You remember the famous scene from Breaking Bad. Walter has messed up his life. He is struggling. He meets Gus Fring, who is all the things he is not: Secure. Confident. Powerful. Gus gives him a speech that puts a spine in Walter, that both inspires him and rationalizes everything he is being tempted to do:
“And a man,” Gus says, “a man provides. And he does it even when he’s not appreciated, or respected, or even loved. He simply bears up and he does it. Because he’s a man.”
Now we can put aside the twisted context that both men engage with this idea in. We can put aside some of the gender-role implications as well. Even then, there is value in this, especially as fathers.
What does a father do? He provides. You mean financially? Sure, if that’s what his particular situation requires. But a better way to put it is this: A father provides, period. A father provides what his kids need, whatever that is. A father provides love, provides structure, provides a good example, provides an available ear, provides books, provides protection, provides the benefit of the doubt, provides someone who believes in their kids, no matter what.
We do this because it’s our job. We do this because no one—no government, no school, not even a spouse—can do this for us. We do this whether our kids appreciate it in the moment, we do this whether it is met with approval or recognition by other people. We do it because it’s right. We do it because we love it. We do it whether our own parents did it or not.
We do it because we were born to do it.