Welcome to Portraits of Fatherhood: We’re telling the story of today’s dads.
There is no better place to witness the changing roles of men and women in the larger culture than through the lens of parenthood. But rather than speculate on what and how contemporary fathers do what they do, we’d like to bring you portraits of the dads themselves. In their own words. Would you like to be interviewed for this feature? See the end of the post for details.
NAME Patrick Roth
HOMETOWN / WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW? Austin, TX
NUMBER OF CHILDREN Two; boy, 14 and girl, 17.
WORK Full time; Financial Analyst at University of Texas at Austin
RELATIONSHIP STATUS Married 11 years
HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?
When our daughter was younger, I was a SAHD for ten years. I went back to work when she started middle school. Our son came to us just before he turned 13 and I was already working. My husband works full time from home and my mother lives with us, so there has always been an adult in the house.
HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?
Parenting has opened me up to a level of selflessness I could not have imagined before I became a father. While I certainly make time for myself and my marriage, my first thought is always to what is best for my family and children. It has also taught me a level of patience and self-control I certainly never had when I was younger.
IF PARTNERED, HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
Since our kids are older, we have more time to ourselves and each other now. At the same time, we have two teens and a parent in the house, so we sometimes have to sneak off to be intimate. Oh, the irony of two openly gay men going into the closet to fool around! Fortunately, it’s a large walk-in, so there’s plenty of space!
WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AS A PARENT AND WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?
I think my ability to talk about any subject (like sex) with an open, honest voice is a great strength, especially with two teens. Being able to continually find the depth of patience needed to be a truly great parent is a major weakness of mine. You can only take so many deep breaths before you pass out!
IF PARTNERED, WHAT ARE YOUR PARTNER’S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?
My husband is very practical and dependable and has the greatest work ethic I’ve ever seen. He is a tremendous role model for our children in that regard. On the other hand, he tends to get more upset over the little things that he should probably learn to let slide.
WHO ELSE PROVIDES CHILDCARE FOR YOUR CHILDREN?
Our kids are too old to need child care, but having a live-in parent (my Mother) ensures there aren’t any impromptu parties springing up when my husband and I are having some relationship time away from home.
DO ANY OF YOUR CHILDREN HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS? AND IF SO, HOW HAS THIS SHAPED YOUR PARENTING?
My daughter has some fairly substantial behavior challenges. I’ve had to learn how to engage her, or rather, not engage her when these are taking over. Traditional parenting techniques simply don’t work with her. For the most part, I’ve learned to parent the child I have, rather than the child I want her to be. It’s an ongoing struggle however.
IS YOURS AN ADOPTIVE FAMILY? AND IF SO, HOW HAS THIS SHAPED YOUR PARENTING?
Both of my kids are adopted; my daughter at 3 weeks and my son at 13 years. While we are a true family in every sense of the word, I’ve always been careful to be respectful of their history and their biological families. They each have some level of contact with them. My daughter in particular is a very interesting study on the nature vs. nurture argument. I see myself in her in many ways, and her mother (who she’s never spent time with) in many other ways. Ultimately, adopted kids learn that their parents are the ones who love and care for them on a daily basis.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?
Allowing my children’s drama to get the better of me and losing my own self-control is the worst. I’m as human as the next guy and can sometimes get angry and yell — or say things I really don’t mean. Fortunately, it is very rare that I allow that to happen.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?
My best moments come when I’m doing the things that define parenthood: teaching my child to drive, helping them to fill out a job application, explaining the importance of savings and credit. Whether it’s work, school, sex or whatever, I’ve always tried to impress upon them that I expect just two things of them – to be responsible and respectful. If they can manage those two things, then everything else will fall into place. Doing my best to prepare them to take off on their own someday, and leave the safety and security of my home, is when I really feel I’m doing well. That’s when I feel I’m being a good father.
We’re looking for a few good dads.
IF you’d like to be interviewed for this feature, please write to Lisa Duggan at: [email protected]
Please write “Portraits of Fatherhood” in the subject line.