There’s a million ways to be a great dad. But the media tends to show us crummy ones, so men, dads, moms, and everyone need far more ideas about the array of behaviors that would qualify as ideal or close enough. No one needs a big rash of judgment – you’re “bad” – when they don’t live up to high social standards. But it’s no favor to the kids to spare ourselves that ego prick when we make a “B” or less effort. The kids need to see us shooting for those “A”s, always. They need to trust that we’re trying on their behalf.
Our growing tolerance for diversity in families is undeniably a good thing. But tolerance can not mean devaluing moms and dads. Every kid needs a mom and a dad, or close facsimiles thereof. There are exceptions, of course, but generally, every effort needs to be made to help dads stay connected with their kids.
Dads matter. Don’t kid yourself. There’s a dad in every kid’s head and heart. Their yearning for their parents is a build-in feature of human-mammalian attachment. When there’s a high-functioning dad in every kid’s life, that’s when we’ll know we’ve got it right.