“Real” dads are truly special
“I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do.”
For years, that was my automatic response to people who commended me for being a single father of two beautiful daughters.
To me, raising Tracy and Amanda on my own was never a question. They were my girls and my responsibility. What else was I supposed to do? Their mom chose not to stay and raise them, so that left it to me. Leaving was not an option.
My girls are the greatest blessings of my life, by far. Fathers’ Day was always special when they were young because I would reverse the gifting process. Rather than them getting or making me a present, which they did anyway, I would buy them a gift or treat them to something special. It was my way of saying thank you for letting me be your dad.
As if they had a choice.
So in my eyes, being a single dad was nothing special. You do what you have to do.
A few years have given me time to reflect on this and here’s where it has led me: What makes being a single dad – be it to one child or many, to boys or to girls or to both – special is that there are far too many dads who are not “just doing what I’m supposed to do.” That makes the ones who do appear special. You follow me?
This Sunday is Father’s Day. It’s a day to simply say, “Thanks, pop.” We thank our fathers for their love and support and wisdom, for the hugs when we needed them, and, yes, even for the whoopins that taught us right from wrong. We needed them, too.
According to fatherhood.gov, there are approximately 70 million fathers in the United States. Not all of them, at least from my perspective, have earned the honorable title father.
The truth is any fool can be a father, at least as far as biology and genetics are concerned. You have to look no further than the daily glut of daytime talk shows to find evidence of that. “In the case of (insert name and age of child here), (insert man’s name here), ‘You are the father!’ or ‘You are not the father!’
Being a dad is not about helping bring a new life into the world. It’s about responsibility and offering love and guidance over the course of 18 years and beyond.
Pope John XXIII was a wise fellow. The pontiff shared this sad, but truthful, thought: “It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.”
Real fathers, whether related to their children by blood or not, are the ones worthy of celebrating. Biology is not determinative here. Love is.
There are fathers who have adopted their children, and fathers who have become dads through marriage. There are fathers who are widowed and fathers whose families have two dads (or more) because of remarriage. There are grandfathers and uncles and brothers who serve as dads.
As long as their love is authentic and deep, no one can deny that they are “real fathers.”
It’s not easy being a good dad.
Fathers have a lot to contend with these days. They have to care for and protect their children from dangers as old as time and from modern perils as well. They have to teach their sons and daughters ethics and morals and character in a world that at times seems confused about the difference between right and wrong (see previous comment on “whoopins’).
As a Guardian ad Litem who works with young people caught up in the foster care system due to neglect and/or abuse, I have come across way too many “Deadbeat Dads” and “Faux Fathers.” It makes you angry seeing their lack of responsibility and refusal to love and care for their own children. It also makes you appreciate your own father all the more.
And then there are the foster dads and adoptive dads. Under no obligation to love and raise a child, they still choose to do so. To Chris and Michael and Fred, know that you have my utmost respect.
A true father never quits being a father. It’s a title with tenure. But at some point, all dads must bear heartbreak and joy simultaneously as their son or daughter finds his or her way in the world. When fathers have raised their kids and see them turn into fine, upstanding, independent adults, they know that they have done their job.
So, to all the “regular” dads out there, the single dads, the adoptive dads, the stepdads, the grandpa and uncle dads, the foster dads and all those who are “just doing what I’m supposed to do, “ enjoy your special day. You are special. To my own dad, “Happy Father’s Day, Pop.”
And to Amanda and Tracy (I know you can hear me), thanks for the best gift a guy could ever ask for – being a dad.
Contact Editor Bob Sloan at editor@florencenews journal.com