Men of Distinction:: A Tribute to Those who Stand Up for Children without Fathers

The grandfathers, uncles, and friends who stand up and fill the role of father to children in their lives are to be celebrated. 

It’s only been a few times, because most of the time he calls him Papa. He writes it on cards and draws on pictures. But a few times, my son will call my dad Daddy. I mean, I guess it makes sense. My dad goes to baseball games with him, watches cartoons with him, and shows up at Doughnuts with Dad. He even has his my dads’s name, and most importantly, he loves him. Since I call him Daddy, my son does too.

Our culture is not one that welcomes children out of wedlock. And to be honest, neither did I. But as many precautions as I took- and I took them all- here we are. And the road to Grandpa and Grandson for life was quite rocky because of all this. But as soon as my son turned about 6 months old, my dad fell in love with him. He couldn’t talk, but my dad would not go to the store without buying him candy {which of course I had to eat, right?} Once he was attempting to crawl on the dining room table, my dad said to me, “If he wants to climb up the table, help him up there.” Whaa??? Yeah, now they get matching Christmas suits, and my dad lets him eat ice cream before dinner—they’re besties. And I love every minute of it.

Men with children in family picture

I know my dad had to swallow his pride to admit that his daughter was a single mom, and it’s still kind of the elephant in the room at family functions. But I appreciate him for knowing that a child is a gift from God, no matter how they get here. As a child, my dad was often the one who showed up at our events, and made magic when it was time to pay a million dollars for my high school drill team, or my clarinet in middle school. In grad school, I received a letter in the mail that someone had anonymously purchased my Masters Degree photos—and I knew it was him.

Two boys with uncles

I remember my dad’s authentic joy every Christmas when we surprised him with ties from the Dollar Store—or better yet, from his own closet. He is amiable and kind and makes friends in the Wal-Mart. He’s proud of his Christian faith, but has grown extraordinarily close to our Muslim neighbors, and when we go to their shop we never pay for anything. I love my dad for raising 4 girls and 1 boy with my mom. I love my dad for instilling faith, generosity and love for humankind in my heart. I love my dad for every struggle he has {and will} overcome.

My dad is struggling with his health now, and its painful to watch. But the pain is quickly wiped away when my dad seems to decrease in years when my son walks into his room. Or when I visit my dad and he tells me that he’s counting down to my son’s 5th birthday because he is so excited to celebrate with him. My dad almost disowned me when I didn’t pick him for my son’s Boy Scout Meeting.

Baby on bed

But this post isn’t just for my dad. It’s for my brother who watches basketball with my son, and tells him to listen to his mom. It’s for the dads in the Boy Scout Troop who treat my son like their own. It’s for my friend’s husband who watches him so his wife and I can hang out with our friends. It’s for the church greeter who adjusts my little guy’s tie, and to every man who shows my son both now and in the future what it really means to be a man.

This is for all the fathers without children, and the ones who stand up for the children without fathers.


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