When a single mom goes out on a date with somebody new / It always winds up feeling like a job interview / My mama used to wonder if she’d ever meet someone who wouldn’t find out about me and then turn around and run
I met the man I call my dad when I was five years old / He took my mom out to a movie and for once I got to go / A few months later I remember lying there in bed and I overheard him pop the question and I prayed that she’d say yes
And then all of a sudden it seemed so strange to me how we went from something’s missing to a family / Lookin’ back all I can say about all the things he did for me / I hope I’m at least half the dad that he didn’t have to be
– Brad Paisley, “He Didn’t Have to Be.”
Fathering a child is common; being a dad is remarkable. Parenting someone else’s child is extraordinary. Children need dads who are men. You do not have to father children to parent, but you do have to be a grownup man. Two men without biological children contributed much to the lives of millions of children.
Dr. Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel, authored more than 60 books for children. He wrote delightful, memorable stories and sold over 600 million books in 20 different languages. I, for one, learned to read aloud from his books.
Fred Rogers created the television series, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. His mild manner comforted children through difficult issues, and he modeled how to be a friend and live in a community.
In my practice, I ask men, “Who is your role-model for being a dad?” Too often, I get a perplexed look and this response, “No one.” Then we set about, defining the practice of parenthood.
Hats off to all men who are dads and especially to those who do not have to be.