What Do Fathers Do?

By James Jimenez

Fathers are providers for their family, working to ensure that the family has the necessary resources for food, shelter, education, and the luxuries of life. Fathers are protectors, ensuring the safety and well-being of their families both physically and in terms of providing a stable and secure environment. Fathers are role models for their children, exemplifying qualities such as hard work, integrity, and perseverance, shaping their children’s values and behaviors. And fathers are authority figures in the home – making decisions, and charting the future for the family.

Yes. All of that.

But fathers are also nurturers, deeply involved in the emotional and physical nurturing of their children – feeding, bathing, and comforting infants, and rocking them back to sleep in the middle of the night. They also provide emotional support and guidance to older children – kissing a bruised knee or taking a child aside to remind them that they will always regret missing their kid’s piano recital.

Fathers are also supportive partners who don’t just share parenting and household responsibilities with their spouses, but also take a turn as cheerleader. They don’t just take on domestic duties, they also take on the challenge of standing by a partner’s vision which they really don’t personally understand. And they stay at home too, rather than going out with friends for a drink or two – choosing instead to work on school assignments or sit down to dinner together.

Fathers aren’t just role models – they are also champions for their children who have taken different roles from what society expects of them. Fathers may want “Juniors” but they still work hard to turn their homes into accepting environments where all their children are able to feel safe and seen. They are allies when the world is hostile, and dance partners when revels are called for.

And fatherhood is not just a question of biology. Fathers don’t need to be the actual donor of half your DNA. A father can also be the person who saw you and decided he could not go on living without being a part of your life. A father can be the person who met your mother and decided he wanted the package deal. A father can even be the other guy in your family, regardless of what tradition says.

Getting to heart of matters because the heart matters more

Fatherhood is probably not what your father said it would be. As society continues to evolve, so too must our understanding of what being a father means. Most of the old traditional definitions are still good, but they no longer exclusively delineate the metes and bounds of what a father is, or what a father does. Instead, we must look inwards; we must look to our hearts to tell us what being a father entails, what being a father makes us capable of, and what roles we play in the lives of the people who call us Dad.

Happy Father’s Day, everyone.