In 1st Generation Dad, Everyday Life, Parenting
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don’t have that voice in my head.

Oh, there are voices in there, but not that one. What’s odd is that the void is noticed, instinctively. What’s not there screams out, because it’s supposed to be there.

It’s a voice that I often imagine. It would show up randomly, from somewhere in the past. From exactly where? I don’t know. It feels like a late afternoon breeze infringing on a hot day, bringing with it refreshment and a brief respite; enough so that I’m compelled to look up, turn my face to it and catch a fresh perspective. In times of doubt it speaks with a confidence strong enough to straighten the spine and steady my steps. It tells me what I need to hear…when I need to hear it.

I also imagine it’s a voice gentle enough to grant the choice to ignore it. It’s fleeting; there one moment and gone the next. The words offered fade quickly; better write them down because the doubts it carries away will be back. (“Did I really hear that?”) Its words are measured and never provide complete answers. Instead it offers wisdom and guidance, purposely stopping short of resolution. All finalities are left up to me to choose and learn from. Guidance, not resolution; that may be its greatest value.

I’m a 1st Generation Dad, figuring it out one day at a time.”

I don’t hear the voice, nor in my imagination know its origins…but I do know its name. The voice that’s not there is the voice of a father: my father, grandfathers, uncles who were fathers, and every other father I’m related to. I have memories of some of these men, rich and palpable, but cannot hear their voices. It’s not that I don’t want to listen, or have rendered them mute, this voice is simply not there.

This is not a sob story or a plea for sympathy. I’m a 45 year old adult, a husband and father of four, with a responsibility to my family. No room for excuses or blame shifting. I’m a 1st Generation Dad, figuring it out one day at a time. No paternal foundation to build from. No shoulders to stand on. No instilled principles, life lessons or disciplines to go on. But I am a Dad…and it’s my job and determination to figure it out.

Back to the voice…I recognize there are other voices, heard occasionally, that have a similar ring. A coach barking team concepts and the importance of focus and doing my job. A high school classmate’s instructions on how to shave. A boss’s advice on how to get promoted. It’s in the lyrics of a popular song and calls out from every page of a book I read every day. But being a Dad is a 24/7 deal and as much as these other voices are appreciated, no person fits this void.

1st Generation Dad is a series about how I am filling this void. What needs to be heard and what needs to be said, becoming that voice for my children. It will be about the influences being deliberately pursued, the lessons being learned, the lessons being taught, about the mistakes being made. It will be as much about learning on the job as it will be about seeing children as gifts and the privilege a Dad has to nurture their growth.

It will be personally humbling and necessary…

It will also be funny…at least I’ll try to make it so. The tone of this intro matches the overall importance of the topic, serious. But if you know me (personally or through Full of Days) and my family, then you already know there will be plenty of material for comic relief – and we have no issue sharing!

Based on many friendships over the years, and volumes of studies and stats, I know that I’m not alone in realizing this void. There’s also a growing sense among my generation, and those following, of the importance to stop a cycle and instead begin a proper legacy.

I invite you to join in this discussion; men who can relate, young adults who already recognize a similar spiritual, emotional, and/or physical void, single parents (Moms or Dads) trying to fill two roles, significant others who want to better understand the struggles of those they love.

And to the families who read 1st Generation Dad and think “how blessed am I” because they have those generational voices in their life; please join in. I, we, need to hear your stories and real life accounts of how it is supposed to work!

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    As I read, I heard my Dad’s voice. So often, I hear it… Tammy, be quiet, Tammy grab me that wrench, Tammy that is too much tape. Silly words, but words. The voice that instilled fear and respect, the voice that if raised to this day, instills fear and respect. and then there are the quiet words, I love you, not uttered very many times in my life, but known. So, often I hear the voice, the voice of my Dad. Many times the voice of reason in this head of mine, many times the voice that instilled confidence, and held me back from making a mistake. I never realized how often I hear that voice, thank you for reminding me to take the time to listen!

    • Jason Steffen
      Jason Steffen

      Tammy, thank you for sharing. So glad to know you recognize your Dad’s voice – it is special!

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