Authored by: Erin Dixon, Group Home Supervisor
If you ask my 6 year old son, he will tell you that his daddy can do ANYTHING! He will often report that his father is stronger than whomever he is talking to, or that he is faster than everyone in the room. From using the nail gun, to setting up the computer on the television to watch a movie online, my son is convinced that his dad is the best at everything!
When my son walks in the house he will often mimic the way his father enters the room by opening the door. He cracks it at first, and then announces his arrival by saying “Hello, hello? Hello!” as he walks in.
Over the years my son has had a lot of questions about his father because he doesn’t live with us. Actually he has been challenged many times about his father, since he is not biologically linked to him. He has had grown adults making comments such as, “where is your REAL dad?” To which both of us would argue, what is a “REAL dad?” You see, my son has chosen a neighbor as his dad. It happened four years ago when he actually offered since he knew my son’s biological father is not in his life.
Since that time we call him “REAL dad”. He has truly been a father. He has been to performances, birthday parties, family events. As well, he has shown my son how to wash dishes, use power tools, cook meals, start fires, set up tents, tie knots, heal dogs, fold laundry, and how to choose new words when he has said something that sounds “sassy” and disrespectful.
My son knows that his dad is a safe person to go to with questions and fears. Fortunately, every time he has said an “I love you” to his dad, his father has replied in return with an “I love you too son!” His dad has never left without a hug, a kiss, and words of encouragement. My son hears that his father is proud of him, and that he loves him. I cannot think of anything that could make a dad more REAL.
I remind my son that families come in all types. Some families live in one house, some live in two. Some have a mom, some have a dad, some have two moms, or two dads; there can be one parent in one house and two in another, and all of these variations are just as REAL and right and good and valid as any another.
Your family is your tribe. It is the people that stick with you regardless of your behaviors, choices, or distance. My son has a father who is not biologically related to him and who lives four houses away from us, but you know what? He does have the best dad ever!
I hope, especially at this time, that each of us will take time to reflect on who has served that role in our lives, whether it is a biological father, a step – father, a neighbor, a mom, or a character from a story. Take time to appreciate the “REAL dad” in your world and honor yourself by accepting the amazing goodness he, she or it has brought to your growth.
Love the village that has raised you, and be the tribe for the next generation to come 🙂