What to Expect When Expecting: How about a Dad?

Dear Aimee,

I recently saw “What to Expect When Expecting” and thought it did a good job of showing how a Dad can be involved in the birth and the raising of a child.  But Dads still don’t get the respect they deserve in our society.  Any thoughts on why that is?

Curt- Cordell, OK

I have not seen this movie, but I have read the book cover to cover when I was pregnant with my first son.  I’m guessing the movie has taken some creative liberties.  Seeing how there was absolutely no plot or story line in the written version.  Your question intrigued me because you are right.  Society has a great interest in the role of the mother.  Is she staying at home? Is she working?  Can she divide her time effectively?  Mother’s Day is better than Christmas to the greeting card industry, and this matriarchal holiday garnishes one-fourth of all flower sales.  How does Father’s Day measure up?  Good old dad only receives about 60% of what is spent on mommy dearest.  Why is that?  Statistics reveal that approximately 4 out of every 10 children will go to sleep tonight in a home where the father is absent.  So that sad fact alone could account for the depressed Father’s Day sales.  Perhaps this knowledge and acceptance of absentee fathers has created low expectations about dad and his place in the family.  We could have a deeply introspective and enlightening debate about the fatherless generation over chai tea lattes and still walk away shrugging our shoulders.  The why’s and how’s could fill an ocean, fed by the tears of countless children’s heartaches and disappointments.  What can be done? The one place you can have an immediate effect is in the lives of those around you.  Whether they are your own flesh and blood, adopted kids, step-children, or fatherless kids that have been placed in your path; you alone can start raising the bar for what a father should be.  There is a song that my siblings and I chose to play at my father’s funeral back in 2004: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel. My dad always loved that song and in retrospect I think it was his anthem, a melodic reminder of his chosen role in our lives.  Dad may not ever get the flowers and the mushy cards like Mom, but where a mother feeds the heart with love and compassion, a good father gives the soul the foundation it needs to feel secure navigating across this world’s often dark and turbulent waters.  Being a Dad isn’t just about biology, sometimes it’s simply geography.  Someday you may get an unexpected Father’s Day card from a boy, not because you were his biological father, but simply because you were the Dad that was there.

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