d be doing my best.  I’ve got a ton of energy and ideas, so doing less than my best doesn’t seem like a way to set an example for my children.  Furthermore, in this era I’m not sure a 9 to 5 job would be a secure position. If you want to be secure, you’ve got to be irreplaceable.

That’s hard to do if you ignore your work on evenings and weekends.

That’s why I chose the first option.   Consequently, I see my children for 15 minutes in the morning and 90 minutes in the evenings before they go to bed at 8pm.  I’m with them on most weekends, but I’m distracted many times.  Yes, I do take vacations, but in the past they were often combined with light work such as the Clear Medical Solutions annual company cruise and other events where I was speaking.

Consequently, my kids prefer my wife in nearly every situation.

If they’re hurting, hungry, sad, tired, or just want a hug they always choose my wife over me when given the choice.   In some situations, I’m not even an option.

Luckily, my wife is an amazing mother and I’m confident that my children are growing up to be warriors in whatever field they choose.  So maybe I just need to stop whining and be thankful.

What’s your take?

Have a great night!

Aaron@Biebert

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Published by Aaron Biebert

I'm a director, film/video exec producer, leader & 8pm Warrior. I am passionately chasing my goals at all times. I'm listening. Let's talk!

15 comments on “Fatherhood in an 8pm Warrior World”

  1. It’s one of two things. One, who is most available to answer the emotional and physical needs of the kids? Two, who is focusing on creating and confirming economic stability and growth for the family? Now, in most two parent households, it is likely that each parent is responsible for different tasks.

    So, if you, Dad are the latter, instinctively and intuitively doing what you need to do to provide for not only the fulfillment of your potential, but also to enhance the stability of your childrens futures, then you are not going to be the go-to guy for hugs and kisses because your priorities lie in securing the revenue stream.
    Knowing this, ease up on yourself, kill the guilt, you’re applying yourself diligently doing what needs to be done and what feels right in your heart. Your head; not so much because it’s scary and inconclusive and there are no guidelines when you chart your own course, you find them up as you go along; it’s not easy!

    If you do not summarily try to make the best of yourself and attempt to achieve your full potential, you will be broken and angry and hurt. Stay the course.

    Now at the risk of pissing some women off, it is a simple reality and dare I say a fact of life that most kids, no matter how much love they feel for Dad, will seek out the physical comfort of the nurturing bosom. From the start, mother carries us in her womb, we hear her heartbeat, we are connected by the cord, we feel her presence in every fiber of our beings. She provides the nourishment associated with our every comfort; she is the embodiment of ultimate love. The female species is geared to provide this benefit to our young, it insures the survival of the species.

    Meanwhile, Dad is on the hunt. He’s out there with the saber tooth tigers spearing the buffalo’s, building the lean-to, finding the leads, making the sales. Sorry, Mr. Penis, you can’t hold a candle to her, so don’t even try.

    You can and will certainly bond in different ways though. Make that time you can spend with them really count, for your benefit as well as theirs, so that you are enjoying fatherhood as much as they enjoy their father.

    Play hide and seek with them, read them Grims Fairy Tales, give them horsey back and airplane rides, sing them lullabies to sleep at night, teach them the difference between right and wrong, show them the goalposts, kiss them, hug them, show them that you love them.

    As the children grow, watch as they begin to identify you for distinct needs where Mom can’t cut it. Though perhaps not be as evident or as frequent as the different kind of love Mom gets, the rewards will be there and that is when the 8PM Warrior of their hearts will gain the gratification and satisfaction he longs for and deserves.

    1. Mr. Friend, thank you for taking the time to offer these thoughts. You are probably right in saying that some of the issues I am seeing are simply the way things are naturally. I’ll take comfort in that.

      Thanks so much!

  2. I too struggle with this (my girls are 6 and 2-1/2). And there is no end to the number of directions I find myself being pulled in.

    But as I wrote this week on my blog (maybe you saw it Aaron since I know you subscribe to it – http://ow.ly/5lcUF ) in order to be a father you have to “BE.” It’s a verb, it requires action and effort (sometimes more effort than you think you can give).

    I’ll tell you though, I can be gone for an hour or 14 hours and if I get home before the girls are in bed, as soon as I walk through the door I get tackled with hugs by both of the girls.

    As soon as I get home (whatever time that may be) and until they are in bed (usually around 8pm), that time is sacred. Some nights there is more time than others but I guard that time like a defensive lineman guards his team’s end zone with 15 seconds on the clock and a 6 point lead. Nothing is getting through there. No phone calls, no emails, no Facebook, no Twitter, no TV. Half the time I don’t even eat dinner until after they are in bed, just so I can focus on them.

    Does that make for long nights and minimal amounts of sleep? Yep. It is rare that I shut down and hit the sack before 1am most nights.

    Do people around me think I’m “out of balance”? Totally. But here’s a clue: No one who has ever achieved anything of substance has ever led a “balanced” life. And to be honest, the so-called “balanced life” is a myth. There is not enough hours in a day to commit the exact same amount of time to work, family, sleep, church, eating, recreation, etc. So everyone is “out of balance” in one capacity or another their entire life whether they are willing to admit it or not.

    It is worth it to be a father, husband, part-time blogger, and full-time business owner? Abso-stinkin-lutely. Despite all the crap that life has thrown at us over the last ten years, I wouldn’t change a thing. Because if I changed something, I wouldn’t be the person I am today and I kinda like who I am.

    1. Glad to know that I’m not alone. You make some good points and I’ll take some time to watch myself and make sure I keep focused during time with my children in the evenings.

      Thanks James!

  3. What an interesting perspective here. Though I don’t really relate to your level (I am still a college student) I often think about relationships. How can I do my best and get the message I have in me while still engaging with my college friends. Just because I have the ability to say something I feel as if I have a duty to do so and often times I feel like my other relationships take the back seat because of it. It’s hard to strike a balance and this sort of reflection is always good to have once in a while. Thanks a bunch Aaron :)

    -Dan

    http://www.whoisdanfonseca.com
    http://www.twitter.com/whoisdanfonseca

    1. Dan, some of my past interns struggled with the same situation. For many 8pm Warriors it comes down to balancing two very important things (People vs. Mission).

      It’s tough.

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. It’s quality vs. quantity right? My partner and I both work a full time job and freelance on the side so we’re very familiar with the 8pm warrior mindset as well. We both barely see our kids and while that’s something we wish we could change, we make the two hours that we do get to spend with them really, really count. We both have a close bond with our older daughter (the other’s a 3-wk old newborn) and while she may come to me for comfort, she’s all about daddy when it comes to fun and laughter. Our roles with her are rather different, but both essential.

    Perhaps it’s the same with you and your family too?

  5. Aaron you brought tears to my eyes with these two sentences:

    ‘Fatherhood is tough for me.’

    ‘I think Fathers in my situation have an impossible mission to be role models in a modern world and have their young children understand or love them (as) equally (as with your partner).’

    Aaron, God made the world in six days and rested on the seventh according to the Holy Bible. Now whether or not you believe the Bible to be a source of information that can help you or that there is a God I’m sure you’ll have to agree that according to the story, a lot of content was created in those six days!

    Your career world of current clients, new leads, blogs, engaging… will all still be there when you get back at it. Chances are if you give yourself a day to clear your mind and rejuvenate with your kids your same business load could be accomplished with some planning. Plus you’d have the added bonus of offering Jennifer some time to do something she’d like to do solo (outside of your home) without having to worry about her children. If Dad is the available one to fix things, believe me your children will be happy to let you!

    If you didn’t have such a huge heart, none of this would ever be crossing your mind. There are plenty of dads who find it out way too late to make a change and difference.

    1. Cheri, I do spend time with the kids, but not as focused as I’d like. Since writing this post, I’ve made some changes and don’t bring my phone or iPad to dinner anymore.

      I do believe in the Bible and was moved by your comment. I am also haunted by the parable of the 10 talents and have an overwhelming desire to use what I’ve been given.

      I’m not sure I could pack one day of stuff into the other 6 days, but I’m sure as heck going to try or just end up doing less. Less is sometimes more than more…

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

  6. As a military wife, I am often called to do much on my own. I’ve postponed some of my plans to be there as the support for my kids & husband. But this is a season. I will have another season for something else later.

    Every marriage & parenting style looks different. Whatever time you do have, I encourage you to be focused. (I like the no iphone or ipad at dinner.) You have to do what works for your family. So make sure Jen feels loved and secure. Focus when you are with your kids. You are the only dad they have, so make the time you do have count!

    You can’t do it all. So do what you can well. Be the dad and the hero in your house first—in whatever form that looks like in your house. Then change the world.

  7. Aaron, I’ve never read this blog before; this is the first post I came across. (Your email address finally prompted me to check it out.) This post was provoking and posed some difficult questions. Unfortunately, I a) am not a father, and b) am blessed to have a more-than-moderately secure job in which, if I ever do become a father, I can create my own schedule and will be working for the most part out of my home, which doesn’t really address your conundrums.

    What I can offer is another perspective as a son reflecting on his own father (I say another, because obviously you too have that perspective) and more biblical thoughts to think about.

    First, as a son… I have often thought throughout my life that my dad erred too much in favor of family in striking a balance between work and family. This may at first seem to encourage your leanings in your post, but the more I reflect not only on this “error” of my dad’s but also on my own reflection, I wonder, would I even frame these thoughts as I do if he hadn’t made that “error”?

    In other words, if he had struck a more even balance, or had even erred on the other side, would I be more bitter in my evaluation of him? Right now, it’s kind of like, “Gee, thanks Dad, but shouldn’t you really be attending to some of your members?” But if it weren’t that way, would it be, “No, that’s alright Dad, I know that your members are more important than we are”?

    I’ve often run through my head what I might say if I ever have the honor to speak at, say, my dad’s 50th anniversary in his work or at my dad’s retirement party (if God ever permits those events to happen). The bottom line is, I would have nothing negative to say. At all. Dad actually DID “make a difference in the world” (as you put it), made the GREATEST difference in the world, by simply being a dad. Especially in our modern culture, when there are fewer and fewer true dads, when love runs cold, you can hardly do anything greater for your children or for your society than to show that the selfless love of a father still exists. And that example helped him in his job too, because people saw that he was honest and sincere about his work – he wasn’t all talk.

    Dad knew what was happening in our lives for the most part. Dad disciplined us. Dad gave us advice. Sometimes he just fished with us and said nothing at all, but his presence and time together was what mattered. And whoever said that “most kids, no matter how much love they feel for Dad, will seek out the physical comfort of the nurturing bosom” may be correct, but I’m convinced that’s because most kids don’t have a real dad. When I had my greatest problems, when I had to discuss my most pressing issues, and most of all when I just needed to know that I was forgiven, I went to Dad. And he was there.

    Second, some more biblical thoughts… Think of the father who made the greatest difference in the world – THE Father. How does he father? You know that from the Bible. What’s your PRIMARY role as a father? To point your kids to him. A question to ask yourself: When my kids grow up and hear the term “heavenly Father,” will that mean for them what it should, or will the term itself cause them to resent God?

    Also, you made a good point that “in this era I’m not sure a 9 to 5 job would be a secure position.” True enough – from a purely earthly point of view. But you also have to remember that as one who trusts in the heavenly Father, you have someone who is always going to see to it that you have what you need. Which frees you up to ask not: How can I make sure that I have every end tied up? but rather: What’s the right thing to do that will best benefit those God has entrusted to my care and give maximum glory to Christ?

    In the end, we’re all different, we might answer that question differently, and however we answer it we’re going to fall short of the answer. In the end we need to know we’re forgiven and righteous in God’s sight no matter what happens. Because only when we’re free from guilt will we be truly motivated to pursue the best course of action day after day. God’s blessings in this lifelong struggle. And sorry for making you read a book.

    1. I appreciate the book and wanted to take some time to digest it. I don’t have much to add other than your last paragraph says it all.

      Thanks for sharing these deeps thoughts with me. They are appreciated.

  8. I can relate to some of the things you’re feeling. I often feel like I’m being pulled in many directions, between the kids, my wife, the home, and volunteering.

    Then there’s the fact that many of the professionals I worked with in the past have told me they expected me to be running my own IT team (of varying types) within a few years. I started off my professional career with a massive amount of motivation. By the time I finished college I already had a good deal of professional programming experience under my belt. My natural talent with computer science and desire for constant research had my peers soon turning to me as an authority on technological matters. I then progressed well at a local aerospace engineering company when I was moved from being a tester to a developer to a deputy team lead of a development team of about ten people. This company was filled with brilliant engineers and I was honored to be working among them.

    Then, when I wasn’t really looking, I got an offer to work at a much more family-friendly job, where the work environment is calm and the pressure is nonexistent. I didn’t think too hard; I took it.

    Now, when I come home, work is the LAST thing on my mind. I can leave it all at the office and focus on REALLY living my life. The benefits are great so my family is cared for, and I will be able to fully retire at a relatively young age.

    Aaron, the fact that you’re asking yourself these questions demonstrates that your conscience isn’t agreeing with you right now, IMHO.

    What do you think your children will remember more: the uninterrupted time you spend with them or the results of your career accomplishments?

    Why do you think those two numbered options are mutually exclusive? Make a difference BY focusing on your family.

    A 9 to 5 job isn’t secure but running your own business is? I’m going to be candid with you because I care: that’s a cop-out, Aaron. I know successful business owners that would laugh at such a claim.

    Give this some serious thought. We should have a beer sometime.

    1. Hi Jeremy, thanks for your candid feedback.

      It’s possible that we have a different set of goals and priorities. My family isn’t my number one priority in life and so I struggle sometimes with the balancing act. This post was reflective of that.

      I’m glad that you’ve found peace with your decision. Thanks for the thoughts.

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