“No man can possibly know what life means, what the world means, what anything means until he has a child and loves it.” – Lafcadio Hearn
It came as a complete shock to me last week when the SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson, when society had come to accept Roe v. Wade as settled case law. Having recently published about conservatives spurning decisive action for gentility, and having watched the courts refuse to touch it for fifty years, I didn’t see them interpreting law along constitutional grounds if it risked the status quo.
I agree that the court’s decision is the correct interpretation of the Constitution on matters of abortion. There is no provision that hands bodily autonomy to the Federal Government to regulate. Constitutionally, those things not explicitly given to the Feds go back to the member states of the US. The most detrimental aspect of this ruling is that it took so long for the courts to address it, and thus many conservatives will feign outrage over upsetting the status quo. That is a conservative forte.
A few weeks ago on Father’s Day, I republished a piece about fatherhood and I lamented society tearing down men and traditionally masculine roles. I sang the praises of the family as the base unit of society and how God’s design was incomplete without men and women working in concert to raise better humans. Typically, the nature of the abortion conversation tends to generate a lot of press around women and women’s rights and completely ignores the responsibility that men and young men hold in this conversation. In light of last week’s SCOTUS ruling, I think it’s important that we now address the responsibilities of men as it pertains to the abortion conversation.
For those young men who aren’t yet faced with family planning…
You are in a pivotal time of your life. From this point on, you have the ability to shape your future, but you are also responsible for your actions. If you have career goals and dreams, pursue them with excellence. For the first time, you’re probably exploring courtship and dating, and this can be a good thing. Though the excitement may try to convince you otherwise, every young woman that you get to know from this point forward isn’t likely your life partner. Every young woman that you get to know from this point forward is also someone’s daughter, and potentially also someone else’s future spouse. Honor her and honor them with your actions.
They say that it takes two to tango. Short of the Lord Jesus, there is no alleged case of immaculate conception outside of the God of the Universe. No young or grown woman will ever bear a child without the introduction of a man’s contribution to the equation. Women often face scorn for decisions that young men hold half of the responsibility for. Be selective in your dancing partners. God’s design makes for the best dancing when you’ve chosen someone with whom you can dance for life.
For those who are currently faced with family planning…
So you’re in a new and precarious position. You danced with someone without dancing shoes, and you’ve made it to the bonus round. You’ve got a terrible feeling in the pit of your stomach because you just got the news that your dancing partner is pregnant. Life as you know it is forever ruined. Or is it?
Every human being on the planet came into existence in the same way as you did. You’re not only not alone, your circumstances aren’t exceptional. My mother was the product of teenage pregnancy and adoption. She became a mother herself as a teenager. Parenthood is a normal part of life, though we enter into it at different stages. Your job at this moment isn’t to convince your partner that you made a mistake that she and your unborn child must pay a toll for. Your job from here on out is to support her.
The two of you may not feel equipped to handle your circumstances and want the quickest way out. There is no shortage of adults who want to support you at this moment. My advice would be to seek out the counsel of trusted adults. Parents, teachers, coaches, Sunday School teachers, pastors, etc. are a great starting point.
For new dads who feel they are in over their heads…
I didn’t become a father until I was thirty-two years old. Like many in my generation, my wife and I postponed having a family for career advancement. Early in my marriage, I would tell people that a five-year plan to learn how to be a married couple before starting a family is a good idea. Having reached forty and not having the energy that younger parents do to keep up with their kids, my advice has shifted on the subject. I still think it’s a good idea to give your marriage time before starting a family if possible, but I tell people to get married and start families younger. You’re already ahead of the curve.
I have spent much of my career furthering my wife’s career as a community pediatrician. During the first year of my oldest child’s life, we had a nanny and I worked remotely from my home office. We spent a lot of money to have someone available to them while I was in the next room over. I committed to leaving my job and keeping my youngest for the first two years of life after that. There are a lot of things grown men have to learn, like changing diapers, feeding babies, nap times, dealing with crying, sleepless nights, etc. I promise you that these things don’t last long.
Having children at a young age is not career-ending, and you still have a world of opportunity in front of you. I know many successful people who put family before career advancement and are highly successful in their respective fields today. From doctors and lawyers to successful businessmen and women, you can still do and be whatever you want. Don’t neglect the most impactful role you will hold on this earth.
I have worn many hats in my short time on earth. Of all the hats that I have worn, none has given me as much fulfillment as being a dad.
Becoming a parent is not easy. In fact, it’s quite hard. It is easily the least selfish thing that you will ever do. If you are a father-to-be or young father and feel lost or just need a word of advice, seek out trusted counsel. If all else fails, shoot me a message at [email protected]. I don’t promise to have the answers, but I’m willing to listen.