Saturday, June 18, 2011

What Is The Value of a Dad? by Maureen Eich VanWalleghan

I have a dad. I have two dads actually. Defining dadhood can be tricky for me because at this point I have managed to make peace with my father and wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings. And yet the father I have known in my adult life since I was in my early 20’s has really delivered in all things I believe a dad should.

My parents got divorced when I was graduating high school. My mom dated a bit and then really found her love when I was around 20 years old. Though they didn’t get married right away, my parents have been together for over 25 years. One of my first memories of my stepdad is him helping me move. He had a little truck and we loaded my things up and drove a few hours to my new home. It was just he and I. I don’t remember our conversation, but the ride was uneventful: no drama. It was a relief.

Next I remember, a few years later when I had my own little truck and I wanted to change the front brakes. At that time, I was in college and really into being a self-sufficient woman. I used to change my own oil etc. About half way through the brake changing process I asked my stepdad how often he had changed his truck’s brakes. He said never, but he thought together we would figure out how to do mine. I loved him for that.

Later when I had sold my truck and much of my stuff and was planning to move to New York City he gave me a pep talk. My mom was very upset and angry that I was moving across the country. My stepdad said that I should go for it and not worry about my mom.

The list could go on and on about the ways he has supported me and my endeavors. How lucky I am to have had the opportunity to connect as an adult with such a dad. Through much of my late 20’s and all of my 30’s I was not speaking to my father for so many reasons, but none that I want to spill in a public way. During that time of silence I learned to see men in a different way and really watched the example of my stepdad “in relationship” with my mom. I like to think that my dad’s loving example helped me in the selection of my husband.

Anyway this Father’s Day I have a lot to be thankful for: a working relationship with my father, a loving relationship with my stepdad and solid relationship with my husband, the dad to my daughter. Dads play such a huge role in the rearing of a child. A mother’s role is obvious, a father’s less so. It’s the balance that seems so essential. The presence of participation is finally what I consider to be the most important piece that dads bring to the equation. How great it is that we live in a time when dads’ participation is truly valued and desired.


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