Happy Father's Day! A New Father Practices Empowerment

My son, Calloway, was born on November 7, 2017, at 2:30 a.m. It was a pretty rough labor and my wife was in and out of consciousness for the better part of the next day. When she finally woke out of her medically induced haze, it was around 10:30 a.m. the next day.

That night, I struggled to sleep on the chair next to her bed, our brand new baby boy asleep in the bassinet at her feet.

I was scared. Uncertain of how to be a father. And in the aftermath of a particularly emotional and intense election season, I was uncertain of the world into which I had brought this perfect little person. The weight of my responsibility to this child was heavy.

Father's Day

While it takes a village, I knew that baby Lo’s primary education about moral right and goodness was going to be up to his mother and me. It is my job to teach my son what it means to be a man of integrity, a man who treats others with dignity, a man who understands that the women in his life and in the world around him are every bit as smart, gifted and strong as I know he will be.

As I think about raising my son, one idea that I continue to return to is the idea of positive masculinity, which is a familiar concept with a new name that I’ve learned through our work with The Episcopal Church in Liberia. The program there engages men of faith to raise awareness about gender-based violence (GBV) and expand the notion of what it means to be a man by challenging assumptions about gender and power. In one part of the program, through an interfaith collaboration, they are discussing text from the Bible and Qur’an to change attitudes and behaviors that perpetuate GBV.
 

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In another part of the program, male Christian and Muslim youth leaders examine the root causes of GBV and discover ways to dismantle them. Episcopal Relief & Development President Rob Radtke explains it well: “Questioning assumptions enables faith and youth leaders alike to arrive at a new vision of equality – one where nothing has been taken away from them, such as masculinity or power, but where both men and women are empowered to move forward together.”

Modeling this kind of positive masculinity for Lo means that I need to be that kind of man as well. I hope that I am. My smart, gifted and powerful wife may say that I struggle sometimes, but I know that she shares my dream for our son, and together we will do our best to mirror behavior that is respectful and inclusive of all.

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I am honored to work for an organization that also reflects these ideals and continually demonstrates that it values the contributions of women and girls so keenly. Episcopal Relief & Development works diligently to make sure that the dignity of others is constantly central in our programs. I look forward to sharing our amazing life-changing stories with Calloway.

This is my first Father’s Day, and I am happy to report it is filled with hope. I look into the face of my son and I see all the possibilities for his life. I think about those in partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development, and I am excited about the possibilities for their lives as well.


chad_brinkman  Chad Brinkman is the Program Officer for Engagement at Episcopal Relief & Development.

Images: (Top) Youth GBV workshop in Liberia; (Middle 1) Reverend Sie speaking to mean about GBV; (Middle 2) Men's workshop on GBV in Liberia; (Middle 3) Chad, his wife and baby Calloway.

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