Thursday, June 13, 2013

What I Want for Father's Day

I want to hug my daughter. I want to dance with my daughter. I want to laugh with my daughter. I want to be frustrated by my daughter. I want to change her diaper. I want to enter a battle of wills with her over whether she'll eat her lunch or not. I want to fight her the entire time I'm trying to put her down for a nap and I want to stay patient but firm because she doesn't know it but she needs that nap. It's best for her. That's my job. To make sure that she gets what's best for her whether she likes it or not. I want to be a dad on Father's Day. No, I want to be a damn good dad on Father's Day.

Why?

Because dads get short shrift. Nobody expects anything of us when it comes to our kids. Sure, things have changed from my father's generation. We're expected to change diapers and wake for nighttime feedings but no one expects us to be good at those things. Everyone assumes we'll just mess it up. Many times our own wives don't trust us enough to leave us with the kids without help from a grandparent or two. Yes, there are plenty of men who are the stereotypical bumbling idiot around their children but they're just living up to expectations. Set the bar low and some people will only strive for the bar. There are also plenty of men who are very good fathers. They want to do all of the things that mothers are just somehow supposed to know how to do well (and are assumed to do well) and they do them as well as the mother. Sometimes better (gasp!). There are more of these men out there than popular opinion would have you believe.

I'm not trying to be the lone beacon of hope for good dads. I'm just asking you to take some time this Father's Day to think about common perceptions of dads in our society and see if they square up with your reality. If not, think twice about making that joke about how your dad or husband bumbles with the children. Or stop making jokes about the incompetance of dads in general. Or maybe just trust that your child's dad will be okay with the kid if you go out with the girls for a night. Maybe then we can string together enough small changes in the way we think about dads that we raise the bar just a little bit more.

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Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there.
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