The Sacrifices of Fatherhood

24 Sep

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   Today, I am a lucky man. Not because I have a lovely wife, a son, and enough work to support them. Those are all blessings, but last night I slept for seven straight hours. I closed my eyes at 11:00 PM and did not open them until 6:00 AM. I have not enjoyed such a peaceful slumber since June 1st of this year, the day my son was born. Parenthood requires a lot more sacrifice than a few hours of sleep, though, but it is all worth it for numerous reasons. For one thing, being a parent makes you a better person by promoting Christ-like humility, for it requires a constant emptying of one’s self (Philippians 2:5-8).

The son that keeps me up at night is not actually my first child, only my first-born child. In February of 2012, my wife miscarried. We did nothing to cause this child’s death, but it happened anyway. We wanted control, but had none. We were excited to welcome this new child by losing sleep, spending less money on luxury, and diminishing our social lives, but we never got the chance to empty ourselves in such a manner. Rather, we faced the difficult task of accepting our loss. Like so many couples, we know now that we are not immune to tragedy, and that what happens is not entirely up to us.

This time, we got what we wanted. We have a beautiful, healthy little boy with blue eyes, lots of hair, and a propensity to give people the stink eye. We also have a new lifestyle as parents that requires a lot of sacrifice. The usual sacrifices a parent must make are conducive to the family’s material welfare, but there is more to parenting than raising a healthy child. As a father, it is my duty to be a spiritual guide to my son. Every sane father would admit to being horribly under qualified for this job, but we have to do it anyway. We must empty ourselves to Christ through obedience, thus becoming “children of God” so that our children may know Him (Phil 2:15).

It is worth noting that parenting is not all about the child. People often forget that parents need attention, too. Mothers must help fathers, and fathers must help mothers. If the parents don’t take care of each other’s material and spiritual needs, the family will suffer. I want my family to be healthy and safe, but I also want everyone to know and love Christ. In order to help them along, I need to know, love, and serve Christ. As a boy, Karol Wojtyla learned to pray by watching his father. Something as simple as witnessing his father in prayer helped young Karol grow up to be a child of God in a “crooked and perverse generation” (Phil 2:15). My greatest joy would be knowing that I helped bring my family to Christ.


– Ian Skemp


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