Sunday, June 17, 2012

On Fathers, a Lesson for my Children

Our kids on daddy's fire engine.

My kids' daddy is the man who lives with them, takes care of them, who loves their mommy, and who also gave them their DNA and ancestry.  All of these things, combined, for them, makes what is "father."  They will probably never hear someone say a bad word about him.  They will also never be asked an ignorant or nosy question or be told who their father can or cannot be whether based on nature or nurture.  They have a mother and an adoptive grandfather who are examples that not all daddies are involved the same way theirs is.  There are different connections, different relationships, and for some, no relationship at all.  They have four grandfathers, a biological one they won't hear me talk much about, a step-grandfather they'll get to see every so often, their grandfather through my adoption, and their grandfather through their daddy.  They have more great-grandfathers than they can count because several of their grandfathers' fathers were divorced and remarried.

There are lots of people out there who have fathers of different types of connections and levels of involvement (or lack thereof).  There is no one equation of X + X = father; doing so always leaves someone out, leaves someone as having the definition of "no father," and in many cases, is based on privilege rather than reality.  My rule of thumb has been for a while: whose father is it?  How do they feel?  However they feel, then that's who their father is.  This is why you won't hear me use the word "sperm donor" as an insult.  I know several donor conceived folk who cherish their biological fathers, he is a father to them, and that's their right to establish not mine to negate.

So it's on this day that we, some happily, some mournfully, some indifferently, and some all of the emotions in-between, ponder fathers.  I wish peace and comfort to all those still looking for fathers, including donor fathers and first fathers, and to those who have lost their fathers.

If I want my children to know anything about fathers it's that what "father" means is different to everyone.  They will have friends, as I do, whose love or lack thereof for their fathers won't be readily understood.  I hope I can raise them to appreciate their own fathers and grandfathers while giving others room, support, and friendship, to embrace their own fathers how they choose.  The day one of my kids first sticks up for someone whose family is being questioned or teased is the day you'll hear me hooting and hollering in glee all over the place.

Have a Blessed Father's Day