Updated: Jun 19
Thank you, stepdads, thank you fathers, thank you dads, thank you Grandpas, thank you all you father figures out there who are stepping up for your children and/or the children who may not be biologically yours, but yours in your heart.
Taking on a pre-existing family is a lot of work and takes so much patience and acceptance. I commend those of you who are doing this with an open heart and an open mind. I can only imagine how difficult it is to enter a family whose rules are already established, whose interactions are already cemented into formation, who have a history and memories that you may not be a part of. Each family has boundaries and things that are acceptable and not acceptable, and it’s tough to know when you can have a say and when it’s not your say to have. And I can only imagine that it’s equally as trying to be able to remain quiet when you may not agree with the choices that are made.
Often times, men are stepping into the roles that the biological father has abandoned or has damaged so severely, that not only are they now instant dads, but they are instant therapists as well, trying to navigate through the emotions that accompany a child who has issues as a result of a parent who is absent by choice. I give so much credit to you for being the one true thing that child may ever have in a father figure. I applaud you for being willing to love, to nurture, to be brave and be a part of the healing process for that child. That’s tough enough for a biological parent, let alone a step dad or father figure. Thank you to those of you who are being the dad their biological one should have been.
Thank you for those of you who ARE biological dads, who have recognized that the separation was between you and the mother, not you and the child. Thank you for continually being there in so many ways, whether that is by calling your child often throughout the week, or sending daily texts letting them know you are invested in them emotionally and are interested in the things they have going on. Thank you to those of you who show up to dance recitals, sporting events, concerts, conferences, and more. Thank you for not shirking your duties financially, and not trying to get out of the extra help that may occasionally be needed in order to ensure your child’s health or well-being. Children come with unexpected expenses like braces, or maybe counseling or perhaps sports equipment, THANK YOU to those of you who are helping out when it may not be set in stone that you have to, you’re just doing it because you care about your child.
Thank you to the men who are leading by example, showing their children what goodness looks like, and not bashing the mother every chance you get. Thank you for remembering that your child is half of the mother and bashing the mother to the child is the same as letting your child know that there is a part of them you consider unlovable. Thank you for keeping in mind that your child is their own self, and not meant to be a mini you. Thank you so much for accepting them for who they are, and not rejecting them for being someone different than what you think they should be.
Thank you to those of you teaching your child to respect all human life, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Thank you for teaching love, kindness and humanity. Thank you for teaching manners to your children. It does not go unnoticed to so many others out there. Thank you for teaching your daughters to be strong, independent and capable. Thank you for teaching your sons to be respectful of all women, and to value them even if they do not value themselves. Thank you, gentlemen, for helping your child recognize their strengths, and using those to build up the areas that may need extra care. Thank you so very much for praising them when praise is due and letting them have that moment.
To the step dads, thank you for being willing to be a supportive male role model in your step children’s lives. Thank you to those of you who love your step children, and never let them feel any less than your biological ones. Thank for that. It’s not always easy, thank you for realizing that we can love our children the same amount, but differently, that is ok! Thank you to those of you who want to spend as much time with your step children as you do your biological children. Thank you for your desire to show all your children that love has no bounds or limits. I appreciate you men for that.
Thank you, dads, for being there every day, for the early morning hugs before school, to the twilight baseball games, the interest in his dreams of designing clothes, the know-how when it comes to cars, internet, grilling and planting seeds for harvest. Thank you for giving your child a home full of love to grow up in, and for recognizing that swallowing pride is one of the most important things you will teach your sons. Thank you for recognizing that teaching your daughter self-defense and critical thinking is important and showing her that her dreams are reachable is paramount. Thank you for the hunting trips, the museum afternoons, the Sunday church attendance, park afternoons and tough life lessons. Thank you for teaching your kids that the meal in the car parked in the shade is just as great as the meal around the family table, it's what you put into the effort that makes it personal and it's all about the bond between people that makes you a family.
Thank you to the men who take time out of their day to be a father figure to a child who doesn’t have a male role model in their lives to look up to. Thank you for being a friend to that child and showing them that men are wonderful people and have so much goodness to offer the world. Thank you for making a difference in that child’s life and being the reason that child will strive to be the best version of themselves. I realize that when you have your own thing going on, taking some of your precious free time to devote to a child you have no obligation to is a selfless choice, and a choice to be commended. I appreciate you for being a strong man and giving of yourselves in this way.
Thank you, grandfathers, Papas, Gramps, and grandpa, for assuming a role you may have thought you were done with. Thank you for spending your golden years giving of yourself to your grandchildren when the biological dads are working, or absent or have passed on. I understand that these are the years you are supposed to be relaxing, traveling, or finally getting around to "that project", but instead you are there to help raise your grandchild or spend time with them because they need you. Thank you for the sacrifice I know it takes to give over and over. Thank you for taking the time to teach the “old ways” of doing things, because sometimes, there is greater reward in that. Thank you for caring about manners still, thank you for the stories you share, the laughs you give and the memories you create for that child.
Thank you to all the men who are doing the fatherly things, even if distance prevents you from being there every day physically, you are there every day in spirit. You are calling, you are writing, you are texting, you are Skyping or Face-timing. You are the hero in your child’s life, you are the cement in every relationship your daughter will embark on. You are the example of how to treat a woman for your son. You are the dad, and I thank those of you who are taking that seriously. The world needs more of you, and you are appreciated!
Thank you single dads. Thank you for all of the hard work you do that often goes unnoticed or unmentioned. Thank you for being both father and mother, thank you for doing your best to be everything to that little person. Thank you for the late nights, the early mornings, the determination it takes to do all of this alone. Thank you for not failing your children, thank you for persevering through every obstacle so that your daughter sees your face at the end of the day and feels safe and loved. Thank you for being strong and yet vulnerable so your son knows it's ok to cry and still be considered a strong individual. Thank you for making wise choices so that your children know they are the priority in your life. Thank you for doing all the things that are necessary in order to be exactly what they need. Thank you.
Thank you to the men who are acknowledging the primary parent’s hustle every day, thank for recognizing the hard work it takes the primary parent getting your child to all the places. It takes a lot to keep that calendar and remember dentist appointments, sleepovers, new shoe purchases, history tests, doctor appointments, and other things, especially if the primary parent is also working a full-time job. Thank you to the men who see this and either send an encouraging word or offer to help when they don’t necessarily have to. I see you, and I think it’s a beautiful thing. Thank you.
Lastly, thank you for the sacrifices you make that I may not have mentioned, the ones no one notices. Often times, those are the most important of all.
Gentlemen, I salute you.
*Dedicated with love to Devante, who is everything to Bri and more.