It’s Father’s Day weekend, a time to recognize the efforts the man we call Dad has put into forming us for a prosperous and encouraging livelihood. While the next post will focus on our thanks to the fathers in our lives, this one seeks to encourage you who are blind fathers that parenting, let alone a stable livelihood as adults should remain one of your goals.
Of course, many will wonder how can someone who is blind support a family financially, emotionally, and yes spiritually. After all, it’s very tempting for people who are fully sighted to transfer that question to a default parental posture toward us who are blind. It’s easy for men, in particular, who do not have firsthand experience with adaptations to wonder how we can play sports, fix dinner on a grill, handle a family’s bank account, etc. Even in our egalitarian society, men are seen as the ones who do these activities.
Well, the good news is that we who are blind men and head of our households don’t need to tiptoe through our responsibilities or defer them to someone else supposedly more capable than us to handle them. Even if we live on a fixed income, we can still balance checkbooks and monitor the amount of cash in the bank. If we have family-wife and kids-we will lead them in many different ways-sometimes requesting help with signing forms or accessing screens that our software doesn’t always read for us.
Yet, like our sighted friends and neighbors, we who bear the responsibility of planning family outings such as to the ballgame or a movie or help prepare our children for college can do these tasks with as much confidence as anyone else. In other words, we don’t need to succumb to two very important tendencies that stunt the maturation of many fathers. First, we may have run into family members or even friends whose coddling or ignoring us has emasculated our ambitions. We may be told at a get-together to let others fix and serve the meal. Some may wonder how we can let go and enjoy a card game or watching sports. That misperception leads some to pass over us when getting a Euchre tournament underway or even talking about current events.
Sometimes, it simply takes asserting ourselves enough to show interest. Perhaps, bringing our own set of cards that have both braille and print on them might make others think twice. Don’t be shy either when speaking of the gismos we use when fixing dinner like talking meat thermometers, locklid spatulas, and bump dots on the stove. Asking our nephews or nieces about how their classes or sports are going will help deflect attention from the perceived impossibility of our enjoying others’ company to the joy we have in it.
Secondly, we need not feel ashamed of our economic status or the adaptations we do make. After all, adaptations are meant to help us join in the same work and leisure that everyone else enjoys. Yet, many perceive them as being accommodations to make life doable for us among ourselves. This perception hits us hard because we live in the world of work, school, political and sporting events. We are just as capable as the next person over to socialize. Perhaps, you’re still learning to grill; go out and hover around the conversation while the steaks are cooking and find places to interject what you can add to the conversation. Don’t take “no” for an answer when folks at your family gathering say they are organizing a group to hit the links or watch your local baseball team on the spur of the moment. If you’re present, the invitation is open to you as well and it can be an opportunity for you to share how you participate with others. Be a caddy for golf. Take your headphones and tune into the baseball or football game so you also can cheer or talk smack with others about the action.
And when parenting sighted children, assert your role as that person who does know best and can model it for your family. Yes, that may mean work behind the scenes to navigate an online bank account for you and your wife, let alone your children’s finances. You can show your persistence in seeking work if you are jobless or diligence with your job if employed. These traits show others and yourself that, yes, blind people can and do parent with as much confidence as anyone else and navigating the same considerations which are common to any family.
If you do attend church that involves training children such as through Sunday school lessons or Confirmation instruction, take the lead in helping them memorize Bible passages. Engage in discussions with them so they can also grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. The more you help them grow in faith and life the more you will keep yourself grounded in the Word.
Here, then, is a brief list of things that can help you maintain the leadership that you as head of the household can do.
- Keep aware of what your kids are learning in school and accumulate the same worksheets and books they have for class. Yes, it will take some time to scan them or download them in an accessible format. But, your children will be grateful when they can look to you for help with assignments or as a sounding board when studying for tests.
- Attend your children’s sporting events and other extracurricular activities with other parents. The more you can share in a common concern for your children’s maturation the more you can pave the way for their growth into adults themselves be it in their educational, entertainment, or religious livelihood. In our era when children are being taught to be little automatons, you can still show them that family informs school, choices in friends, and exploring future career paths.
- Maintain an active civic life. If your children see you voting, attending church regularly, engaging in chess or martial arts clubs which have a family friendly environment, they will see your adaptations as the contours that you navigate rather than tedious necessities to help you get by.
- Show ongoing care for your wife. One of the myths we who are blind have to bust on a regular basis is that we can’t or don’t manage stable commitments well. Helping your spouse prepare meals, encouraging them to do the best at their work, and giving them abundant affection will go a long way toward keeping your marriage well-grounded.
So this Father’s Day, let’s keep standing firm as blind fathers and heads of our households. After all, children deserve to know and love both their biological Mom and Dad. Rejoice in the responsibilities that being a father gives you replete with the leisure, work, and overall care involved.