For many dads and dads-to-be, having children is a very interactive process. These dads want to be involved. They read books on pregnancy, child development, and parenting. They attend Lamaze classes. They take leaves of absence from work for the births of their children. They get up in the middle of the night to attend to their crying children, thus spelling off their wives. They telecommute or work from home at least occasionally so that they may be more involved in the raising of their children. They know their children’s routines, friends, interests, and hobbies. They attend their games, performances, and recitals. They are dads in every sense of the word. What follows are some brief stories of two involved dads.
“Sam” and his wife were trying to conceive. Sam purchased in-home early pregnancy tests, and he and his wife kept their fingers crossed. Then one day, the tests came back positive! (Note: 20 years later, Sam still has that test stick. It’s a memento of the genesis of his child, that first happy day when they knew she was on her way to them.) Sam and his wife read books on pregnancy, child development, and parenting. They attended Lamaze classes. On the big day (the birth day), Sam was in the delivery room with his wife. He nurtured, supported, and coached his wife. When their baby girl was born, the doctor asked Sam to cut the baby’s umbilical cord. Seeing the oddly colored umbilical cord and recognizing that he was to cut through human flesh, Sam thought, “Wow . . . I might be too involved in this process.” Sam now laughs as he recalls that moment. This then-newborn daughter is now 20 years old. Sam has been an active dad throughout his daughter’s life.
“Pete” and his wife share childcare responsibilities for their two children. In cycles of several years, they take turns working in or out of the home so that each parent can be a stay-at-home parent at various points and can thus enjoy more quality time with their children. Additionally, it helps both parents understand the complexities of the out-of-home working parent and the in-home working parent; this increases their ability to empathize with each other as they struggle with the dual roles of parent and wage earner. Concurrently, the children see their parents as equal partners in their parenting, both parents being equally involved, loving, and interested in their lives and well being.
Children understand love as it is demonstrated to them. Not to minimize the value of spoken love (“I love you.”), love manifested by action is powerful communication. Dads who invest their hearts and souls in their children are a blessing to their children . . . and there is no better return on their investment than the reciprocated love from those children.