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 Rob Watson
HOMETOWN / WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW? Santa Cruz, CA
ON THE WEB www.evolequals.com
NUMBER OF CHILDREN Two
WORK Stay-at-home father
RELATIONSHIP STATUS Partnered
HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY? Even when I am working, either myself or my partner is with the boys.
HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL? It has profoundly altered my sense of priority. My perspective is that of a human who would now die for two others if needed.
WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AS A PARENT AND WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES? I talk directly to my kids and they feel heard, not talked over. They understand the discipline that I have in their structure, and even if they don’t care for the restrictions, seem to understand their purpose and are willing for them to be there. Weaknesses— I would love to have us doing more family dinners, and do more family baking type things. Haven’t been able to get that orchestrated.
DO ANY OF YOUR CHILDREN HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS? AND IF SO, HOW HAS THIS SHAPED YOUR PARENTING? Yes. Both were drug exposed in the womb. My one son has had night terrors, hyper sensitivity, and language processing challenges. My younger son is ADD, language processing issues. It has shaped my parenting in that I have never taken anything for granted. I have been aware that in many areas where kids seem to “just pick things up”, mine will have to be patiently taught.
IS YOURS AN ADOPTIVE FAMILY? AND IF SO, HOW HAS THIS SHAPED YOUR PARENTING? Yes though fostercare/adoption. It made me realize how little value “DNA inheritance” is to me compared to emotional/spiritual connection. I have a niece and nephew in which I observe my characteristics through genetics. All those seem very superficial in the big picture. In my sons I see so much more… reflections of my heart, reflections of my soul.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT? The worst parenting moment is ironically one which solidified my younger son to become mine permanently. He was a foster care toddler who was in a reuinification program in which he would go back permanently to his birth father. He was 2 years old. The visitations had progressed to overnight weekends with the birth father. When we picked him up from the last visitation he was significantly bruised in many places on his body. My partner took him immediately to the social worker who determined that none of the bruising was the kind a two year old toddler would have experienced through play. The reunification ended immediately. I slept in my son’s room for the next several weeks. He had previously been a sound sleeper, but now he woke nightly screaming and hysterical. Each night I leapt up and held him and cradled him until he went back to sleep. From that moment on, he made it very clear that he knew who his real daddy was.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT? I remember the very moment I saw each of my sons. Neither event was a point where it was a done deal that I would be their dad. My oldest was in an incubator having been born 6 weeks before his due date to a heroin addict mother, my younger was in our care for baby sitting— not yet even our foster child yet. But in each instant, in my soul I knew — we were to be together and they were the greatest relationships I would experience in my life.
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.