When a single mom goes out on a date with somebody new, it always winds up feeling like a job interview. My mama used to wonder if she’d ever meet someone, who wouldn’t find out about me and then turn around and run. I met the man I call my dad when I was five years old. He took my mom out to a movie and for once, I got to go too. A few months later I remember lying there in bed and I overheard him, pop the question and I prayed that she’d say yes. And then all of a sudden we went from something’s missing to a family.
Looking back all I can say all the things he did for me, that I hope I’m at least half the parent that he didn’t have to be…Fathering a child is common; being a dad is remarkable; parenting someone else’s child is extraordinary. Children need Dads who are men. You do not have to father children to parent but you do have to be mature.
To become a dad, you don’t have to be a biological father
I recall, two men without biological children, who contributed much to the lives of millions of children. Dr. Seuss and Mr. Fred Rogers, each in his own way, devoted their lives to the wellbeing of children. Dr. Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel, authored 60 plus books for children. He wrote delightful, memorable stories and sold over 600 million books in 20 different languages. I, for one, learned to read aloud from his books. Fred Rogers, Fred McFeely Rogers, created the television series, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. His mild manner, comforted children through difficult issues of loneliness, divorce, war, and demonstrated, by his modeling, how to be a friend living in the community.
In my practice, I ask men, “Who is your role-model for being a dad?” Too often, I get a perplexed look and this response, “No one.” Then we set about, defining the practice of parenthood. Dads, new to parenting, often live in fear of doing the wrong thing or missing the mark. Parenting is not a contest. An honest assessment of the parenting work ahead can be daunting. I recall being fearful about an assignment is given at university. Over a semester we students were each assigned a child to teach reading. We were anxious about messing up, failing the assignment, worse yet inadvertently doing something to ruin the child’s education.
Our instructor, Dr. Wright said, “If you spend an hour each week talking to a child about reading, his reading improves. If you spend an hour each week with a child and you don’t talk about reading, his reading improves.”
Spend time with your child
Showing an interest in a child and giving your time are priceless gifts. Dad-, your provision, and protection allow you to be present and are not excuses for absence. Whether you are the biological father, the Dad who adopted, or got adopted into your role, no substitute will do; your children need you.