It’s in moments like these—a pandemic or a hurricane or a terrorist attack—that we fathers are thrown back into a more primal role. Yes, there are so many things we are expected to do as dads these days: Teaching them to love to learn. Teaching them how to be vulnerable and kind. Raising them to question things, to pursue mastery, to follow the four virtues.
All of these things are important… but quite obviously come to matter very little if we don’t do our most important job: Keeping them safe. Right now, practically, that means curtailing travel and meetings. That means washing your hands. It means keeping their (and your) immune system healthy. That means sending your employees home, supporting the less fortunate however you can, so they can stay home too. It means making sure you have the supplies necessary (food, medicine, etc) in case of mandatory quarantines.
On a larger level though, this is a reminder that many of us have not been taking this job seriously enough. We are complicit in enabling these incompetent leaders who got us into this mess. We looked the other way because “the economy was good.” We accepted arguments like, “It doesn’t matter if a president or a governor or a prime minister is a good (or competent/qualified) person, what matters is if they agree to support the policies of my party.” We’ve been telling our kids that character matters, but we didn’t fully believe it and now we are being reminded of the timeless rule that character is fate. We didn’t prioritize leadership and here we are… leaderless when we desperately need it.
Most of us ignored the warnings. Most of us assumed someone else would solve this. Most of us let others do the talking for us. We didn’t have emergency supplies handy. We didn’t have a plan. And here we are—in danger. Thankfully, kids seem to be remarkably (and mercifully) protected from COVID-19, but the rest of the world is not.
We need to remember what our primary job as fathers is. We can never neglect it.