Attend a school or music recital at any of our schools, stop by Brennan Park Recreation Centre or walk down any Squamish street and you are bound to see a father supporting or spending time with his kids — often he’s pushing a stroller or riding a bike with a child attached.
To be clear, dads have always mattered.
My best friend in high school in the 1980s lived full time with her single dad.
When I was a kid, my own father stood by the boards watching me figure skate and attended parent-teacher nights.
Without a doubt, there’s a straight line from my dad asking my opinion at the dinner table, taking me hunting and fishing and listening when I told him about my day, to me writing this column now. The world tells you that you don’t matter, dads (and moms) tell you that you do, and that sticks somewhere deep and gives us a voice.
But there were limits to what you would see dads doing back in the day.
Even my progressive, hippie dad would not have been able to attend a middle of the day assembly, dentist appointment or recital. That was all moms.
Had a dad asked to leave work for kindergarten graduation, or for a child’s illness, his employer would likely not have looked kindly on the request.
It just wasn’t done.
When my kids were little and their dad got up to tend to them in the middle of the night, my mom was shocked. She never thought about my dad doing that. Though she had jobs over the years, those were seen as secondary to her main job as a mom.
The culture has changed, as it needed to.
Children benefit greatly from a dad’s direct involvement, studies show.
Fathers’ active care of difficult-to-raise preschoolers was related to children having fewer problems as grade-schoolers, in a 2002 University of Notre Dame study. Other studies point to children doing better emotionally and academically when they have dads who engage. Teen pregnancy rates and delinquency too are related to how involved a father is.
Anecdotally, because my partner has been there to hold our sons’ hands at scary dental and doctor’s appointments, to read stories, to hold the puke bucket in the middle of the night, attend no end of school events, and dry tears, I know the boys are better for it.
Divorced dads who don’t live with their kids can still have an important impact if they are interested and engaged, studies show. (Google “peer-reviewed studies of the importance of fathers in child rearing” — there’s a banquet of interesting reads.)
Whatever the makeup of the family — we’re not just talking about straight, nuclear families here, folks — dads, you matter.
For all you do, this column is for you.
Enjoy your day.
You’ve earned it.