Save the Dads

My first Father’s Day without my dad approaches, and I am inspired to sound off on behalf of dads, because they are precious, whether they know it or not.

Children raised without an involved father are at MUCH higher risk for suicide, violent acts, truancy, academic failure, incarceration, substance abuse, sexual abuse, addiction, teen parenting, maltreatment, trafficking, and mental illness, to name a few curses that disproportionately befall the fatherless.

If you want to inspire yourself to pop out of your chair and go hug a fatherless kid right now, read these stats. Forty-three percent of American children live in a dad-less household, meaning nearly half of our children face heightened risk of Every Bad Thing happening to them.

You’d think our public policy folks would be in an uproar to protect children from paternal abandonment, and to ensure that every measure is taken to support paternal involvement in children’s lives. Instead we get…

Gender wage inequality that financially rewards families who opt for dad to spend more time working and less time with the kids, as opposed to families who opt for both parents to work the same number of hours.

Corporate cultures that reward dad for putting in the long hours to win that corner office, where he can expect to put in even more long hours, because he “benefits” from gender discrimination in promotions.

Public housing polices that discourage dad from hanging in with mom and the kids when money is scarce, because the family is more likely to qualify for affordable or shelter housing without him.

Public policies that give men NO family leave, while Mom can at least get a little time off to give birth and bond with the newborn. She might get time off without pay, she might slip back in the promotion sweepstakes as a result of those weeks out of the office, but she has a parental starting lap Dad isn’t offered.

Not coincidentally, the hero I’m writing now, Grey Birch Dorning, Earl of Casriel, is beset by the daft notion that his primary job in life is to see the family coffers enriched, even if he has to marry a wealthy woman to make that happen. Grey is willing to sacrifice his happiness, his freedom, his everything to ensure his family’s material security. (He has a rude awakening ahead of him in the person of Beatitude, Countess of Canmore.)

What’s more, these guys who think being the family ATM is what fatherhood is about are giving up life-expectancy, joy, and healthy old age when they put in the overtime rather than hang out at the tot lot. The Harvard Study proved that men who took the time to develop close meaningful relationships throughout life were far ahead of their work-obsessed brothers at the end of the game.

That’s my Father’s Day rant. If we value families and children, we need to value Dads as Dads first, and as employees, managers, and wage earners second. To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of  My Own True Duchess. What advice would you have for a dad whose first child was born today?

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59 comments on “Save the Dads

  1. 1
    Brandi Day says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. Father’s don’t get enough attention or respect in our society. It goes beyond the financial aspect. Too often the media portrays them as useless. Boys aren’t taught to be responsible men and fathers. It’s a big issue for me. I’m lucky that I have a wonderful husband who is a wonderful father to your boys.

    • 1.1

      That brings up another issue, which is common knowledge in the foster care and mental health spheres, but kept carefully out of a mainstream conversations: Boys tend to be more emotionally fragile than girls. You can move a girl in foster care several times, and most of them will roll with the punches, make new friends, and get on with it. You can move a boy once, without major repercussions. After that, he usually spirals down, and doesn’t get back up without years of intervention and support.

      Boys really, really, REALLY need the role model. Boys raised by their moms are the bottom of the outcome-pit in all categories. Mom can be Mom of the Year, but she’s not Dad, and that little guy needs his dad.

  2. 2
    Make Kay says:

    Step up and DO half (or more!) of the work. Don’t wait to be asked. Don’t expect your spouse to manage things and tell you what you need to do. Be proactive and split the work. Period.

    • 2.1

      Lordy, what you said! Somebody did a study of couples who claim they split the chores 50/50. They don’t. The 50/50 couples actually split the chores 70/30, and Dad was not carrying the bigger load, even where Mom earned significantly more money (and presumably, worked longer or more stressful hours). That points to the larger problem: What guys sees 50/50 modeled, if neither mom nor dad knows what it looks like and feels like?

      I hope the trend is encouraging. My brothers certainly do more than my dad did, especially the younger two brothers (fifteen years age different from oldest to youngest). My nephews make my brothers look like spuds, and the men my daughter and nieces are marrying know better than to slack off. I still sometimes have to slap my hand over my mouth…

  3. 3
    Amy Ikari says:

    Happy Fathers’ Day! Happy Sunday! I agree with you completely that there is something tragic about a father MIA from the family in the name of career, finances and pursuit of hobbies. I grew up poor but my best memories include the things that we did as a family. I miss my Dad but give thanks that he was a presence in our lives. I love Will and am looking forward to Grey. This family has such strong personalities. I am saddened what is happening currently at our borders and further saddened and disgusted that the Bible was misquoted by a Godless man to justify in humane treatment of children. I believe the message of love as being the ultimate commandment and that actions speak louder than words. If you love your neighbor then there is no excuse for what they are doing and for any politician and political employee regardless of position to do so is just as guilty as those who obeyed the Nazis in World War II. Every child is a previous gift and should be cherished. Thank you for your books that follow that thought. I think of Winnie and Devlin especially. Your books have been read to pieces by me. Have a blessed week! ❤️❤️❤️✉️

    • 3.1

      This is me, swerving the political debate, but I think most people agree with you that the welfare of children should not be a political bargaining chip. Ever. Now I’m just going to slap this muzzle over my mouth… and go write a book about family values, or something.

      • 3.1.1
        Samantha Niemeyer says:

        I avoid politics like the plague, but feel the need to applaud here.

    • 3.2
      Mary T says:

      Amy Ikari your comments about the mess at our border is so right! The only good that I see is that most people are truly outraged by the situation.

  4. 4
    April W says:

    Soak it all in. It’s amazing how fast these babies grow up!
    – April W

    • 4.1

      I didn’t find that to be the case. Other people’s kids grew up in about three years flat. My daughter was a year-by-year shift as she grew more independent also able to get into worse mischief. I was a little taken aback when she left the area at age 18, and part of me will always miss her, but I do know where the years went, and I have journals to prove that.

  5. 5

    I’ve given this week’s blog a lot of thought and have been reflecting on my own childhood and our dad.Me and my sister’s can honestly say our dad was a national treasure.Yes he worked long hours(he was a farmer).Yes he wasn’t always there when parents open day at school came or when scraped knees needed attention.Mum was the one who was there but when he was at home he would invent games we could play him included.My favourite was the train game he would upturn the dining room chairs and line them up one behind the other and we would sit in them he was always the driver and he would explain the scenery as we travelled along moving from side to side as we turned a corner.We made a toot sound when we neared a station,his stories fed our imaginations and we grew up and passed this on to our children and grandchildren.That was a different time in a different era.Today the pressures are complicated and I agree with you Grace the dad’s role not clear or accommodating the children’s needs as a priority.The system puts a strain on parents and some dad’s opt out.My respect for dads who find a way round this and for mum’s too.Bringing up children in today’s world is not easy.My praises go out to parents who can make sense of this sometimes crazy world and still have happy adjusted children who go to create a future.Our children are our future lets not mess this up.

    • 5.1

      That sounds like a fun game! I think we forget that back in the day and to some extent still now, if Dad was a farmer, then the kids went off to make hay with him, to fix the fence, to reset the shoes on the plough horses. Not all the kids, not every day, but you knew “where Dad worked,” and what he did when he went there. Same for artisans and most merchants. All business was family business, until the Industrial Revolution.

      And then came slums, horrific child labor, and the peculiar notion that Dad and then Mom have to go away to some mysterious place (the office, the factory, the warehouse), to work with people we don’t know, to do stuff we don’t understand. I don’t think we’ve properly accounted for the damage those changes did to the family, and most of all to Dad’s role.

  6. 6
    MJ says:

    Years ago, we made the decision to ditch the San Francisco Bay Area for the Houston area. Instead of a 1+hour commute, my husband only spent 20 minutes on the road. There were 22 kids in my 1st graders’ class instead od the 35+ in her kindergarten class. Our town of Katy was much more family friendly with a real sense of community. I would tell new parents to look for this type of community, one that will help nurture your children. Believe me, they are still out there!

    • 6.1

      And now people are leaving Texas for other parts, because “it’s getting too California.”
      I entirely agree, though, that strong communities make strong families, and conversely. I used to wonder in child welfare court: Are we really solving a problem by putting this kid in foster care, or are we moving the problem around? We’ve broken up a family to keep a child safe. How do we put families back together again, when the community itself couldn’t help them in the first place?

      Puzzling. I’m glad you found Katy, TX, and I’m sure Katy is glad you ditched the Bay Area.

  7. 7
    Becky says:

    Yes. Men and women parent differently. Both are needed. I’ve seen fatherless women go on to have fatherless children themselves. We need to interrupt the cycle.

    • 7.1

      And the flip side of that: Fatherless boys create fatherless boys. The impact of fatherlessness is negative for all children, but it hits the boys even harder than the girls. Some of the difference is because a mom’s earning power simply can’t match dad’s in all cases. Eight percent of single dads live in poverty, while 32 percent of single moms live in poverty. If you’re a kid who needs tutoring, counseling, adaptive home modifications, significant medical or psychiatric care, a single mom is more likely to struggle to provide that.

      And yet, 43 percent of our children…

  8. 8
    Teenie Marie says:

    Love them and have fun with them and don’t feel guilty about it. Every moment doesn’t have to be learning experience…your child won’t remember you working with flash cards with them but will remember your hugs and silly *Dad jokes*.

    A family vacation with a broken down car or so hot it melts cheese or a beach vacation when it rains the whole time and you played Go Fish will make more of an impression than the fancy bikes or Ipads you think they should have. It will serve as an example of how to go about life, how you handle that car and if you let it *ruin* things or not.

    Things (or YOU)don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be loving! 🙂

    • 8.1

      What good advice. I recall my Dad throwing the frisbee with us, playing cribbage, and teasing my mom. I saw him night after night scribbling away at his scientific publications, and the few times he put the pen down and interacted with his kids made a much more positive impression. The rest helped me realize the kind of mom I did NOT want to be–though my success in that regard was limited.

  9. 9
    Samantha Niemeyer says:

    A wise and (of course) well written post. Considering that it is men who predominantly run office and make policy, you’d think they’d have been better to themselves as fathers. But maybe that’s more a function of wealth being added to societal structure. Regardless, I agree that we do need to make dads more equal in many ways.

    • 9.1

      I’m considering writing a book, about how patriarchy cannibalizes its own sons. Men don’t live as long, they aren’t as happy, they had a monopoly on combat duty for the longest time… Why? We are the wealthiest nation in the history of nations, there’s enough to go around. Nobody should have to trade life expectancy for an adequate standard of living…
      Complicated topic, but the studies are out there. Men have been sold a bill of goods about their societal roles, and what will keep them happy and healthy. GRRRR.

      • 9.1.1
        Linda Byrd says:

        Isn’t it strange that a patriarchal society reinforces a concept that kills them? This whole idea of men being the providers and working themselves into early graves isn’t good for them but it’s like a rut they can’t get out of (or they’re in a whole so deep they can’t see out). It does seem that this is changing somewhat. But it’s a brave man who stands up for his right to be a good parent.

  10. 10
    Mary T says:

    The same advice I would give to the mother. Time passes so quickly. Think long and hard about what is really important. Keep those ideals before you always. It is so easy to be distracted. Don’t let the world distract you.

    • 10.1

      I especially like the part about thinking through priorities. Once the dirty dipes start piling up, it’s easy to lose sight of what matters, and fall into “pay the bills, go to bed,” mode. Then you’re old and you’ve worked a lot.

  11. 11
    CarolW says:

    I couldn’t agree more about the importance of Dads. My childhood was spent working beside my Iowa farmer father. Like the hard-working fathers you mentioned, he to put in very long hours, but the striking difference in my case was that I got to be part of those working hours. My two younger brothers and I tagged along whenever it was safe to do so. As we grew, our small hands joined his much larger ones working with livestock, machinery and the crops that supported our family. We learned that our work mattered and had value. Our chores including feeding livestock-failure to do so, meant a living thing could die. Maintaining expensive machinery taught us to balance cost and efficiency. Nurturing crops produced income. No matter how hot or cold, tired or wet, Dad’s living lesson in our daily lives was “if you don’t give your absolute best effort, don’t do it at all.” It was a powerful message, delivered daily by his example. As a firstborn and a daughter, it has been the bedrock of my own family. I am now two years older than dad lived to be, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. The lesson lives on.

    • 11.1

      Great minds… When you see what your parent has to do to provide, when you watch hard work right before your eyes, day after day, there’s a respect that “off the counting house,” jobs just can’t build in a child’s eyes. This is an aspect of farm life that I loved–everybody has a contribution to make. Not an assigned chore for sake of making a point, but a real, important, helpful contribution. Young, old, slow, smart… if nothing else you can shell peas, walk the fence lines, pull weeds.

      The other aspect of farm life that it’s hard to convey is the quality of making your fun along the way. You can have a corn-shucking race, a weed battle, or name the animals ridiculous things, and it weaves the work with joy. I don’t find that in other professions, and I don’t find the sense of caring for all of humanity by caring for a few acres.

      I think I might need some farm time.

  12. 12
    Diane Sallans says:

    Patience! Kids will certainly try your patience at different times – it doesn’t help the situation for Dad (or Mom) to get riled up if the kid is already upset or frustrated. My Dad certainly had a lot more patience with his grandchildren than he did with my brother or I – perhaps that patience came with age.

    • 12.1

      What you said. My horses taught me: If you’re in a power struggle with a horse, whose thinking brain is the size of a walnut, you’ve already lost. Same applies to parenting, at least my style of parenting: If I was in a power struggle with the offspring, I’d already lost the upper hand as a parent.
      And often, patience was what made the difference between a productive discussion and a power struggle.

  13. 13
    Priscilla Waller says:

    In today’s America we have so many blended families and that means dads come in many guises. It’s more important than ever to work at being a dad. I would be happy to hold up my husband of 35 years as an example. He came into my five children’s lives when the youngest was 6 and the oldest was grown. He has been there for all of them when times were rough and he has rejoiced in their successes.A “father” is biological but a dad is intentional.

    • 13.1

      You are right that dad is as dad does (or fails to do). I had a terrific god-father who stepped in as I was entering adolescence, and there’s no telling how much sooner I would have gone off the rail but for him, and his approach to parenting. Whereas my dad was distant, pre-occupied, and introverted, my god-father was gregarious, considered his farm very much a family operation, and believed in finding age-appropriate responsibilities for everybody.
      He had a huge, positive impact on my life.

  14. 14
    Gayla Chepourkoff says:

    My father passed when I was 7 but we lived apart from him since I was 4. My advice to current fathers is to step outside yourself and teach larger values. Forget politics. That is only the rant-of-the-day. Forget theme parks. Forget iPods, computers, televisions, wii, all forms of outside stimulation that we are taught to crave. Take the kids to the park. Take them on nature walks Go exploring in the woods, the beach, the great outdoors. Let them see the larger values in nature. That is what will endure. But, most of all, spend time with them. Not with their cell phones, with THEM. Your time and love are the biggest and best gifts you can offer. They will form a lasting bond that can hold a little one together when the inevitable disaster strikes.

    • 14.1

      I’m sorry your dad wasn’t in your life longer than the first few years. Your comment is timely. I saw a post on FB the other day from a man asking other parents whether they limit their teenager’s use of screens. Most parents replied that they did in the early teen years, but somebody else asked the poster: When do YOU put your phone away? When do YOU do something fun that isn’t fantasy football or XBox or screen time?

      Because you are absolutely right: Time with dad, if it’s time WITH him, is beyond price.

  15. 15
    Beth says:

    My father was a feminist before there was a word for it. He loved nothing better than seeing me compete with, and BEAT, his friends’ sons in everything from shooting to academics. When I wanted to play sports and boys had the only teams, he took me to get cleats and shin guards when boys sizes were all they came in. He took on the school board when girls were shunted away from math and science because I loved science, so by God he would get science for me or die trying.

    Dad gave me the inside scoop on men, boys and dating. Dad taught me to shave my legs with his fancy safety razor so I wouldn’t knick myself with cheap pink plastic ripoffs. Dad took me to his office, explained finances and taxes. Dad informed me I was going to college because he never wanted to see me work as hard as a woman did who was dependent on a man. Dad said I was going to have choices.

    He taught me to change a tire, oil, and spark plugs, as well as ID everything under the hood so I’d never be at the mercy of a garage. Dad taught me to drive in his huge land yacht so he’d know for sure I could park anything and “be safe with metal wrapped around me.” Dad taught me to drive a 27 foot standard shift U-Haul so I could move my own apartments so long as I could hire muscle.

    Dad took me for the LSAT and gave up his pension to see me through law school when I came to him complaining about dead end managerial jobs. Dad pinned on his lieutenant’s bars when I became an Air Force JAG. He gave me the money for the deposit on my first house alone when my ex left with all my savings and the car.

    I use the lessons my father taught me every day of my life and I miss him as if he died yesterday and not fifteen years ago. He parented any child that came around our house, fed and clothed a good many more, and taught me to value myself as a woman because he was so secure in his own masculinity. If I could clone him and share him with every parentless child, I would. He loved with a heart that was boundless, gave with a generosity that was instinctive, but also insisted on personal responsibility and being the best you could possibly be. He was a complete success as a man and a father and showed his love every day of his life.

    Fifty-seven years of marriage to my mother and they were still teasing when he died. She’d say,“I suppose he’ll be adequate when I get him trained.” While Dad would moan, “Fifty-seven years is a long time to pay for one mistake. Even lifers get off for good behavior these days.”

  16. 16
    Moriah says:

    I think that the biggest thing is to just be there; people don’t realize what a difference that can make. Sometimes it can be hard when dads feel like they don’t have anything in common with their kids, but it is up to the parents to adapt to their children’s interests instead of the other way around. Also, I hate when women feel a need to point out on social media how awesome their husband (or significant other) is for watching the kids for a few hours on the weekend or when people call dads watching their kids as babysitting. Babysitting is what you do for other people’s kids – not your own and you shouldn’t get brownie points for simply helping care for your kids. Mothers have a lot of expectations on them to be devoted solely to their kids, but as a society, we don’t place the same expectation on dads. I did have a very involved father growing up and appreciate him even more for that.

    • 16.1

      Twenty-five years ago, in divorce mediation training, they told us, “You do not VISIT your children. These are not visitation plans. You PARENT your children. These are parenting schedules….”
      I can sit in my county courthouse today, and hear older male lawyers maunder on about visitation plans… for dad and the kids. Mom parents, dad visits.
      Drives me nuts.

  17. 17
    Linda L. says:

    I would have a new father look to the example set by my husband and two grown sons who are fathers. My boys got the message early on that Dad was a presence in their lives and he put them first. When the youngest was in college he called me at work to inform me he was going to do something I knew to be just plain stupid. I called my husband who called this son to inform him he should make no plans for the weekend as Dad was going to be visiting. A 6 hour road trip, each way, a weekend spent with a Dad and the boy saw the light. That same son consistently puts his family first. He could have been further along on the ladder of success. Instead, he has years of memories of his time spent with his family.
    I firmly believe, as a parent, in Steven Covey’s 2nd habit of highly effective people, begin with the end in mind. If a father or mother cannot see their children at miles stone ages, 6,12,18 and 24, and has no plan then any road will be traveled.

    • 17.1

      Makes you wonder if that, “Hi, Mom. I’m about to do something really stupid” phone call was about doing something stupid, or just making sure Mom and Dad were still, really, truly there.
      And yes, it certainly helped me as a parent to be thinking, “What sort of adult am I aiming for, when I tell this toddler to put her toys away? When I read her a story? When I let her decide what to wear?”
      I was not always the mom I wanted to be, but I surely do love my darling daughter.

  18. 18
    Quinn Fforde says:

    Amen to all that! My husband has been a loving and involved father to our six kids, and you can really tell how important that has been. My advice would be to do everything you can with your kids, the work and the fun things. That’s where the intimacy is.
    But I would like to point out that I see positive changes. When we had our first child 24 years ago, it was still odd to see a dad out in a store with a baby or small child but no mom with them. You saw it occasionally, but you noticed because it wasn’t common. Last week, I saw a dad with a baby and two small kids (no woman anywhere) heading into Walmart. He’d obviously done this before and had a system. I almost didn’t notice, though, because I see dads at the stores all the time now. It has become common in the last two decades. That’s great!

    • 18.1

      Yes, it is changing, and yet, there’s this:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijFnj0KR4vo

      Dad gets up on stage and does the cygnet impersonation because little Bella is having a tu-tu melt down at the ballet recital. Dad is packing an infinck on his hip, while he tendus and plies. The audience claps and cheers because he’s just so darling…
      If that had been a Mom who got up there to dance with her kid, would she have been a helicopter parent? She probably would not have gone viral, that’s for sure.

  19. 19
    Lynn B says:

    I was not lucky in my own father but I have a wonderful husband who is a fantastic father. He goes the extra mile and does more than his share. My grown son who believes in the equality of the sexes decided to give my husband flowers today.I thought that was a wonderful idea.

  20. 20
    Marianne says:

    I believe I might be quoting, but I think the best thing a dad can do for his children is to love their mother, even if, and maybe especially if, they can’t live together.

    • 20.1

      Excellent point. And if he can’t love-love her, and she can’t love-love him, they can still respect one another and cooperate as parents. I do know kids who say their parents were much more effective parents after a divorce than before.

  21. 21
    Frances Hoffman says:

    When we adopted our daughter, my husband was the first to the crib to pick her up and hug her. He has always supported her in her activities growing up, and to this day, he helps her plant her little garden. She loves her mom, but she will always be “daddy’s little girl”. She shares her love and security with the students she teaches in an urban high school, urging them to love all living things.

    • 21.1

      Interesting that you should bring that up, because I’m writing a hero now who is not gaga to have his own biological children. He’s from a large family, can see the nieces and nephews multiplying like topsy, and doesn’t view his own genetic contribution as all that necessary.
      And yet, he’s a terrific dad. He just doesn’t know it yet. Not sure what I’ll do with him, but that image, of a father and daughter planting a garden together, is beautiful.

  22. 22
    Glenda says:

    You are absolutely correct Grace. Fatherhood and its expectations is the one area in which men get the short end of the stick. I would tell a new dad that he needs to make his time count: when he is at work – do his job to the best of his ability, even when overtime or travel is required; when he is at home – BE at home for his child (and wife) physically, mentally, and emotionally. If he does travel for work, stay in contact however possible and talk to the his kids. The children will remember that dad was there for them more than they will remember the things they did without because dad was always working.

    • 22.1

      The French have passed a law that no employer can expect an employee to respond to any email outside work hours. They have a 35 hour work week. They routinely get five weeks of vacay for full time work. There is no provision for paid overtime.
      When I see those memes about, “French children have ADHD at one tenth the rate American children do…” I wonder if it’s because Pierre and Nanette are out back playing croquet with mom and dad, doing weekend family hikes, and otherwise enjoying the company of their parents.
      Just a thought.

  23. 23
    LEIGH HOOVER says:

    ii had a wonderful dad. just my sister and i but he was good to my mother and to us girl
    the when 53 mt mother took a job as superintendent. of a home forchildlren my dad went along and became dad to ove38 children. The kids called them mom and dad can my sister and i became aunts. that was many years ago and when she died at age 94 the Baltimore sun paper did a long beautiful obit. i recently published her ztory in q mothers day tribute and it was in the Orlando sentinel.Mamy of the kifds have come to bisit me here in Florida PL;EASE EXCUSE ERRORS I AM LOSING MY VISION

    • 23.1

      That is a wonderful story. I wonder if I know of the children’s home they managed? I know most of the facilities in Maryland, though we do try to keep foster children close to home, and I’m half-way across the state from Baltimore.
      That they come to see you in Florida, decades later, says your parents truly succeeded in creating family for those kids. What a legacy, Leigh!

  24. 24
    Susan Gorman says:

    Listen before you give advice.
    Be Kind.
    Be Patient.
    Show your family that you love them through words and actions.

  25. 25
    Anne Egger says:

    So my Dad passed away in August of 2000. My husband and I do not have children, but we have two very spoiled cats. In my opinion my husband is the best Cat Daddy in the entire world. So yesterday I honored him. I bought him pencils, an electric pencil sharpener, and a desk calendar for his office. I purchased food with no nutritional value, and we watched a movie with no artistic value. So Happy Father’s Day to all the Cat Daddys.

  26. 26
    Celeste Meehan says:

    My heart goes out to you, Grace. It’s been sixteen years since my dad passed away and I miss him every day. I believe he watches over us, and that gives me great comfort.

    Thank you for posting those statistics, as alarming as they are!

    As for advice for the new dads out there – just love your children with all your might. Read to them. Take them for rides – on errands, for ice cream, or for no reason at all. Learn the new math, so you can ease their frustration, even if it adds to yours. Love their mom, if it’s possible. If not, make that relationship a good example to your kids, anyway. Dry their tears, listen, understand. Be there. You are such a gift to them – don’t take that for granted. Just be a true dad.

  27. 27
    Beverly Abney says:

    My Dad died when I was 12, but in that short time he was great at being one. I believe his example has been with me my whole life, helping me become a better wife, mother, grandmother, and a better, more loving person.

  28. 28
    Ginni Berg says:

    Take the time and effort to enjoy every moment you spend with your child you both will be better for it.

  29. 29
    Diana Francis says:

    I am a person who grew up without a my real influence from my dad. My mom was the youngest of five sisters. My grandmother’s husband died her four older girls were under the age of five. Then she had my mom and refused to marry her dad because she didn’t want him to help raise her other girls. Hence, she raised them alone and passed on a legacy of as long as you have your mom, dads are expendable. My mom and dad divorced when I was twelve, and that ended any meaningful influence he would ever have in my life. Even when he lived with us he really had no real day in the raising of my sister and I. He worked two jobs. He took us to church on Sunday, but my mom never came. She was a different faith. My mom always told us we didn’t need a dad. And I felt that way, too. But, for a number reasons I feel we were cheated. My dad grew up without a mom. His died when his youngest sibling was born.

    I feel an involved dad and mom are treasured in a child’s life. Although financial security and s roof over one’s head is important, the gift of time is more precious. Make time as a family. Eat together. Play together. Give lots of hugs. Let the kids see mom and dad interacting positively. Most of all make sure your child knows it is loved.

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    Linda Byrd says:

    My mother loves to tell the story about my Dad traveling so much that he lamented missing the changes as I grew. He applied for a different job in another country (although he was working for the US Govt) so he could spend more time with me. I was 1-1/2 at the time and I really cherish the years we spent in Dutch Guiana. I credit that time abroad for my ability to understand almost any accent now. He was all about being a DAD and he was loving, kind and compassionate.

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    Susan Lucas says:

    Just be there for that child! Teach them to play ball! Teach that child to make a peanut butter sandwich!
    Tell that child again and again and repeat that they are loved and valued!
    If you say you will do something or be somewhere for that child: DO It!

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    Chris L. says:

    I don’t know that I’d have advice so much as a shining example to hold up in the form of my husband. For all the things that drive me crazy about that darling man, as a contributor to the running of the household and as a father, he is tops. When we both had to work earlier in our careers, household management was evenly split, field trips attended equally, appointments attended in fair shares. For the past four years, my career advancements have blessed us with the ability to for him to stay home while I work full-time. He doesn’t consider this a ‘less-than’ role. He is proud (and I am, too) that he is primarily responsible for managing our home, is the parent who does the majority of the shuttling from school to activity to . . . . . He has been my son’s coach in two (recreational) sports since the kiddo was 4. Simply, he has been present in our child’s life as equally as I. Truly, I could not ask for a better partner in life. Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to arrange such a situation as we have, but it works really well for us. What’s interesting about this is that I feel compelled to point out that I also do my fair share! Isn’t it funny that I feel the need to justify/clarify in that way? The flip side of the coin is that many women, no matter the amount/type of contribution they make to the family, continue to internalize the guilt of not doing enough or that they could be doing more. Something we as a society and I personally need to work on . . . .