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Real Dads Go to Work. Real Dads Come Home.

I was born into considerable poverty.

When I turned eighteen and left home to attend University, my parents had just started the construction of their million-dollar dream home.

The same father who was standing there when I made my entrance into this world was standing there once again as I packed my bags and embraced my family goodbye, bound for a new life some 3,000 miles away.

When I was born in mid-1980, my father was a young college student. 24-years old, he was working full-time to put himself through engineering school. My mother also took on employment in the limited hours she could afford to work. Being parents to my older sister and me, fitting in daily class schedules, and completing all of the nightly studies, left our family’s bank statements screaming constant red. The time and ability they both had to earn income was precious and often difficult to come by. We were a poor family, easily placed within the category of “those just trying to survive.”

I spent the entirety of my childhood, tagging along with Mom, purchasing our school clothes, furniture, and the majority of our other living necessities from thrift stores. Almost everything we owned was second-hand. Sometimes, I’m quite sure, third or fourth.

As if the demands of two children weren’t stressful and consuming enough, several more children were added to our family after me. Child number five was born with Down’s syndrome, and so required even more time and expense given on her behalf. In eleven years, my mother gave birth to seven children, each of them draining their own portion of the family checking account, each of them with their own set of specific or special needs, and each of them demanding whatever divided attention their worn-out parents were able to give.

Throughout it all, my father worked, and he worked hard. It wasn’t enough for him to simply keep up with the family’s growing expenditures. He graduated college and went on to earn an advanced degree in civil engineering. He worked every day, climbing the corporate ladder, improving his station, and thereby improving life for his family.

Eventually he joined together with his brother, and the two of them went into business for themselves. With time, the effort and strain to put his family ahead began to pay off. Though small in nature, he started seeing extra dividends for his labor and the risks he was taking slowly started to transform into measurable success.

When I was twelve years old, I remember how wonderful it felt to finally shop for our school clothes at Wal-Mart instead of the all-too-familiar second-hand stores. The euphoria I felt as I ran my hands across the racks of brand-new clothes was overwhelmingly wonderful. We still couldn’t afford much, but that year we could afford new, and to a pre-teen boy whose wardrobe was often the center of ridicule by other children, the moment was life-changing.

Buying new clothes felt so good. I remember standing there, staring at the shopping cart, not yet a teenager, promising myself that I would always work hard enough that my kids would never be forced to wear used clothing.

As a young teenager, I watched as bigger business deals fell into place for my father and his brother. I never knew how much money he was making, though I wasn’t oblivious to the quality of our lives improving as we first graduated from apartments to small houses, and then from small houses to bigger ones. We enjoyed better quality food in our meals. We stopped finding ourselves stranded, standing on the roadside next to broken-down or smoking vehicles. With time, the quality of just about everything improved for us.

At fourteen, I made the mistake of asking my dad for a free handout. I’ll never forget what he said in his somewhat stern reply. “Danny, I will never just give you money. You have to work for things in this life. I will, however, help you find ways to earn it.”

Thank goodness he was a real dad to me. No matter how much money he eventually made, he always required that I make my own way in life. If I wanted to buy basketball or football cards, I had to go weed the gardens of my neighbors. Later on, if I wanted to take a girl to the dance, I had to get a job so that I could afford to do so properly. If I wanted to drive the family car, I had to pay my own gas and my own insurance. My parents taught me to work. The life they gave me taught me to appreciate abundance. For both I am eternally thankful.

As I look back at the eighteen years of my life spent under the wings of my parents, I can’t help but shout hallelujah for the example they set before me. I can’t help but smile, thinking of the countless conversations my parents had one with another, asking the question can we do this. Or, I’m sure, the question is all of this worth it? I wish I could have laid a hand on their shoulders and given them a glimpse of the future they would soon enjoy. Thankfully for all of us, they never wavered, and they always chose to keep going.

It was just before I graduated high school that my dad signed the agreements on his first multi-million dollar business deal. It was my father, not any other man, who gave me the perspective of the importance of a man’s work for his family, and also the belief that no man has to be defined by his poverty forever.

And while level of income will never define a man, level of dedication to the betterment of living for one’s family most certainly will.

There is no doubt that it is the duty of a father to provide for his family. A real dad never questions this, and he never does anything less than what it takes to keep a roof over his family’s heads and food spread across his family’s table.

Real dads don’t slack off or sit idly by. A real dad is never content giving less than his all to his job and to his career. He is never content pushing for anything less than advancement in his position and increase in his fiscal situation.

He certainly doesn’t find happiness not working, sucking the system dry, freeloading government assistance while he does little or nothing to improve his, or his family’s situation.

A real dad is also never content sitting home, ushering his wife out the door each day to go fight and fend for the family’s needs.

A real dad does not hide behind a lack of education, lack of skill, or self-declared lack of ability. He doesn’t sit home, half-heartedly attempting to find employment, hiding behind the headlines of bad economies, tough hiring situations, or refusing to take jobs that are “below” his dignity. He doesn’t love the concept of unemployment income more than he loves the satisfaction that comes from bringing home a paycheck to his family each month.

He also doesn’t expect the world to hand him success or abundance on a silver platter. He understands that nothing worthwhile in life comes easy or free, and that even though he can’t always give his family a better life as soon as the following day or even the following year, over time, he does have the ability.

This is not to say that wives are never to work, or that a woman bringing in an income is wrong. The reality of this world often leaves neither opportunity nor additional options for some families. As society has changed, sometimes the best opportunities will come through a mother’s employment or ability to make money for her family. Such a decision is very personal to each married couple, and should never be taken lightly.

It is also not to say that some fathers are not forced out of work, against their will, unable to perform the duties that everyday dads are required to perform. For some, injury, sickness, or disability hamper their facilities, also leaving their families with fewer options than most are afforded.

Even in such situations, a real dad does not exist purely on the efforts of others. He finds ways to advance the opportunity for his family in whatever capacity he has. He is never ungrateful. He is never without purpose.

Real dads are ambitious and they are motivated; they rise from whatever level they currently find themselves, and they always work to attain that next step up. A real dad doesn’t permit himself to believe he’s forever trapped in a system or an income that he unmistakably knows he could improve.

If it’s education he lacks, he finds a way to become educated. He reads books, he takes courses, he watches programs, and he studies new tasks and techniques pertinent to his advancement in whatever medium to which he has access. For some, attaining formal schooling and degrees is the obvious or chosen path. For others, it’s ten daily minutes, learning whatever he can. Some men will make advancements over weeks or months. Others will take much longer. The speed does not matter. Only the effort, and only the direction.

If skill is the ultimate killer of opportunity, real dads work to develop whatever skills they currently lack. They aren’t satisfied letting advancements in technology render their abilities obsolete, nor do they linger idly as they are cast to the bottom of the employee food chain. They aren’t content leaving behind bigger or better job opportunities simply because those who know different skills are more easily able to land such jobs. Instead, they learn what needs to be learned. They ask for help. They work extra hours without pay, if they must, shadowing others to gain the skills they desperately need.

Furthermore, a real dad never declares himself as one who lacks ability. He refuses to declare that he is too unintelligent, too unable, or too incompetent. While some goals are more difficult to obtain, he believes that those goals are still free to be reached by any and all who will put in the proper work and sufficient time to do so.

Some dads dream big. Some dads dream small. Any dad who dreams at all brings great things to his family. Real dads are always numbered in this crowd.

As a fourteen-year old boy, a close friend of mine was hit by a personal water craft. He was resuscitated and survived with measurable amounts of brain damage. I have watched him closely over the years.

In high school, I watched him graduate among the highest in his class. I watched him serve as a missionary for his church. I later watched him graduate college with high honors and maintain successful employment. To meet him would leave you to think that such things were impossible. His answer to such thoughts would be simple. “Nothing is impossible except to those who don’t care enough to rise above the limits that are placed upon them by others.” He then would quote Muhammad Ali who said, “impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion.”

This man is now working to create seminars and write books with some of businesses biggest titans, teaching others with disabilities how to rise above life’s biggest challenges and enabling others to chase the dreams that society would quickly proclaim impossible.

While he is in a minority, he is far from unique. Many there are who have overcome insurmountable odds to better the situation of themselves and their families. Many there are who refused to be labeled with statements of limitation. Many there are who we can each look to as inspiration as we feel that much simpler things are unbeatable or insurmountable.

And, coincidentally, many there are with far greater ability, intelligence, or opportunity who never do much of anything at all. They never rise above their own inhibitions, and they never achieve that which could rightfully be theirs.

In truth, the reason these men cannot be labeled as real dads is solid and simple. While a man may have the freedom to remain in his station for life, and while no other man can judge him for it, to force his family to do the same can be considered oppression. To take away all opportunity and prospect for his family to have a better life, under the broad umbrella over which thousands of excuses have a way of pouring themselves down, is wrong. Real dads realize that, and real dads do something about it.

My own father could easily have remained in poverty. He chose not to.

He chose to give his wife and his children a better life. He chose to chase his dreams, even when great risk presented itself and the jaws of hell gaped open behind him with every step. He choseto always push further, even though the timeframe for his goals turned from years into decades.

And with every choice, a thousand smaller choices always nipped at his heels. A thousand moments presented themselves, begging him to step back and to stop. Begging him to stay. Begging him to do anything but make for himself and his family a better life. Yet he trudged on, certain that one day it would all be worth it.

And, just as it has been worth it for the countless other men and women who have realigned their own stars throughout history, it was worth it for him. And it was worth it for all of us.

Yes, my dad taught me work.

But he also taught me something greater. He taught me that real dads come home from work.

From the first 18 years of my life, I have only a handful of memories that involve my dad working at all. Instead, my mind is full of reminiscences involving a dad who was there. Every single night.

My father was never so blinded in his quest for betterment that he made it a habit to bring work home with him. He knew that anything that could be accomplished could be accomplished behind a desk during the brunt of his day. He believed that bringing work home only obstructed the handful of hours that were his each night to be with his wife and children. And while it had to happen occasionally, it was rare indeed. We all knew that when dad came home, he was ours.

Real dads come home from work. They put away their computers, their drawing boards, and their emails. They don’t retire for the evening until they know the intimate details of the going-ons in the lives of the people they cherish most.

A real dad, as discussed in the previous chapter, is there. And he knows that being there has so much more to do with how he is there than simply coming home at night. He doesn’t leave his kids to teach and entertain themselves. He doesn’t disappear into the night in his quest for more money.

And in those rare times that bringing work home is inevitable, a real dad uses such opportunity to teach his kids the value of breaking-away from it all. Every so often, he vocally cuts into his workload and offers his undivided attention to his children.  He declares that he has five minutes to play catch, and he plays catch. He declares that he has ten minutes to read stories, and he reads stories. He makes sure his kids know that on that rare occasion that he does have to work, he’s still there, and he misses them.

Leaving work behind is so often easier said than done. I know for me, it’s one of my greatest ongoing struggles. It is overly tempting to jump onto my computer when Noah gets lost playing on his own, his independence pushing me aside for the moment. When I do, it is overpoweringly difficult to then break-away again and give myself back to my son.

And so I continue bettering myself in this obligation. I continue perfecting my following of this Real Dad Rule. I continue finding creative ways to get the work done at times when Noah is not there.  The quest to be a real dad is ongoing for every father, and I am no exception.

Yet I will perfect myself in it. I must, for my child needs a dad who, when he comes home, is actually home. My son needs a man who teaches him that work is everything, and also that work is nothing. Noah deserves a real dad, just like his dad had.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

What is your story? Did your dad work? Did he work too much? Do you have memories of him being there when he came home or do you have memories of him working even after he came home from work?

PS. Today’s post is the seventh chapter in a read-along of my new book The Real Dad Rules (which will go on through February of next year).  Don’t wait to read the rest of The Real Dad Rules! Get your own copy today (Amazon, Kindle, iBooks, NookHardcover, or visit the official Real Dad Rules webpage for signed copies). Get it for yourself. Get it for your kids.  Give it as a gift. Just get it, and get in on the conversation!

While I wrote this book to everyday dads (from an everyday dad), I believe that its message can be applied to and appreciated by mothers and fathers alike. And, if you believe in the message of The Real Dad Rules, and if you love what you’ve read so far, please do Noah and me two huge favors! First, please share this page with your friends and family. Second, please take a second and leave a five-star review on Amazon (or Nook/iBooks).

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58 comments
JulieChris
JulieChris

I'm with Laura Elaine Fowler Thompson.  This reeks of gender roles that constrain both men and women.  Why if a man can (and should) be tender and caring shouldn't a woman be equally responsible for the financial well being of her family?  My husband doesn't work, and we have no children.   The reasons for that are personal, but his value is not reduced because his work doesn't produce a paycheck.

Lessons Of A Dad
Lessons Of A Dad

"Danny, I will never just give you money. You have to work for things in this life. I will, however, help you find ways to earn it."  Awesome.  I wish more dads were like that.  I'm trying to instill the same things to my own kids.  This post has been very inspiring.  Thank you.

Mike D
Mike D

I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I have seen several posts commenting about another "role" for a dad in the home other than the detailed account Dan has written about HIS father. While I do not know Dan personally, from what I have read, I believe he is saying "Real Dads support their families." This "support" may come in a variety of manifestations but it is that "support" that distinguishes a Dad from a Father....

Laura Elaine Fowler Thompson
Laura Elaine Fowler Thompson like.author.displayName 1 Like

I generally enjoy your writing but you really stepped into it in my opinion: "A real dad is also never content sitting home, ushering his wife out the door each day to go fight and fend for the family’s needs." I agree that if the family needs additional income or the wife is struggling with being the primary breadwinner, what you say is true. But there ARE families out there where the husband staying home is the best thing for the kids and the family as a whole. There are situations were the wife is OK with being the primary breadwinner but needs the stability of a spouse at home, working hard as a stay-at-home spouse. I am disappointed that you would so passive-aggessively attack men who are in that situation. As women, we have fought amongst ourselves for years and are finally approaching a time and place where both working and stay-at-home mothers are valued; I wish you would do the same for dads.

Laura Elaine Fowler Thompson
Laura Elaine Fowler Thompson like.author.displayName 1 Like

And for the record, my husband does not currently stay home with our kids, by the way. But one day he may. Because he sees value in being a full-time parent and I'm able and willing to be the breadwinner. That does not make him less of a man or less of a "Real Dad" - I in fact think it makes him more of both.

JustME
JustME

My parents were not wealthy by any means while I was growing up. I am the eldest of four and we often were given clothes from cousins and shopped in second hand stores. Christmas presents were also toys and bikes from cousins who were better off. My parents worked all the time and most of my memories as a child take place at my babysitters. They are now divorced and still not wealthy. They regret not being able to spend more time with us and give us more of the finer things in life but, I am perfectly happy with the way I was raised. I learned the value of family rather than the value of things. I wouldn't change my childhood for anything. Everyday I thank the Lord for the life I have, even if it's hard and I don't have as much as others. I have everything I need. Family, friends and faith. <3 My recent post Why I don't do tutorials.

Nic
Nic

Interesting read. However, I agree with the poster who commented that many times luck plays a factor on financial success. My dad was financially successful, but he worked extremely hard and for extremely long hours. One year (I think it was 4th grade) I asked Santa to please let my dad not work so much so he could spend time with me. I work hard at a challenging career, but doubt I will ever be able to afford a multi-million dollar home. I guess my main question to you would be: Is it MORE important to make a lot of money to "support" your family and never be around to help them spend it than it is to make "enough" money yet have time to spend with your family?

Thought provoking post, per usual Dan!

My recent post My 9 Circles of Hell Summer Pt. 1 of 3

Grace Johnson
Grace Johnson

I just wanted to site that he did write. Some Dad's dream big and some Dream small..........read on from there and you'll see!

Ann
Ann like.author.displayName 1 Like

Sure wish my X husband read this blog. Might open up his eyes to how a "real" Dad is suppose to be. :o|

Cindy Sigler West
Cindy Sigler West

I feel you! I said the same thing as I read it. My ex has used every excuse in the book to keep from paying child support or keep from having to be responsible. My husband, on the other hand, is a wonderful provider! He lost his high paying job last year, but rather than sit around whining, he used the bit of retirement fund he had and started his own business....... I couldn't be more proud of him!

sunnyjaye
sunnyjaye

As a single mom of 1 (soon to be 2!), the mom and dad roles are irrelevant - I have to be both in our home. This chapter has helped confirm my decision to leave a 'safe' job with benefits for a job where I am actualy using my education as an engineer, and earning what an engineer should. I want to show my kids that I am proud of what I do, not bitter in a role that I am overqualified for.

Debi French
Debi French

I am teaching my kids that reusing and recycling is the smart thing to do. We don't have much (single mom of five after my husband moved out when I was 5 months pregnant with our 5th) but it doesn't matter. We have what we need and we have each other. I am in school and on a track to have a career that I am passionate about, won't be a high paying job, but it is something I will be fulfilled doing. I think that is far more important than always striving to make more money so we can fill our lives with more things. That is what I want my kids to learn to strive for.

stacy
stacy

Dan -- Absolutely engaging post. First time here, and you wrapped me in right away and kept my attention through what I think of as a rather long blog. Good job!

Oh and by the way, I also appreciate the great photos of you and your son on the homepage, (but especially the one on this post where the dad is so preciously holding his sons in his arms). They are incredibly representative of your message!

Tina Hurd
Tina Hurd

For those who might be offended let me just point out two things he said very clearly-
"He certainly doesn’t find happiness not working, sucking the system dry, freeloading government assistance while he does little or nothing to improve his, or his family’s situation." Is he (the husband, boyfriend, or whoever) helping the situation by being at home and taking on all those responsibilities that we know from experience is not an easy task? If the man is lazy and freeloading it is one thing, but if he is taking on the role of being a stay-at-home Dad, there is nothing wrong with that. He is still improving the situation by being there. By taking all the pressure of the daily home needs so that his partner is able to do their thing. He isn't idly standing by.
My husband stayed at home for a while after our youngest son was born because at the time I made more that he did. It only made sense that I bring home the bacon. We both knew that we could not trust a world to raise our children the way we could. That was our choice with absolutely no regrets. As a matter of fact, dare I say, we both appreciate each other so much more now. The situation is never easy for either one. It is however fulfilling, either way you go.
I don't think Dan ever intended for anyone to be offended because he also says, "This is not to say that wives are never to work, or that a woman bringing in an income is wrong. The reality of this world often leaves neither opportunity nor additional options for some families. As society has changed, sometimes the best opportunities will come through a mother’s employment or ability to make money for her family. Such a decision is very personal to each married couple, and should never be taken lightly."
He never says it is wrong. He doesn't point a mean finger at a man or a couple that chooses to be unconventional.

Personally, I love this chapter. I think this is one of the best ones yet. Thanks for sharing Dan!

Laura Elaine Fowler Thompson
Laura Elaine Fowler Thompson

But Dan never valued a stay-at-home father. YOU are making that distinction and I agree but Dan should be taken for task for not making it himself. By ignoring that a stay-at-home dad can be an incredibly valuable and very real dad, he opened himself up to rightful criticism.

Becki
Becki

When I was growing up, my dad was never home, but he took at least one of us with him to work each day. (He drove a school bus in the morning and afternoon, and worked on a farm in between. He always took up to 3 of us at a time to ride on the tractor, bale hay, etc.)
Reading this post gave me mixed feelings. I felt like he worked very hard, and worked every day of his life up to about 2 years ago, then he got diabetes, and the one skill he had was driving (school bus, semi, city bus). It has made it very hard for him to know what to do. (He is 65 years old, and has a lot of health problems. I am the one who feels the strongest that he should be able to just live the rest of his life jobless instead of learning a new skill. His wife (my 46 year old step mother) feels that he should be supporting her so she doesn't have to work. (they have no children together, and all of his kids are aged 32-42) I read your post, and felt that you would agree with his wife.

JustSayin2
JustSayin2

" I read your post, and felt that you would agree with his wife."

 

He said "real dad", not "real husband." The kids in this case were taken care of and have grown up. He fulfilled his job as "dad."

Rebecca
Rebecca

I'm a stay at home mom, and my husband is definitely a "real dad." He works so hard, and when he comes home and on weekends he devotes most of his time to us, his family. Some day we'd like to switch, so that he's the stay-at-home dad and I'm the go to work mom (economically it just isn't feasible right now). And I know that when the day comes that he's a stay at home dad, he will take over the household chores (after intense training from me!), and do most of what I do now. He also wants to program from home, so in a sense he'll still be working.

I think you're right, that it is about that internal drive to make a better life for your family. And if that means working during the day, then spending the evening with the kids, that's great. If it means being the supportive stay-at home dad who works by doing the laundry, dishes, cleaning house, picking up the kids from school--well, that's work too, and it allows the mom to come home to the kids and relax and play. And whichever role the mom and dad plays, it's the effort behind it that matters. There are plenty of stay-at-home moms who could easily be in that category of mooching, lazy, deadbeat.

Keep posting, and I love reading!

troismommy
troismommy

Well said, Dan.
My recent post Rejection is the Spice of Life

Jessica Fambrough
Jessica Fambrough

My daddy was a truck driver for my entire childhood and adolescence. Daddy worked hard for us to be able to eat and live ass a lower middle class family but daddy wasn't there for me when I needed him when I was growing up and it has harbored some bad feelings between us. We deal with it but not well and I LOVED THIS POST!!!

teachinfourth
teachinfourth

I can't say that I have too many fond memories of my dad when I was a kid...he got much better as I grew up, but as a kid, he wasn't all that great of a guy. I'm so glad he changed.

Today?

He's absolutely awesome...thank goodness.

My recent post Making Magic - The Blogger Challenge II

Danielle Stolk
Danielle Stolk

Sometimes Dads do stay home so Moms can work... this is NOT sitting idly by. Being a stay at home parent is NOT an easy job and my husband does it graciously. He ensures that our children know there is always a parent available to them, we do NOTand will not use day care. My husband also works on his family's farm where we live while he cares for our kids.
We have chosen to live modestly for the benefit of our children, setting an example of frugality. We shop at thrift stores and my children enjoy it as much as shopping for new things, maybe more. Life is not about striving for ever greater financial success. We do not use government handouts of any sort... we just have learned to live within our means, modest as they are.
We both hold college degrees.
A Dad who stays home to raise his children is just as much a REAL dad as one who works outside the home.

Clin
Clin

I wonder how your Dad was able to go to work full time and go to college? Did he have no assitance from the goverment or his parents? I grew up in a household of two addict parents, each had lost a parent at an early age, and were/are very depressed. My father was kicked out at 14 when his mother made the choice of a boyfriend over her children, enlisted in the military at 17, lying about his age, sent every check home to his mother to hold for him. After two tours in Nam he came home penniless with a heroin addiction. They raised two children on less than nothing. We lived in the attic of friends after our home was burnt to the ground. We children had to sell eggs door to door to help buy groceries meanwhile my parents did the best they could always working hard only to be looked down by people like you for taking 30 dollars a month in food stamps. After 2 months a preacher refused to pay my Dad for his materials and work after recarpeting their entire church, saying he should do it for free since it was work for the lord. Just the ability for your father to go to work and school tells that you had much more than you thought you did.

julie
julie

I love the rule about earning your own money. I was raised that way too and now know that nothing in life will be handed to you, and if it ever is, to appreciate the crap out of it.

Julie
ilikebeerandbabies.blogspot.com
My recent post Oh, Coco.

Zedseverywhere
Zedseverywhere

I know how it feels man. I was born into an immigrant family with not much money either... But we all worked hard and now we are living much better! Thats why I love this country. :)
My recent post Meanwhile, At Comic Con

Bill Whitson
Bill Whitson like.author.displayName 1 Like

Dan this post hit home (and not just because that's me and my boys in that picture!). I too spent every pre-school shopping season in thrift stores. My parents split when I was 5 and my Mom had to raise four kids on $5k a year as a teacher. She was my "dad" in this respect. She did "whatever it took" to provide for us, and that usually meant her doing without. I think some of the stay-at-home dads' wives comments are founded, but honestly if people disregard the semantics and look at the message, it's point on. Now each of us (most with families) don't have to work nearly that hard, but we all do because of the principles and values we learned. Those ideals are rare these days in so many families where the kids don't have to demonstrate any effort whatsoever to get their way. Those parents need to understand the true definition of "privileged." Well said….

stacy
stacy

I agree Bill. Even from a young age, there was never "free" money available in our household. Other than school lunch money, every penny we ever got was earned. Not the worst lesson at all, and it seems it is certainly not the lesson being taught in districts where the children are much more "privileged."

Jamie
Jamie

This is the blog I've enjoyed most from you. RIGHT ON!!!!!

Tonya A
Tonya A

This was a wonderful post Dan - and I appreciate you putting it out there! I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said! While my dad wasn't around a whole lot when I was a kid (work and buddy-time), when he was there, he and my mom taught us some very valuable lessons too! When my dad moved me into my college dorm, I think he realized how much he did miss & luckily is getting to do some of those things with my children. I grew up working hard & found myself a husband who is a very hard worker as well (I guess growing up in low income households taught us both that lesson). Life is what you make it & you might as well work to make it great! :)

May.
May.

my dad wasnt there. card with 5$ in it every birthday (which he always seemed to think was in October rather than November.)
my mom worked and provided until a car accident left her addicted to pain meds, leading to other drugs.
at 14 i was living with a "foster family" a friends family who got no financial assitance for keeping me,a wonderful family i ended up naming my son after :]
"dad" a truck driver, and "ma" a customer service rep. it was a step up from the poverty i had known in the past, but it was still constant struggle. but i never knew it.
all i knew was ma had a schedule. she woke up started breakfast and laundry, woke up all the kids (3 her own, plus her grandchildren she was left to care for, and whatever other community child stayed the night from a horrible homelife. she then went to work, came home tired, grabbed a beer switched laundry and started more. made dinner. and spent time with her kids, even those that werent hers.
now im older. and im anal retentive about money. im good with it, meticulusly planning every penny. i have found a wonderful man, just like my foster dad, who works hard for his family, and we live, with my brother in a modest home with our son and growing fetus.

i want to always live modestly.
its made me different somehow.

My recent post lovelovelove....

Shelley
Shelley like.author.displayName 1 Like

I can see your position and I can appreciate what you are saying. However, I think you may have lost what is really important.
My mother passed when I was very young and my father raised his 4 children alone. Both of his parents had passed in the previous years so with out the option of help from them he truly was left with the responsibility of not only financially supporting the family (while paying accumulated medical bills) but also caring for each of us and the household duties that my mother used to handle. My father was raised in a "traditional" household in the 50's where dad worked and mom was the home maker, because of this I think he felt intimidated by the idea of taking over the duties that my mother managed. I remember him telling me that he didn't know how to raise kids....
Regardless of how much time my father spent with me or whether he did things "right" or "wrong" by other peoples standards, I felt lucky. I never felt that I was neglected. I was taught a hard lesson very early early on, I know that life affords guarantees for no one. It doesn't matter what my dad did or did not do, how much money he made... I never kept tally of the hours he spent with me because I took comfort that when it really mattered he would be my support and he loved me, so much so that my needs always came before his. I knew that not having my mother was hard on me but because of the responsibility he took on it was harder on him and he never gave up. He was always there.
I believe people get so worked up about whats "right" and "wrong". Parents are inundated with articles and studies of how children are so effected by their parents every move, from what they are fed to whether it best to put them in a daycare vs. a parent that stays at home, or what information they should be given and at what age, as well as every other minute detail of their up bringing.
While it is important to protect them we become so nervous about ruining our children that we begin to under-mind their intelligence. Children are far more resilient than we are as adults, they aren't old enough to be set in a routine or as determined in their way of doing or seeing things. In all, it's not about work at all. It's about love and if you truly selflessly love your child they will know it. They will know a feeling that unfortunately not all children are blessed with. Wanting to pass along that feeling of love and respect is what will gauge their determination when providing for their family in the future.

joe j
joe j

I think that the people here who are offended aren't getting the "bigger" picture of this article. He is stating that "real" dads do whatever it is that needs to be done to take care of their family. If they work full time, part time or are stay at home dads, they are providing the necessities that only a FATHER can provide. The role-model, the patriarch, the disciplinarian, the loving and soft side. They are there, they provide, the better their family, they don't stand idly by. That is what a True FATHER does.

mamabear
mamabear

Funny how you do not appreciate the overwhelming need for Real Dads to provide for their families. My dad had a habit of saying "when the girls are gone" we will be able to do this or that...and I, in my youthful ignorance, felt like he was just waiting on the moment the last of us were out the door and he was free of his obligation to us. Now that I am the parent of grown men, 27 and 30, I truly understand that obligation never ends and that he was just letting my mom know that someday life would be more than putting food on the table, a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs...we too started in poverty - but didn't know it - but Dad had a very successful business as a self-employed carpenter. I realized after reading this post that i need to go see my Dad and thank him for providing for us so well and for all the lessons he taught us (We too had many "chores" to do to earn spending money and I actually roofed with him one summer - so I could learn to respect how hard the work was - and maybe, he hoped, decide to go to college). I watch my youngest son, with such pride, put in long hours at both his work and his education to make a better life for his young family. Working so hard so that his wife can stay home with their three young children and be a stay home mom like she wants to be...I cheer them on and try to help when where we can but the struggles of a young family also forge the ties and make it stronger....thank you for your postings...i print them off and send them to my sons...good lessons in them all...Noah is a very lucky little boy...

AGarza
AGarza

I had a Dad who wore a jumpsuit to work 12 hour shifts in an oil refinery. He dropped out of college, got drafted to Vietnam and never went back. But he worked hard for over 30 years in that awful place, never complaining just doing what he had to do to support his family. But when he was home, he was Dad. We wrestled, made things together, camped, and played together every moment he was at home. He pushed his children to be better, to achieve more and we did. I was the first person in my family with a college degree, got a Master's and my brother became the Engineer my Dad always wanted to be. And even now at 61, my Dad had to go back to work after one of those Madoff type scammers took every penny of his retirement. And you know what, he is still setting the example. He works harder than those half his age, facing rejection at every turn due to his age and yet he still keeps going, know ing he has to to take care of himself and Mom. And even though he had two kids that can and have helped him, he won't let us much because he is still leading the way, still showing us that when the going gets tough, you just keep going.

jekier
jekier

Reading this post brought me back to my childhood. My parents both taught all of us kids the value of a dollar and that you have no choice but to give 100% for that dollar. Dad worked a lot and although Mom worked in our teen years outside the home, I never knew two people who worked harder for their family. Thanks for making me remember... gotta go call my parents now! :)

Leah
Leah

Instead of allowing my daughter to think that thrift store shopping is "bad" or "less", I taught her that thrift store shopping is bitchin'! You get more for your money, you can find awesome styles second hand that you can't in "real" stores, and I teach her that waste is bad, and that even though we all live in a throw-away society, SHE doesn't have to! She is 13 now, and still LOVES thrift store shopping, though she gets new clothes too. There is nothing wrong with recycling perfectly good things, and EVERYTHING wrong with throwing them away. There are people out there all over the world who can't even afford the second, third or fourth hand items that a lot of Americans throw away every day. I'm proud to have a daughter that doesn't feel bad shopping second hand, and more proud still that she has managed to have friends who don't ridicule her for it.

P.S. Though I am not trying to disagree with your post, or say what you said is wrong. I just spun it differently for her. I am 31, and STILL shop at thrift stores, because I learned how to be frugal and budget my money. Plus, where else could I get a 100% brand spankin' new pair of Salvatore Ferragamo flats for $12, or New Calvin Klein's for $4 each? :D I ♥ thrift stores!

Annie
Annie

Wow this was a great post! Loved it! My dad was along the same lines, worked long hours to support five kids while my mom raised us at home. My dad sacrificed a lot and also taught me how to work really hard for everything I want or need. Because of this work ethic I put myself through college (no financial help), studied hard, earned scholarships to pay tuition, and found a good career that will always pay the bills. At the same time my mom taught me how to sew, budget, cut coupons, and find a bargain.
Great post. Keep up the good work.

Christine
Christine

My husband is a stay-at-home dad. I work. Your paragraph about each family considering the wife's work opportunities and whether or not she should work while saying that all REAL dads work was something I found almost offensive. When our son was born we decided that we wanted a full-time parent at home, and he was the natural choice since I earned more, had better benefits and better working hours, and actually liked my job. We recently made the decision for my husband to return to work part-time and I assure you he was no less a real dad before than he is now.

sillyna511
sillyna511

I had the same thoughts as you did. While both my husband & I work, I know a few REAL dads who stay at home with their children.
If they can afford to stay home, and their wives enjoy going to work, then I say they should be PRAISED. They are being REAL dads - their work is the caring for their children day in, and day out, and their work is keeping the house tidy. They are truly there for the kids, like Dan says they should be.
So I fully agree with you that a REAL dad can be a stay at home dad and be a hard worker at home.
My recent post Whew!!

Amy
Amy

I had the same reaction since my husband is also a stay at home dad and has been since our daughter was 4 months old. She's now almost 8. It works amazingly well for us and it was all by choice, not due to him not being able to provide an income. Please don't disparage, even unintentionally, the men who choose to be stay at home parents to their children. They are definitely real Dad's even if they don't bring in an income.

Krystal
Krystal

This is kind of what I thought, too. I love the idea of an endlessly hard-working father, who never fails to have enough time to shower his family with extra love, too. However, sometimes it's just not the reality. I'm happy that Christine and her husband have found a way to make things work for them, and I'm not sure I like the implication that anything otherwise is less than a "Real Dad."
My recent post "Let it ring."

Maria
Maria

Honestly, this post rubbed me the wrong way. My father was never as perfect as yours, and it's impossible to count the number of times his work came first - because he was scared that if it didn't, he wouldn't have a job the next day. Which is the stress a lot of family bread-winners are under.

Not everybody has it as 100% together as your father, and implying that people who don't aren't REAL parents is (albeit I'm sure unintentionally) condescending and flat out rude. Please watch your sweeping generalizations.

IamLegion
IamLegion

Yes, I found a sweeping generalization to the article, myself. There is also a certain amount of luck that goes into being able to better oneself - opportunities arising, business climate being conducive, etc. You can work your butt off & not get anywhere if you accidentally chose the wrong field (for example). I find the tone of the article is that hard work alone is responsible for success, & if you aren't rich, you're lazy, & I find that unfair.

Cait
Cait

You'd be surprised at how many facets of our society in the U.S. are based on this Protestant ethic. From shaming welfare recipients, all the way down to loitering laws, it is a fairly sweeping assumption about people who choose not to work.

Jen Z
Jen Z

I loved the whole thing, except for the part about dads staying home. I know two wonderful stay at home dads, and it works for their families. Moms are, in both cases, teachers, and when they get home, kids are clean and happy, dinner is just about on the table, laundry is done, chores are done, and mom comes home to a stable, happy home.

Being a stay at home parent, I assure you, doesn't make you lazy or unmotivated. Staying home is a lot of work if you're doing it right. Stay at home dads are a new phenomenon, but as women are climbing corporate ladders and becoming more involved with their jobs, I suspect we are going to see a rise in stay at home dads, especially in families that don't want to put their kids in daycare.

Re: ROXANNE You go girl - get out there and kick some ass!

E Rose Moore
E Rose Moore

i guess i've been the real dad to my two boys for years! i am a mother, but all of what you've described here as what a real dad does are things that i have done out of sheer determination that my children would not ever go without provisions or love. they got neither from their father. i carried the family in both capacities even when i stayed with him, allowing him to bleed our family dry out of a misguided attempt to "save the family." what actually saved the family was when i left him, but that is off topic. anyway, i continued to be what you call a real dad on my own, too, and it was much easier without a leech. i did often have to rely on assistance and charity, but i used it as a stepping stone and am now able to leap off of it with my sons. now, i'm lucky to have found a man who is joining our family as the real dad :) it's a relief and a rare thing to find a man who is as determined to provide for a family as a mother is, even more rare when he is not the biological father. i am lucky...my sons are as well. my fiance is more than a father...he is a real dad :)

Kris Q
Kris Q

Great post. I agree that real dad's set an example and spend time with their kids. I think some consideration should be given to men who work full-time as dads. Just many women have chosen to stay home and raise their kids rather than work outside the home, today many couples find that mom's income is greater, and dad is the one who stays home. If a Real Mom can go to work and still be a good mom, then aReal Dad can stay at home with his kids and still teach them the things that they need to learn from a dad.

anitrac
anitrac

Beautiful post! I, too, had a Real Dad. He went to work, worked hard and gave his all, but left work at work. He came home at the same time most days and sat down to dinner with us. I never remember him bringing stress home from work, but immediatly being available for his wife (whom he kissed and danced with in the kitchen while we squealed) and 6 children. He could have been a little more ambitious, but felt the cost of time away from his family was too high a price to pay. He passed away several years ago, and to his credit, all of his children agree that we could not have asked for a better father.

As a single mom, I am exasperated by men my age who do not understand the concept and responsibility of being Real Men and Real Dads. Thank you, Dan! Well said! And to you all you mothers and fathers of boys out there, please own your responsibility of bringing up your boys to be Real Men and Real Dads so my daughter can experience the beauty of it :)

E Rose Moore
E Rose Moore

bringing up my boys like that as best i can! :D