Learning from Fathers

Sons and fathers - the mix of identification, rebellion, affection and rejection seems overwhelming at times.

Judaism asks us constantly to learn from the past as we create a newer and better future. No easy task, and navigating the rocky shores of being a son and a father offers me constant opportunities for growth and reflection.

My own father, may his memory be for a blessing, has been gone now since 2007, only five short months after Ginny brought Jude into the world, making me a father.

My relationship to my father hasn't ceased - it grows and changes as I work to bring his best self to bear on the man I hope to be. A lot of this has meant that I must grow past the father that I related to and try to unearth the man he was and wanted to be. Although he is gone and these things stuck in the past, how I relate to them can be dynamic, difficult, and also a source of comfort and growth.

As Jude's father I must constantly attend to my own conduct and his perception of me - humbling how much more important I find that now over almost anyone else's perception of me. I long to be the best father possible and aim to do so not by reacting to my father's presence in me, but by integrating that presence. Dad lives on in me as the father I loved and appreciated, in all his imperfections, even when I may have struggled with him in person.

Learning from the past often means living with it even as we may be more inclined to rail against it.

Happy Father's Day everyone!