The Lydster: Planning for Fatherhood

Chris wants to know:

Did you always want to be a dad?

I’d have to say no. It was never anything I ever gave more than a passing thought until I was about 40 and I was with someone who wanted to have kids.

Before that, I went out with a couple women who had already had children and weren’t going to have more, and that was fine by me.

I didn’t dislike children. I was/am very fond of my nieces, Rebecca and Alex, and my wife’s brothers’ girls too. In the family photos, it’s me carrying Rebecca when we were in NYC. I’d be coloring with her at my maternal grandmother’s funeral in Binghamton. I still marvel that I picked out a nice reversible outfit that Alex wore for a couple years.

And I’m actually pretty good with other people’s rugrats. My daughter is amazed and more than slightly embarrassed by my willingness to distract crying babies on the bus, often successfully.

BTW, dating women with young kids can be very complicated. Usually, she doesn’t want you to be too seriously involved in her children’s lives until she is sure the romantic couple seems secure. Yet she can’t get TOO involved with you unless she thinks you’ll like her kids and vice versa.

Of course, NOW I am happy about fatherhood.

What are some things that you’ve learned through life that you hope to pass on to your daughter?

It’s always this tightrope. I don’t want her to be filled with my opinions about religion or race, for example, and want her to discover for herself. Yet I have learned a few things on these and other topics, and need to pass along some of that foundational structure, without her being a philosophical clone of me.

I’ve done a good job introducing her to the Beatles and Motown, but there’s plenty more to share.

And the truth is that we do think alike a lot, even in relationship with my wife/her daughter. The two of us literally hear things the same way quite often.

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