Baumgartner Vaughan: The meaning of fatherhood

Jun. 14, 2014 @ 06:30 PM

What is fatherhood?
Fatherhood is standing in public holding a miniature Dora the Explorer backpack and acting like it’s no big deal, because it isn’t. As a father, you hold your kids’ stuff, whether it’s Dora or princesses or Iron Man. And you play with them, too.
Fatherhood is holding your child’s hand as long as they’ll let you.
Fatherhood is telling your boss you’re headed out to pick up your kid from school. Fatherhood is being the boss that says, “Sure, see you later.”
Fatherhood is going to the school meeting and asking questions. Fatherhood is volunteering at your kid’s school during lunch and opening ketchup packets.
Fatherhood is giving other fathers’ children high-fives because it’s the role of all men to encourage youth.
Fatherhood is being an example of how men should treat women and everyone else they encounter. Fatherhood is being courteous and kind, but also standing up against wrongdoing and defending others.
Fatherhood is letting your children see you cry so they know it’s OK to express grief or joy that way. Fatherhood is offering comfort and praise.
Fatherhood is working hard at your job, but also looking out for other fathers so that the custodians can have the same time off with their families that the CEOs do. Fatherhood is teaching your children that while money is necessary to live, people are of the most value.
Fatherhood is saving a little time for your own interests but reserving most of your time for your family’s interests. Fatherhood is embracing new fun things to do together.
Fatherhood is acknowledging your own accomplishments but not bragging about them. Fatherhood is not living off the past but showing what you can do in the future. Fatherhood is apologizing for mistakes and doing what needs to be done to make up for them.
Fatherhood is stepping up, because once a child comes into your life, it’s not about you anymore. Fatherhood is buying your kid new shoes before you buy yourself new shoes, or not buying them for yourself at all.
Fatherhood is being an example to more children than just your own. Fatherhood is living a life of integrity so that young boys learn what a father should be. Fatherhood is being a man that boys and girls see as dependable and kind.
Fatherhood is thanking and supporting those who pick up parenting duties when you are unable to be there. Fatherhood is falling down and getting back up. Fatherhood is to keep on keeping on. Fatherhood is a chance to help make the world a better place.
Happy Father’s Day, everyone, to those who are technically fathers and those who do the work of fatherhood.
Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan may be reached at or 919-419-6563. On Twitter: @dawnbvaughan.