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It’s time to stand up and ask what we can do to be better dads. It’s time to get our priorities straight. It’s time to come home and actually be a dad.

Dads. It’s time to show our sons how to properly treat a woman. It’s time to show our daughters how a girl should expect be treated. It’s time to show forgiveness and compassion. It’s time to show our children empathy. It’s time to break social norms and teach a healthier way of life! It’s time to teach good gender roles and to ditch the unnecessary ones. Does it really matter if your son likes the color pink? Is it going to hurt anybody? Do you not see the damage it inflicts to tell a boy that there is something wrong with him because he likes a certain color? Do we not see the damage we do in labeling our girls “tom boys” or our boys “feminine” just because they have their own likes and opinions on things? Things that really don’t matter?

Dads. Speak softly to your sons. Speak calmly to your daughters. Who do you want your child to be? Do you want him to be the kid at school that sits by himself with absolutely no friends or self esteem? Or do you want him to be the kid running for class office and feeling like he deserves to win it? Do we not see that we have the power to give that to our children? Do we not see that we have the power to teach our children the tools of societal survival?

Dads. Do we not see the influence we have when we say we believe in one thing, but our children see us living something else? Do we not realize how little we encourage our children to actually decide what they believe, declare what they believe, and then live by it? Whether it’s religion, politics, sports, or societal norms. It is not our place to tell our kids what to think. It is our place to teach our kids to think correctly. If we do this, we need have no fear of what they will decide for themselves and how strongly they’ll stand behind it. A man will follow his own convictions to his death, but he’ll only follow another man’s convictions until he steps in manure.

Damn it, Dads. Every child has the innate right to ask for ice cream without being belittled and broken. Every child has the innate right to do so without being made to cower in the corner because the man who is supposed to be his hero is actually a small, small man altogether. Every child has the innate right to be happy, and giggle, and laugh, and play. Why aren’t you letting them? Every child on earth has the right to a dad who thinks before he speaks; a dad who understands the great power that has been given to him to ultimately shape another human being’s life; a dad who loves his child more than he loves his television shows or sports games; a dad who loves his child more than his material junk; a dad who loves his child more than his time. Every child deserves a superhero dad.

Maybe the truth is that a lot of dads don’t deserve their kids.

Maybe the truth is that a lot of dads aren’t really dads at all.

I apologize for the heatedness of my post. I believe a part of me feels like a coward for not saying something to the man in front of me at Costco. Consider this post to be my penance. Perhaps a part of me feels that if even one person reads this and decides to be a better dad, it was worth every second that I spent typing it. If one child has a better life because something in my words stirred their father to step up their game, then it was worth every ounce of begging and pleading with you to share this with others, of which I am inevitably going to be guilty.

Dads. Children are gifts. They are not ours for the breaking. They are ours for the making. So stand up with me and show the world that there are a lot of good dads around.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing Pleading

PS, I was seriously ornery and taken back when I wrote this. Please comment below and say whatever you like, but please also tell me about a good and real dad you know, somewhere, and what makes them good. I really need to hear it right now. Also, if you liked this post, be sure to read “16 Ways I Blew My Marriage.”