Fatherhood – and really, parenthood – can take many forms.
In some families, fathers are hands-on parents who love their children, and provide guidance, instruction, love and support to their sons and daughters.
My daughter is very fortunate to fall into what’s becoming a rapidly smaller class – a family structure with married parents who equally share the job of raising her, of loving her, of taking care of her. She is blessed to have a father who spends afternoons riding bikes with her, who helps her clean her room, and takes her to school each day.
But not all children have that kind of family structure. In fact, according to Fatherhood.org, one out of every three children in the U.S. lives apart from their biological fathers.
Family structures are changing, and have been for some time. And sometimes, good dads enter the picture when least expected.
When my mother was pregnant with me, she and my biological father divorced. That part of the family history is hers to tell, not mine, but that decision likely saved our lives.
My grandparents helped her through her pregnancy, and they – as well as my uncle – were on hand to get her to the hospital when she went into labor, picking up the slack in the “father” role. Those three people were pivotal in the early months – and really years – of my life.
And when I was six months old, my mom met my dad. Biologically speaking, he’s my stepdad. When my parents met, he was only 21.
Think back to when you were 21. Would you be willing – or ready – to take in someone else’s infant? But that’s exactly what he did.
That man became my dad. He raised me as his own, helping me make decisions, teaching me, walking me down the aisle when I got married.
In fact, when people would see us together, they often commented on how similar my dad and I looked, which I now think likely relates back to mannerisms more so than physical attributes.
My biological father has never made an appearance or an effort in my life – in fact, I’ve never met him. But my dad? He’s the one who raised me, who matters in the grand scheme of my life.
Not every family looks the same as the one next door. Every family has a different story – some are traditional, two-parent homes. Others have two parents, who may or may not be married, who may or may not fit the traditional gender roles we grew up seeing in Dick and Jane books. Others are single-parent homes, with one parent who may or may not be in the picture. Others have multiple father figures who stand in when others can’t or won’t.
To my husband, Matt, to my dad, Bruce, my father-in-law, Glenn, and to all of you who became dads to someone, in some way, shape or form, happy Father’s Day. Thanks for all that you do.