Home Leadership – Father's Week

Home Leadership – Fathers Week


“Sorry. We did not find any results with the search terms you provided. Please try your search again.” I’ll leave you to wonder for a second what I was searching for on the Barnes & Noble magazine database.  Frustrated at finding nothing, I searched for “parents” and got 59 results.  Of the first 10, one had only text on the cover; of those with cover photos, nine had babies or toddlers, seven had moms (or mom-models), and one had a dog.  Maybe you can guess who was missing.  I went through the other 6 screens of 10 magazines at the site.  Kudos to Family Digest and Catholic Digest – the only ones with a dad (the former, further exceptional in that it had an African American family). Oh, the first search of course was for “dad” or “fathers” – no magazines turned up.

With Father’s Day ahead I’m thinking about dads and moms.  Cheers to moms!!! Especially those who parent the 30% of all American children who won’t have a dad present at home. Moms are rocking it out.  Not just leading at home but often at work as well.

And kudos to so many dads stepping up in new ways. But Man! we’ve got a long way to go with so many men not stepping up, and so many of us trying to adjust to the new rules. Still, the future can be golden. As men increasingly step up to the opportunity to lead at home, we’ll have stronger and happier children, grateful and freer women, and men who are more whole and fulfilled.  It’s the trifecta – everyone stands to win!

So as we enter Father’s Week (heck, we need much more than a day), how can we support men as they see and seize this fantastic opportunity to lead at home, and sometimes to lead our wives from behind?!  Here’s some conversation-starter questions and an invitation for you to share yours:

1.  Ask a man this week what’s the best part of being a dad (and or grandpa).

2.  Ask a man to what degree he sees his leading at home as an opportunity and to what degree he sees it as obligation.

3.  Ask a man if it’s better to be a husband/dad/man now, or when his dad was living the role. How does he see the role changed and changing?

4.  Ask a man what he was raised to think “strength” is, and what he would say “strength” is today.

5.  Ask a boy what he thinks about becoming a stay-at-home dad for part of his period of child-rearing when he grows up.

I wonder two more things and invite your thoughts about them and/or the conversation-starters above. First, to men in particular: are you more comfortable talking about these things with a woman or with another man? Talk to me!  To men and women: how (or should we) change the way we are raising men in this world of women’s ascendancy? How do we prepare boys for roles that men my age were never trained for?

It’s a cool time to be a dude.  I only wish I had more years and more young children to continue to learn to be a good dad and to

Lead with my best self,


  • Dan, I think you and your wife have been amazing parents. Granted I have only had limited opportunities to see you interact with your kids but they have always been positive and heartwarming. Contrasted with my own experience with my ex-husband who had to be dragged into fatherhood and who does the superficial things to make it appear he is a good father but in my book he is sorely lacking. A good parent cares about the needs of their child(ren) and does not put their own selfish interests first. My own parents did their best to provide for their children.

  • Dan,

    The best part of being a Dad is agressively pursuing an opportunity to make a difference in the life of the children you have been blessed to raise.

    It is an opportunity to see a direction a child is going and you seize the momement to add influence to get them on the right track. It is an obligation to care for the child in the most basic needs.

    Unfortunately I did not have my biological father raise me, but I was blessed with a wonderful example in an Uncle. Looking back on how he raise his own children as well as myself, I dont think the rules have changed. For each man is a product of his time; therefore, has all the tools inside of him to raise the current generation. Each man has to look inside himself because there is no such thing as a child raising playbook.

    “A wise man knows that he knows nothing” Knowing that from the beginning is all the strenght anyone needs.

    I do find that speaking to men regarding these things are easiest, when they themselves are fathers who are active in the lives of thier children, and those that had a good example or mentor. Come this July, I will be resposible for upbringing 3 boys. No girls as of yet. My hopes is that my boys are the ones that are the “night in shining armor” to thier generation. They will not be perfect, they will make mistakes, but I hope not the big ones that cost them their character or thier life. I want them to lead with thier best selves.

    • David,
      Thanks for your reflections. How great that your uncle rose to the task.
      I hope the July arrival is healthy and brings you more joy, as I’m sure he will.

  • Dan,

    I appreciate the article—in particular as one of the 30 % of families who is raising a child without a man in the home. Your challenge at the end: “To men and women: how (or should we) change the way we are raising men in this world of women’s ascendancy? How do we prepare boys for roles that men my age were never trained for?” makes me wonder… is really about training? My first assumption is that it is more about values than anything else. A values (maybe this is the training) discussion would probably make this Father’s Week discussion a little deeper and more impactful in the long-term.

    • Kristen,
      Thanks for your thoughts. I accept your addition. The upbringing must be about values. The question still remains for me: How DO we prepare our boys for this changed world?

  • Dan,

    I think that the best part of being a dad IS being a grandpa. Seeing my own kids every day limited my ability to see them grow. Each time my grandkids come to visit, they have changed dramatically — even after a single week. I tell them stories about growing up more than 50 years ago (when I was close to their ages) and they look at me like I lived on another planet. I tell them stories about their Dad when he was their age and they laugh and gasp and seek confimation from my son. (Who, of course, denies everything). I can feel the connections forming across the years with each visit. Every conversation opens new perspectives and vistas for both my grandsons (who live locally) and for me.

    I was raised to view my fatherhood first, as an obligation to support and protect; and second, as an opportunity to guide and nurture. In a Scottish/Irish family, the father was patriarch and carried the full weight of responsibility for the safety and prosperity of his family. In some ways, that weight helped glue our family together. I was first a Dad, then a buddy.

    It is infinetly more interesting to be a Dad now, but incredibly more scary. In my day, we had less access to media and “the outside,” so it was easier for my parents to supervise and limit our exposure to predators.

    Now, of course, we are all interconnected, and with all those connections, it is harder to reinforce family values and relationships — which tend to get lost in the clutter. A man must still be strong enough to protect his family, but he needs a new kind of strength — the kind that compels his children to listen to the sound of his voice and truly hear the wisdom and values he must impart. One cannot prevent their exposure to dangerous and ill conceived risks, one must prepare them to meet those challenges — and at a much earlier age than in my day.

    Max Weber said: “I sleep and dream that life is joy; I awoke and saw that life is duty; I behaved and saw that duty became joy.”

    Perhaps for today’s Dad, I would write: “I slept and dreamed that life is opportunity; I awoke and saw that life is obligation; I behaved and saw that obligation became opportunity.”

  • Hi Dan,
    The ontological sense of being a father transcends the biology of the phenomenon. In discussions a few years back, a friend (an Oncologist @ Henry Ford, W.B.) noted the importance of being a father to a daughter. He noted that being a good father can shape a girl’s sense of self, sense of worth, and expectation for a healthy relationship with men as she grows up. A daughter needs to have a sense that there can be a healthy loving relationship with a man with No alternatives or additional expectations. She needs to know that she is important for who she is. She needs to know that healthy relationships are possible and right. Also, for a son, he needs to know what a healthy relationship, an equal and loving relationship, can be with a woman (through his father’s example whenever possible) and that some of the time (not all of the time) it can last for a long while. “From those to whom much is given, much is expected” (Luke). Being a father is the best gift any man can ever receive. He has to earn through his example the right for having this gift. Fathers Day (and Mothers Day) are profoundly importsnt days of recognition (and memory).
    Because there are so many single women raising children, uncles and other family or friends can help to let children understand healthy and supportive relationships (Big Brothers, Big Sisters, or others filling such roles). Fathers Day (or week or year) should remind ALL men of the importsnce of respect and kindness and to be circumspect, knowing that every time they open their mouths they raise someone up or they crucify them. We must never underestimate the power we have to be a positive (or negative) influence on another person. Happy Fathers Day to Fathers and to all men.
    Enjoy being a father & a responsible human being. It is remarkable.
    Dan, you’re a good man and I highly suspect that this translates very directly into your parenting. I think your kids did a good job of picking out their parents.
    Best regards,

  • Dan,

    I am a single mom. I have had my son on the big brother’s list since he was nine…he turns 15 this year and I have given up. I was hoping a man out there might want to be a role to a young man. I don’t have any family in Michigan and I don’t date. I hope some of your readers see there and maybe step up for another young man…dad has so many meanings but a dependable loving man is a great place to start your role modeling.

    • Kathy,
      Your story is heart-breaking. I hope it moves somebody to become a mentor.
      One thought I have for you: Encourage your son to identify his own mentor. It may not be someone who can see him every week, but someone who will spend some time with him from time to time.
      I tell adults the same thing: don’t wait for a mentor, find one. See if you can encourage (or even help him to make the ask) to find someone he admires and see if they’d be there for him.
      It’s great that you’re trying to help him gain the strength and assets that can come with a good man in his life.

  • Dan,
    I chose to be a part-time worker and full time Father about 4 years ago. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity. I don’t think that I could have chosen for myself a more fulfilling life and blessed opportunity. Still, surprisingly enough, I still struggle with what I refer to as my “biological career clock ticking”. Though my wife is a most amazing leader, achiever, provider and mother, I still struggle with a feeling of needing to be able to provide financially for my family if called upon. I find myself feeling the loss of a career wondering if I will be able to regain one after my children are grown.

    To me these emotions are paradoxical. I could not ask for a better, more fulfilling way to spend these years of my life because watching and supporting my amazing children (and wife) is a daily privelage. Yet something in my wiring creates an internal struggle. I cannot identify how much of the struggle is individual in me and how much might be culturally based. When I figure this out I will let you know :-). In the meantime, I will continue “reading for leading” so that I might better understand myself. Thanks!

    • Howard,
      It’s not just you!!!
      At least I feel so many of the same conflicts as you describe. The ambivalence is powerful. And I think that (social) wiring is deeper and more connected in us than we know. Consider the fact that women spent DECADES talking about the messages they were given, how to manage their self-doubt, how to continue to be “feminine,” etc.
      I thank you for sharing so candidly and hope you’ll stay in touch as I find ways to try to stimulate discussion among men like you are who are leading in the most important place of all. Please stay in touch!

  • Thank you so much for raising awareness of parenting issues! I am a Family and Consumer Science (FCS) teacher. So often I hear, “Where are young people receiving instruction on parenting?” and “Why is it not included in the high school curriculum?” There are many teachers throughout Michigan who are teaching parenting, child development and other courses that focus on how to create and maintain a healthy family environment. The FCS educators have many resources and talents to encourage students as they explore numerous examples of healthy family relationships. The students learn how to nuture children to become confident adults who will carry out parenting roles based on the environment they grew up in.

    Parenting (guidancing children) is a role that most adults will experience through raising children in their home, extended family or friendship relations, or by volunteering or working in the community. Thus, it is equally important the both males and females are exposed to the FCS curriculum. What a fine example Michigan would be if all school districts were encouraged to offer such a course to all students! The positive effects on the future of children and families in our state would be tremendous!

    Your questions are extremely well thought out. I will use those with my students next year. Thank you!

    • Cynthia,
      Thanks for writing here – and much more for what you do in the classroom. When we think about our workplaces, communities, and of course our homes, it seems crazy that we nearly ignore the fact that 30% of children are raised in homes where there’s no dad – and often, I presume, will repeat that into the next generation. Yet we have to know it’s best to have two active parents.
      I am honored that you found my questions useful and that you’ll offer them for discussion and reflection by your students next year!
      Keep leading with your best!

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