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Ever since I found out that we were pregnant, I have been seriously thinking about religion, spirituality, and life, and how they each have affected and shaped my life. I don’t know if I would categorize myself as a good Catholic. Probably not. However, being raised Catholic by very traditional Mexican Catholics and also going to 12 years of Catholic School did have a very profound effect on my life, for the most part positive.

Catholicism gave me a set of beliefs, an internal compass; it gave me an identity, membership in a group, part of another family; it gave me scholarship and academia; it gave me traditions and rites to mark not only religious holidays, but important milestones in my life. It gave me the Sacrament of Marriage. All things that I still hold very dear in my life, even though for the most part, Catholicism is in the background. It comes and it goes but I always feel that I am welcome back no matter how long I’ve been away. And when I do come back, I feel the comfort of tradition, of the familiar.

Which brings me to fatherhood and our son. It is clear in my mind that I do want to pass down my Catholic religion and beliefs to our son. As he gets older and his mind develops, he can then choose for himself what he wants to believe in and whether to continue with Catholicism, just like I did when I became of age. I have discussed this with Mom2B and we are on the same page on this issue.

The most important thing to us is to make sure that our son will have a solid foundation of beliefs, values, traditions and myths that will help guide the child as he grows into a man and then to adulthood. For him not to be lost, so to speak, when confronted with the events of life (both good and bad), when facing ethical or moral questions, when having to make tough decisions. In short, I would like for my son to have an internal compass, a GPS device if you will, so that he can find his way no matter where he is at in life.

“The fourth function of traditional mythology is to carry the individual through the various stages and crises of life–that is, to help persons grasp the unfolding of life with integrity. This wholeness means that individuals will experience significant events, from birth to midlife to death, as in accord with, first, themselves, and secondly, with their culture, as well as thirdly, the universe, and lastly, with that mysterium tremendum beyond themselves and all things.”

–Joseph Campbell

“The first fact that distinguishes the human species from all others is that we are born too soon. We arrive, incapable of taking care of ourselves for something like fifteen years. Puberty doesn’t come along for twelve years or more, and physical maturity doesn’t arrive until our early twenties. During the greater part of this long arc of life, the individual is in a psychological situation of dependency. We are trained, as children, so that every stimulus, every experience, leads us simply to react, “Who will help me?” We are in a dependent relationship with our parents. Every situation evokes parental images: “What would Mommy and Daddy want me to do?” Freud made a great point of this dependence.”
–Joseph Campbell

I came across this passage and I liked it for various reasons.  I read it and re-read it, trying to grasp it all and decipher it in my mind.  I thought about it for a few days and even discussed it with Mom2be. I have been thinking of concepts such as the one described above during times that I have asked myself, “What is the role of a father?”  and “What kind of father do I want to be?” 

The passage above just solidifies for me a very important concept that I had thought about, but had been unable to put into words so far–the fact that my child will be completely dependent on me and his mother.  As a father, some of my many roles are to be the provider, the guardian of the family, the teacher, the role model (this is a whole other post!).  Being a father is a huge responsibility and I must rise up to the challenge.  The passage also makes it “concrete” to me the fact that a child’s relationship with his or her mother and father is probably the most important factor in the development of the child. I made a mental note to remind myself of that importance everyday–as parents, my wife and I will be the most important factor in the development of our child. Read the rest of this entry »