A remarkable thing happened on October 12 many years ago: Phil became a first-time father. As his firstborn, I take full credit for the event.
Right from the start it was a match made in heaven. No other dad was as handsome, as smart or as fun to be with as my dad…at least until I turned 13!
But Dad stuck with me. Through fried bologna steaks as I learned to cook, through the unexpected coming together of a telephone pole and the bumper of our small car, through piano recitals where I excelled and dance recitals where I didn’t.
Grandpa and Julie
I’m sure I didn’t exhibit my gratitude at the time, but I repaid him in spades years later with two redheads who are the light of his life.
The impact of fathers on family life is hard to miss. More than 24 million children (that’s 1 out of 3 children!) live apart from their biological fathers says the U.S. Census Bureau. That number is even higher for African American children.
According to the National Fatherhood Initiative
, children with absent fathers are five times more likely to live in poverty. They’re two to three times more apt to use drugs, to experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems, to be victims of child abuse, and to engage in criminal behavior.
- Grandpa and Neil
But perhaps the most important influence fathers have is simply through their presence. Parents as Teachers emphasizes the importance of parents as role models for their children: we tend to parent the way we were parented.
A loving, respectful father engaged in a child’s life is an irreplaceable gift.
If you have one, thank him.
If you are one, thank you!