A Different Perspective: Four Father’s Days Plus One
Updated: Jan 6
by Allan Shedlin
Dad, Grampsy, and Founder, DADvocacy Consulting Group
In addition to thinking about my children and grandchildren as I wrote this Father’s Day post, I was thinking about Gianna Floyd, George Floyd’s six-year-old daughter who exclaimed “Daddy changed the world!” He may, indeed, “change the world” because of what was done to him. But each dad has the opportunity to change his child’s world by what he does – and is – for his child.
Being a dad is more than who you are, it’s what you do.
I hope all dads take time today to think about how they want their children to describe them as a father, five, 10, 20 years from now. Once figuring that out, they can dedicate themselves to becoming the dad they want to be.
And may all dads and father figures enjoy some time listening to the words and sentiments of four dad-themed songs – the lyrics speak for themselves – at points throughout this blog post. The emotions they may trigger are well worth savoring. But, hey, it’s Daddy’s Day, and I know every dad can make the time.
A version of the following article was first distributed worldwide on June 12, 2013, by the Hearst/NY Times News Service:
A Different Perspective:
Four Father’s Days Plus One
A teacher asked her first-grade student how old his father was, the child answered “six years old.” The teacher asked, “How is that possible?” The child responded, “He became a father only when I was born.”
I’ll be celebrated this coming Sunday like millions of other dads on our officially designated Father’s Day, but I prefer to celebrate my four other father’s days. Here’s how I figure it: these are the birthdays of each of my three daughters and the day I said “yes” when a 32-year-old adult asked me to be his father.
Yes, it feels good personally to be celebrated each year on the third Sunday of June and for the nation to have an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of fathers, but it may be of even greater value for dads to consider celebrating the birth of their children as the true father’s days. To distinguish between the two, we might consider renaming the latter “Daddy’s Day.”
PAUSE AND LISTEN: George Strait: Love Without End, Amen
There is a big difference between fathers and daddies. Becoming a father is a onetime biological act that occurs in a matter of seconds and does not require a commitment beyond a shot of DNA. Being a daddy is a lifelong process – a repertoire of actions that requires ongoing and demonstrable commitment. Daddying occurs at the juncture of fatherhood and nurturance; it can be a force that encourages a child to flourish. At its most sublime it can be reciprocally nurturing – providing the parent an opportunity to be nourished by the child’s response to daddying.
PAUSE AND LISTEN: Bette Midler, Wind Beneath My Wings
Although ideally carried out by the birth father, a daddying role can also be played by a grandfather, older brother, uncle, or close friend. Providing a daddying role is not only good for the child whose father is not around (and there are more than 24 million waking up this morning into daddy-less households – by biological definition, there is no such thing as a fatherless child), but this is good for men who take the opportunity to step up to play such a role and fill such a void.
Here’s why: the hundreds of dads, granddads, and great granddads I’ve interviewed during the past 23 years have told me that, as fathers, they experience a different kind of love, they are less self-centered, and they appreciate their partners more. Being engaged dads, they also get to experience the valuable childlike qualities of curiosity, imagination, the propensity to question, a willingness to make mistakes, enthusiasm, flexibility, and humor – qualities that may be as valuable to adults as they are to children.
PAUSE AND LISTEN: Josh Groban, You Raise Me Up
Every day in America, 11,000 babies are born. Each baby has a father, and each of these fathers has the opportunity to become a daddy.
So let’s use our official Father’s Day each year to "Daddy-up" – it’s not only for the good of our children, but also for our fathers, families, communities, and our nation.
Happy Daddy’s Day!
PAUSE AND LISTEN: Harry Chapin, Cats In the Cradle
Allan Shedlin has devoted his life’s work to improving the odds for children and families. He has three daughters, a “bonus” son, five grandchildren, and three “bonus” grandchildren. Trained as an educator, Allan has alternated between classroom service, policy development, and advising. After eight years as an elementary school principal, Allan founded and headed the National Elementary School Center for 10 years. In the 1980s, he began writing about education and parenting for major news outlets and education trade publications, as well as appearing on radio and TV. In 2008, he founded REEL Fathers in Santa Fe, NM, and now serves as president emeritus. In 2017, he founded the DADvocacy Consulting Group. In 2018, he launched the DADDY Wishes Fund and Daddy Appleseed Fund. In 2019 he co-created and began facilitating the Armor Down/Daddy Up! programs. He earned his elementary and high school diplomas from NYC’s Ethical Culture Schools, BA at Colgate University, MA at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and an ABD at Fordham University. But he considers his D-A-D the most important “degree” of all.