A father is a son's first hero and a daughter's first love
With two weeks to go before Father’s Day, I thought it proper to start out with a simple shout out to all the Dads out there showing the world how it’s done. What you do is amazing considering how the world has done its best to make us our worse. We, as a society, have been bombarded with multitude of failed images of what a father figure is. From the authoritarian distant patriarch who’s presence is felt only with the fearful words “Wait till your father gets home,” to the workaholic father who’s presence is only felt by the family’s bank account, to the bumbling idiot dad who’s little more than another child within the family, to the dead beat dad who, to this day, I have no idea why the term dad is even included in the name. Modern Dads, just like the modern Gentlemen, have come to prove just how good men can be when we chose to ignore all the negative images thrust upon us.
But what is the Modern Dad?
For starters, he is a Dad, an equal partner in his child’s development. No longer can we accept being treated as Mom’s Assistant, which also means that no longer can we behave like Mom’s Assistant. For years men have felt the guilt of not being there for their children as society placed the burden of work on the man and the burden of parenting on the woman. No more! Gender equality means that we should not be forced to ignore our kids over a client. Clients and projects come and go. A neglected kid’s resentment and your personal guilt of not being there lasts forever. More so, some men are even given the blessed opportunity to be the main caregiver as stay-at-home dads, be it by choice or by necessity. Note I refuse to use the term Full time dad or mom as a parent should always be a FULL-TIME PARENT.
This is especially important when the parents are no longer married. You have just as much a right to your child’s time as the mother, and are just as important in your child’s development. This is still a challenge in a system that so often views a Dad’s participation after a divorce to a monthly check and what used to be an everyday interaction between father and child is reduced to as little as seeing your kid 4 days (two weekends) a month. Then we wonder why the suicide rate among men is so high the first year after a divorce.
Secondly, we have realized just how much fun having a kid can be and how much you can share when you’re an active participant to their lives. That distant authoritarian figure of the old “Father Knows Best” only works to alienate and isolate you from your family. Dad’s today are just as active as their kids, and as involved. You see it in the dad who takes his kid to the park in spite of the weird looks from some of the moms who think he’s possibly some perv. You see it in the dad who will proudly wear a nail polish, a tutu, and a tiara or maybe a cape and a mask if it makes his kid happy. And they’ll go out in public like this, head high, knowing that the only approval they need in life is that of their children.
Third, we have realized just how much of an influence as a mentor we can be to our kids. Fatherhood has turned the most irresponsible man-child into the most respectable of men, simply with the knowledge that you are an example to your kid. We try to change the world into a better world for our children, we start treating others as we would want them to treat our kids. More importantly, we are awakened to just how much of a selfish asshole we have been in life, and get a magnifying glass placed over other people’s self-centeredness.
Lastly, we realize just how simple and beautiful life can be, and just how important we are as a person. We become their ultimate cheerleader, supporter, approver, and fan. We realize that the title father deserves only as much respect as you do as a person, and respect is earned. Funny thing is how becoming important in someone else’s life actually humbles you as a person.
I know that it might sound cliché, but having a son or daughter will redefine the man you are and the man you should be. Make sure that when you redefine yourself, you do so into the kind of Dad your children deserve.
That being said, Gentlemen… #DadUp!