Dads are a different story. They get neckties and tools for holidays. They grill their own steak on Sunday afternoons. For goodness sake, every afternoon I hear a commercial on Pandora telling me that all my dad really wants for Father's Day is a nice new pair of Dockers. They don't get nearly as many unsolicited kisses and they rarely even ask for extra ones too. Whatever love you have for them is always enough. Because a Dad's light is steady and reliable. Even if his light isthe brighest one in the room, it's not going to burn out any time soon.
But boy, oh boy, do I wish I could teach the whole world a lesson and shout about Dads from the rooftop. After spending the last year with a single* dad and his hilarious little boy, I just want people to give dads more credit. The Dad in the famliy doesn't automatically need to be the back-up parent.
So please, this Father's Day (and all days really) let's do this for dear old dad:
- Don't talk about a father of a child staying home to "watch" the babies. Dads care for children and raise children. Watching children is what the babysitter does. So save all the watching for them.
- Let Dad tell silly Dad jokes. I swear all dads, upon leaving the hospital, get a manual on how to be the corniest man around. It makes them happy and honestly, you know it makes you laugh.
- Buy Dad something different. Think outside of the box and give him something that is full of personality. Khaki pants have no personality.
- Remember that Dad love their children just as much as Mom. Love has no definition. Love is love. And it is limitless.
- Respect Dad's role. Don't tell him that he wouldn't understand. Don't tell him that Mom is always right. Support is a good thing.
- Understand that each family is unique. What works in your home might not work in the home next door. And that's more than okay; it's wonderful.
- Sympthasize with the new Dad. There is always so much talk about how to treat a new Mom, but it's rare that you hear about how to treat a new Dad.
- Remember your friends. Relationships shift as people become parents. But being a mom doesn't mean you always have to take another mom's side. And being a Dad doesn't mean you have to think that Dad is always right. Remember who you were friends with before everyone decided to create new humans and try to make informed decisions and opinions.
- Truly think what it might be like in someone else's shoes. Is your dad friend going through a rough patch? Is he going through it all alone? Be someone to count on. Don't assume he's the bad guy because he's a guy.
- Dads miss their kids too. When you focus on Moms missing their children and ignore how Dad might feel, you're selling Dad short. Dad wants to be with his children too. Accept a Dad's feeling as valid ones.
But maybe, just maybe, we can start being a little kinder to the guy who is only going to get a necktie and Dockers for Father's Day. He sure does a lot.
*Single meaning has a live-in girlfriend/partner/carer of all things little and big, who sometimes cries herself to sleep because she worries too much about babies and life and reading and so much more. If you want to know a little more of our story, I wrote about it here on Emily Levenson's Blog.