You just broke your child. Congratulations.
It's a letter to dads about being a dad, about children. I'm not usually responsive to the usual, "relink this for the children" pleas, but this was actually a goddamned good essay.
I apologize for the heatedness of my post. I believe a part of me feels like a coward for not saying something to the man in front of me at Costco. Consider this post to be my penance. Perhaps a part of me feels that if even one person reads this and decides to be a better dad, it was worth every second that I spent typing it. If one child has a better life because something in my words stirred their father to step up their game, then it was worth every ounce of begging and pleading with you to share this with others, of which I am inevitably going to be guilty.
Dads. Children are gifts. They are not ours for the breaking. They are ours for the making. So stand up with me and show the world that there are a lot of good dads around.
To the men and women who read this post... married or not... parent or not... share this post on Facebook and Twitter, even if it doesn't apply to you because you're already all these things. If you've ever seen a father break his child, share it. You never know what child might get his superhero dad back. You never know what tiny spirit might feel just a little more loved because Dad took the time to tuck her in tonight.
All because you were willing to paste one link and ask others to read it.
He asked for stories about good dads in the comments, and I'm betting that readers here will want one as well. If you've got a story about awesome dadness, I'd love you to post it here, but I'd love it even more if you went and posted it there. Here's mine.
My mother's third husband is an awesome dad. If I liked something that girls traditionally didn't, he got enthused and geeked out over his stepdaughter wanting to build a fort in the woods, or go squirrel hunting, or wanting to hit the military surplus store, or wanting to watch The History Channel all day, mall be damned. He was the one who finally convinced my mother that I needed an eye exam, and probably glasses. He was the only one who believed me when I said I couldn't see through one of my eyes, and I never forgot how jarring it was to speak to an adult and be believed.
I was once being bullied in junior high, and it almost turned into a fight. I think, looking back, that I would have been willing to do far worse to her than she would have to me, just because I was scared and she was merely pissed and insecure. It didn't come to blows, but the school was going to suspend both of us as part of their zero tolerance policy toward fighting.
He went to that administrator's office--in uniform--and asked her how in the hell she, as a woman, could tell another young woman that she deserves to be punished because she was victimized. That it wasn't just her fault, but that she was to be equally punished. I took great comfort in knowing that he made her cry.
My biological father? Eh. I could go on about him, but he's not as large a part of my life anymore. The guy I refer to when I say "my dad" is the third man my mother married, and I'm glad she had the freedom to shop around. I ended up with a guy who didn't want to silence his mouthy sharp-tongued little girl; he just made sure I could defend myself if someone brought me trouble because of it.
He taught me that it's good to stand up for people who need it, but even better to make sure it's safe for them to do it themselves. That's a hell of a good dad move right there.