By Bastian Florian Rohr
January 5, 2023
Before my daughter was born, I was concerned about my ability to raise her. My attempt to resolve this reasonably common insecurity led to a rookie mistake. Instead of simply trusting myself enough to wait and see what would happen, I rushed to address my doubts by researching fatherhood. Even worse: I overdid it, indiscriminately reading anything I could get my hands on about the subject.
This method was, of course, a bad idea on a good day! Almost on par in terms of idiocy as using google to match potential diseases to a symptom you are experiencing instead of trusting a doctor. All it did was increase my stress.
Well, that and insidiously deceive me. The search algorithms being as shitty as they are, I came across all the “insightful” crap you might expect such an inquiry to unearth. Fatherhood, I was told, would not only confront me with my mortality but also turn me into a hero somewhere at the crossroad between Yoda, Gandalf, and Superman, with some extra bunnies for good measure!
I will spare you any further details because the bottom line of every piece I encountered was invariably the same: they all described fatherhood as such a mystical experience that it would magically transform me into a whole new, and often improved, person.
I am ashamed to admit how much of this syrupy bullshit I bought. But if you are fed enough of the same medicine, will it not cease to taste bitter? This is one reason why google is evil. Thankfully, all of these newfound beliefs died brutally when reality hit. As soon as I held my daughter in my arms for the first time, I knew that ability was never the problem, and that fatherhood, like so many words with the same ending, wasn’t much of a thing after all.
I am not saying that the above descriptions of being a father don’t hold any truth. Still, 99.9% of what I read was unaltered, highly constructed, hyperbolic nonsense. Because at the end of the day, fatherhood is life with a little more responsibility and nothing more. You do not stop being what you are simply because you sire children. Raising my daughter for two years has taught me that circumstances cannot change a man’s nature.
Think about it: would you rather merely be a father or a man who brings up his child? The Ancient Greeks warned us about getting our minds devoured by foggy concepts in their famous “Know thyself” aphorism.
So no, having a kid doesn’t make you a father any more than buying a painting brush makes you William Turner. Only the man you already are can do that.