A few days ago, ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir interviewed a group of children and asked each of them to describe their dad in one word. “Funny,” “cool,” and “amazing” were a few of the responses. I turned to Felix and asked him to describe his Dad in one word. Ever the non-conformist, Felix gave me not one but two words: Nice and Kind. Tears formed in his eyes as he said these words and he felt compelled to run over and give his Daddy a hug.
Nice and kind. Two simple words that carry huge significance - especially from the perspective of a child. I began to think about how and why Felix would use these words to describe his Dad. Certainly, he feels this way because his Daddy is nice and kind to him on a personal level. I have always been the disciplinarian and Brendan has served as a nice counterbalance to my rather firm style of parenting. More importantly, I think Felix observes his Dad being nice and kind to others. He observes his dad being kind and respectful to me on a daily basis. Felix pays great attention to how his dad speaks to others and the genuineness in his tone and interactions with everyone from Judges in the courthouse to the differently abled guy who bags our groceries at the grocery store. Niceness and kindness are more than adjectives - they are actions that Felix has witnessed his Dad breathe into life. Of course, no one is perfect and Brendan has his moments, but I think at the end of the day, his default position is kindness. Even when it doesn't necessarily show (as many who know him from our work could attest).
As for me, there are many words that I would use to describe Brendan as a father. My words are not as simple as my sons. Brendan is exceedingly patient, far more than I am. He feeds Felix’s curiosity and challenges him to think outside of the box. Most importantly, Brendan provides a safe space for Felix to express his emotions - no matter what they are or how deeply he feels them. Felix knows he can count on his Dad to be there for him when he’s sad, angry, scared, and uncertain. He knows his Dad is there to talk to him as long as he needs and always without any judgment. Sure, Felix gets that from me as well - but there is something different when it comes from your Dad. Not better or worse, just different. Perhaps that is what I appreciate the most. Felix knows that he can receive that emotional security from his Mom and his Dad. I am eternally grateful for this on Father's Day and every day.
Nice and kind. Two simple words that mean so much. As co-parents, it means even more to me that our son can formulate this image of his Father in light of our unique family situation. I hope that today you all will take a moment and reflect on what makes your co-parent a great Dad and share those thoughts with your child(ren). Ask your child(ren) how they would describe their Dad share those sentiments with him either verbally or in a crafty card. I’m sure the Dad in your life will love to be recognized for his efforts and, best of all, your children will know the ways in which you appreciate their dad as well.
Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Thanks for all you do for your children. - V