Reflections on Fatherhood from Episcopal Relief & Development

Intro: To celebrate Father’s Day, we asked the staff of Episcopal Relief & Development to share how their roles as fathers and with father figures have evolved over the years and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How has fatherhood changed for you over the past year?

“It’s become a lot more ‘present.’ I haven’t been traveling, so I’ve experienced all the moments in my child’s life physically with her and not via Skype or WhatsApp. I used to travel around 2 weeks of each month, so this has changed drastically.”

“Prior to the pandemic, I was on the road a substantial amount of time. While I tried to spend quality time with my son when I was home, I certainly missed important moments. This year, I have enjoyed the gift of time and have developed daily habits that ensure that he knows he is loved and heard.”

Photo: "One of the social-service organizations we joined during the pandemic was an environmental organization that does watershed cleanups. This photo was take at one such event."

How has your relationship with your father or a father figure in your life changed over the past year?

“My father passed away several years ago, but one of the big projects I had time to do in the last year was to connect with his side of the familyextended cousins and aunts/uncles.  I was able to re-discover our family tree and connect with over 200 ‘new’ family members who have shared stories of my father’s family.”

“My father and I are on very different political and ideological spectrums, so it has been a difficult year filled with challenging conversations. In many ways, I feel more disconnected from him, and not just geographically.”

“Nothing can change my relationship with my father, not even COVID-19. I know he is always there for me and he knows I am always there for him. While we didn’t get to sit together and chat over a cold beer as often as we would have liked, he is still a part of my every day via his goofy Facebook posts of chickens wearing dresses, chickens hugging dogs and other sappy things!”

Photo: "Snapshot of a kid in the time of Covid-19 - He is enjoying hot chocolate - mask pulled down and mischievous smile across his face."

Over the past year, what has been your favorite memory with your father, a father figure, your child or other children in your life?

“With all my work-related zoom calls, my daughter has a great appreciation for my work and colleagues. She often listens in on my calls, and then reflects deeply on our work and has gotten to know many of my colleagues, at least virtually.”

“My son is very bright—his brain is 4 going on 14. He is definitely smarter than I was at his age, at least more intellectual. In the last few months, he has become a small person with big thoughts and ideas. I have been blown away by his ability to create and learn. The kid can take a string of numbers as long as my arm and add them in his head. He is reading words and comprehending complex passages. He is telling ‘jokes’ that are really intricate stories about his experiences. He is funny AND defiant. He is also charming. His one-dimpled smile wins him lots of attention. I am in trouble, and I am so proud. I don’t have one memory I guess, but a string of memories that demonstrate his growth. It has been a really cool experience to see him grow into this person I love.”

“Over the past year, my favorite memory of my own children is them getting a young puppy and finding out just a taste of what parenting is like. Of course, in the end, all of the responsibility still falls on me.”

Photo: "My son, my daughter with Arlo the puppy, me and my spouse"