“The older I get, the smarter my father seems to get." –Tim Russert
I've Been Thinking...
Just a few months ago, I was sitting at Kobe Bryant’s memorial service in LA listening to one speaker after the other talk about Bryant’s role as a “girl dad.” My eyes welled up with tears as I listened to them reflect on how his embrace of that moniker had affected how they viewed their own daughters and roles as fathers. In the weeks after the service, it seemed like everywhere I turned, men were proudly owning that title.
I couldn’t help but reflect on my father at that time. He, too, was a “girl dad,” but when I was growing up, being a “girl dad” wasn’t a thing.
I grew up as the only girl surrounded by brothers, and the message I often got was to be like a boy. Be as tough as a boy. Be as competitive as a boy. Be as athletic as a boy. Be as competent as a boy. The "in thing" was to be a "boy dad."
Even though I went to an all-girls school, dads weren’t applauded the way they are today for showing up and being present in their daughters’ lives. I say this not to bemoan or complain, but to celebrate this moment and to illustrate how much things can change in one person’s lifetime. I know we have a long way to go before parenting roles are equal, but I think it’s an awesome thing for men to be encouraged in their fathering—not just for their own kids, but for so many others in need of fathers as well.
Studies show dads who are present in their child’s life make a difference. Engaged fathers produce more confident daughters. Evolved, kind fathers show their sons a new way forward. Loving, nurturing, encouraging fathers show their daughters what manhood can look like, and what to expect in a man if she chooses to be with one.
Today, I am in awe when I see fathers pushing strollers, dancing with their daughters or doing their hair, standing with their sons while they cry and telling them it’s ok. I am moved when they proudly tell others that they took paternity leave or stand up and fight for it for others. I’m so happy that we have come to this place.