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I Found the Secret of Fatherhood

With Father’s Day rapidly approaching, we felt compelled to pay tribute to the amazing men we call daddy, dad, papa, pop, old man and grandpa. I already knew my subject matter, something I’m inclined to think men have been pondering for centuries—what’s the secret of fatherhood?, i.e., how to be a great dad. I could have written about all the times my dad has been there for me over the years or how awesome my son’s dad is, but that is only a tiny drop in the bucket.  I knew if I wanted real answers, I’d have to branch out. So I took this question to the streets:  What do you like best about your dad? The answers may surprise you:

Age 1.5: I like when my daddy comes home from work.

I started by asking my own son. Ok, I know a 1.5 year-old can’t fully communicate; however, I know this is what he’d say if he could.  It sounds silly, but if you could see the look on his face when his daddy walks through the door, you’d agree.

Age 3: I like that my daddy gives me cherries, picks up beans, gives me milk, helps me play blocks and stuff, helps me go poop in the potty and everything else.

Well, that about covers it…I love this kid.

Age 7: I like that my daddy teaches me how to play golf.

I think we all take on (some) of our father’s interests. I inherited my love of music from my dad. And one of my favorite childhood memories is playing a game we called “Stump the Kids,” where Dad would play a few seconds of a record (I’m dating myself here) and we had to guess the name of the song and who sang it. Thanks to this game, I’m pretty sure I could win big on Rock-N-Roll Jeopardy, if it still existed.

Age 13: I like that my dad coaches my softball and basketball teams.

Once they reach a certain age, our children stop calling us Daddy and Mommy and switch to the condensed Dad and Mom. They also develop their own interests and hobbies, separate from ours. You can be the guy sitting in the stands, reading today’s New York Times or you can jump in and get involved.  No offense, Dad, but I’m glad you never coached any team I was on. Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own comes to mind, minus the alcoholism.

Age 23: I like that my dad gives me good advice, whether I want it or not.

Most of us went through a time when we thought we knew everything there was to know about life and our parents couldn’t tell us a thing. I’m so grateful my dad never lost his patience with the teenaged me—he always listened and provided insight, usually in the form of recounting a similar situation he found himself in at one point in his life, “Picture it: Sicily, 1922…”  Wait, maybe that was Sophia from The Golden Girls…well, you get the point.

Age 35: I like that my dad is patient with my kids.

Once we have our own children, they become what life is all about. We hope we are doing the very best we can for them and we are truly amazed at how patient our parents are with our children, their grandchildren. I mean, they didn’t have that much patience when we were growing up, right?  I’ve been told by many that becoming a grandparent is the BEST part of life. I hope to find this out for myself in the VERY DISTANT future.

Age 47: I like that my dad drinks coffee and shoots the breeze with me.

As we get older, so do our parents. It’s a nice thought that something this simple can be a person’s favorite thing about their dad, isn’t it? Growing up, I always enjoyed when Dad would drive us around town and let us ride in the back of the truck. I think he’d be arrested for this act today. My, my how times have changed. Nowadays, we enjoy just sitting on the patio, talking and drinking iced tea.

Age 60: I like that my dad is always looking out for me…still.

This answer came directly from my own mother, whose father is 90 years old. He may be a touch old fashioned, but I assure you there has never been a father that took better care of his children. And his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are STILL his main concern, right behind John Wayne (wink, wink).

After stewing over the variety of answers I received, I could only come to one conclusion: the secret of fatherhood is being present.  From babywearing with a cutting edge ring sling to college graduation, at any age, our children naturally crave our presence, not our credit cards or trips to Disneyland. I can’t think of any gift I ever received from my father that meant more to me than his presence. Kudos to all you dads that consistently show up for your children—it doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. It really is that simple. - Editorial Team

A personal thank you to my dad, step dad, husband, and father in-law for all the good times. - Amy Samuel