March 27th, 2016
Men are faced with an interesting problem when a wife (or girlfriend) tells them they are about to become a father. Paternity ought to give leave to thoughts about a father’s role in the birth process. Perhaps paternity leave for fathers should be offered during the wife’s pregnancy instead of afterwards? It’s an undeniable fact that the woman will nurture and bear the child that both conceived together, for better or worse. However, the shaping of the mind and heart of the infant is the task of both parents.
In Jewish law, moral adulthood begins at twelve for girls and thirteen for boys. The fathers give sighs of relief for the delivery of that soul to its rightful owner. I believe the years between birth and puberty may be interpreted as the ‘paternal gestation’ period. Fathers can choose to avoid or observe the pangs of the actual expulsion of a newborn from the womb of a beloved woman. However, they cannot escape the moral imperative of that child’s ultimate expulsion from their own period of ‘protective custody’, before a son or daughter enters into adulthood and must vie with all the challenges of this world.