There are a lot of men out here acting every day in ways that are simultaneously ordinary and extraordinary—ordinary because they are actions every good parent takes; extraordinary because the picture of a father or stepfather fully involved and engaged in daily child-rearing is still so far outside our conception of “normal.”
Are you willing to use your own dad gifts and talents to stretch beyond what’s “normal” fathering in the New Year?
“Normal” means that men, women and our larger culture simply assume that men should (and will) occupy the traditional boxes of “provider” and “protector,” leaving it nearly impossible for most of us to even conceptualize fathers having an impact on their children beyond bringing home the bacon.
“Normal” means that women will rearrange their lives for family, but society labels a man who does that as weird, irresponsible or perverted. It takes real bravery to resist those pressures and develop a new normal for yourself and your family.
And here’s an important question for readers who are not fathers or stepfathers:
What are you doing today to and for all the good dads who challenge the norms at work, at home, and in society-at-large about what it means to be a good father and what it means to create (sometimes out of whole cloth) time to fully and truly nurture children?
Because unless we all support fathers and stepfathers (and their dad gifts) in creating new fathering norms, the next generation of young men and women will remain unable to imagine a different, better picture of what is possible in family life.
So, tell us what you’ll do this year to stretch yourself as a dad—and support all the good dads who challenge what’s “normal.”
Joe Kelly is the best-selling author of Dads and Daughters: How to Inspire, Understand, and Support Your Daughter and 5 other fathering books. He is also Co-Founder of New Moon Girls.