By: Cody J. Elms
I've been a father for four years now. Not a day goes that I don't wonder how I haven't messed it up yet. Actually...let me rephrase that. Not a day goes by that I don't wonder how bad I have messed it up.
I've struggled at times. We all do. We all try to be the perfect parent, despite knowing that perfection is subjective. I've tried to stick to the script. I've heard the words of wisdom passed down, browsed the blogs, read the articles, and watched the videos on how to be a parent that helps their child grow emotionally, intellectually, and physically.
They’ve helped a little, but what is amazing and almost magical about the entire experience is that overall the majority of the time it just comes naturally and is instinctive.
There are fathers and there are mothers. That's it. Now before you get bent out of shape, understand that those are roles. They are titles. Not defined by their gender or their relation, but rather by their historically referenced responsibilities and influences associated with both labels.
The traditional role as father is often times met with more jokes than sentiment. From white sneakers to bad backs to literal Dad Jokes, the title of Father is something we typically look at as some Chevy Chase or Tim Allen character (I'm dating myself here).
Being a father, particularly one in 2020, is far from just comic relief. Although some of these Dad stereotypes I personally live up to to the fullest, fatherhood in the modern world is more in depth than it has been in the past. Long gone are the days of the father image being the strong silent type who works all day and is emotionally uninvolved. In a way, as the role of women in society has expanded significantly over the last 80 years, so has that of the traditional father inside the home.
Fatherhood as it is today is still a relatively new concept of the role. The Dad role now more than ever needs to be directed closer to connecting with your child on a level and in a way that they are able to recognize themselves and their identity as well as respect those they will grow up around and meet throughout their lives.
Mothers have always been the nurturers, and perhaps that has resulted in a way with them not having the cultural impact that a dad can have at times. Dad's are not supposed to be THAT voice in their child's ear, so when it is heard now, maybe, hopefully they will listen. It's not all sunshine and rainbows. As I referenced earlier, there will be struggle. Hell, there will be absolute failure. They just need to see you try. Then try again. Never to stop trying to be that influence and guide.
With unfamiliar territory comes trial and error, research, and just flat out "wingin' it", but when you invest so much time and energy into something, it becomes an everlasting part of you. That is why I feel the roles of mom and dad are not based on genetics as much as on who takes up the mantle.
So whether you're a father being a father, a mother assuming both roles, a grandparent stepping in, a father to be, or anyone else, know that as we honor Dads, that you're included. We know your role, and you're a great dad. You're celebrated, you're appreciated, and you're the World's Greatest Dad to the only person that matters.