Father’s Day Isn’t Just For Fathers

So much has been written or reported about deadbeat dads. You’ve heard the stories about the man who fathered seven children by three our four different women and failed to pay child support or, for that matter, pay any attention to his offspring.

But what about the men who step up to the plate and do the right thing by their children.

Whether married, single or divorced, there are plenty of guys out there who “get it” when it comes to being a dad.

No one has to tell them that their children need new shoes or braces. They don’t need Dr. Phil lecturing them on the importance of hugging their children and telling them they are loved. They are part of a generation that isn’t afraid to show their kids that they are human.

Dads today are allowed to cry when they are hurting, sad or scared. It’s OK that they share their feelings with their families when times get tough or the economy keeps pushing the pay envelope.

The other evening on one of my walks about town to exercise these 57-year-old bones, I saw signs that fatherhood is still alive and doing well.

The steady sound of a softball hitting a gloved hand caught my ear before I saw the dad catching his daughter’s impressive pitches. It was late evening and I’m sure that guy had put in a full day’s work before heading out into the yard with his daughter. He probably never misses his daughter’s games if at all possible.

Another dad was casually pushing his baby girl’s stroller filled with stuffed animals. Nothing about this threatened his masculinity. He was simply taking care of his little girl.

Down the street, a young family – mom, dad, and several youngsters in tow – were walking hand-in-hand toward the neighborhood playground.

I’ve noticed more and more dads and kids at the playgrounds on weekends.

Some of the best “dads” I’ve ever met never fathered a child. We were fortunate to have a wonderful aunt and uncle who lived in Moundsville. They were never blessed with children but they both enjoyed being a part of our lives, including taking me and my siblings on trips to Kennywood or the German Village in Columbus, Ohio.

My uncle, we called him “Foxie,” had some interesting hobbies and shared his talents with us when we visited. He loved to show us his latest project and was generous with encouragement when we tried our hand at some of his crafts.

I have known several wonderful male teachers over the years who treated their students better than their own dads did. Sometimes these teachers are the only male role models some boys are exposed to during those trying middle and high school years. They often are under appreciated for what they mean to our kids.

There are many more. The coaches, Scout leaders, clergymen and camp counselors who give their time to our children may not be fathers, but they have a place in their lives.

This Sunday is a good time to say thanks to all the dads and non-dads who just “get it.”

Happy Father’s Day to all.