Reaching for Better as a Young Father in 2020

In the early spring of 2017, I walked into my office in Claresholm, Alberta. It was a commercial space that was open to the public. Judith stood near one of the workstations. I was pleasantly surprised as we had parted ways just minutes before. Bubbles & Balms was a few doors down, so we walked or drove together each day. This day had been no different, but the Tim Hortons coffee on the table gave a clue as to her reason for being there.

'Thank you so..' I remember trailing off as I walked towards her. Her face told me more than the coffee had. Something was up. She was smiling from ear to ear, pushing the coffee towards me with something that looked like a thermometer placed on top.

Positive Birth Control Test Surprise for Justin at Office

My life changed forever.

The most amazing aspect of that day for me was that it had come so quickly! We had waited to start trying. We talked about it. We planned. We went over our life ambitions, morals, finances and emotional health. We felt ready for parenthood, but pregnant in the first month of trying!?! We were overwhelmed with the sudden 'realness' of the moment.

I refused to tell anyone until the Doctor confirmed it for us. We waited through most of the first trimester before starting to share openly with friends and family at our wedding that June. We were outwardly excited, but inside, I was riddled with anxieties.

There were the normal worries of parenthood around the health and wellness of the child, but what scared me most was the health and wellness of our planet and society. When I started to consider all that was happening around us, and what else has come to the forefront since then, I saw a future that was going to be nearly impossible to navigate a child through;

And that list is not exhaustive.

But I did my best to be ready to welcome her into the world;

Justin Prepared for Birth of Child at Lethbridge Hospital

And she arrived as beautiful as could be;

Keira Cuddling Jamesy Bear in Claresholm, Alberta

I have spent a great deal of time reading and reflecting on the issues above since her birth. And while reading, one common thread that I found was entitlement and toxic masculinity. So often, an entitled, extractive, superior, male-centred outlook on the world was at the centre of these planetary and societal issues. And more often again, that male was white. Like me. But I wasn't part of the problem, was I?

I was. And I likely still am. But I am working on it. And have found a process that is helping me be a better Young Father in 2020. I have been using this process to better understand these massive topics and improve upon myself so I can be a better teacher for my children;

  • Informing Myself 
    • I try to learn as much as I can from a number of different sources, paying special attention to those with lived experience.
    • I spend my time listening and paying attention to my reactions, trying to understand them.
  • Looking Inward, Acknowledging Mistakes, and Forgiving Myself
    • I look at myself, and try to find the roles that I have played that have perpetuated issues by laughing or ignoring or manipulating or being complacent.
    • I acknowledge these mistakes, trying to focus on very specific situations, recognizing where I'd failed, and what I could do differently in the future.
    • I work to forgive myself so I can get on with the work of being useful to others.
  • Looking Outward, Altering, and Forgiving Others
    • I work to control my reaction, because I know that I cannot control the world around me.
    • I make sure that I am taking positive action, and mentally forgive any others who may have influenced me in negative ways so as to not carry a grudge.
  • Framing Futures, And Changing Priorities
    • Lastly, I try to spend more time giving my attention to the things that support this new outlook.
    • This means exploring and consuming content and people who are committed to similar values.

I have been doing this with each new movement that is brought to the forefront, and feel like I have grown immensely. It may be odd to say, but I am appreciative of the discomfort that we are currently experiencing. I feel like, for the first time, in my lifetime, major social issues are getting the attention they deserve. The 2020's may be the decade of change that will move us closer to that Better future we hope for.  

We have a responsibility to our children and to our society at large to do the hard work of bettering ourselves, so we don't burden our children with the task. This is a pivotal moment in history, and so much pain can stop with our generation. This is our call to action as Fathers in 2020, and this is how I am responding.

Justin & Keira In Box Tent at Production Studio