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Daddies Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Mary Margaret C.
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 16 No. 3, May-June 1999, pp. 102-103

When I was a child, I used to look at other kids' dads and think with disgust, “Ugh! I'd never want him for a dad!” I was perfectly satisfied with the dad I had and couldn't imagine myself with another. Other children's fathers always had something “wrong” with them: one was too strict, another was too old, one talked too loudly, and another was even too hairy!

Now I am delighted to be married to a man who is covered with hair, except on the top of his head, which is completely bald. My children do not seem to find this disgusting. Even as the top of his head has changed in appearance, Reid has changed size and shape a few times since I've met him-even since the children “met” him! Whatever shape he's in, Reid is a different person from any other daddy.

Even as I once did, my children take for granted - and perhaps feel relieved - that the father they have is exclusively theirs. However, I have sometimes been at fault for comparing Reid with some ideal I carry around in my head - and I think I see in other dads. I have to remind myself that the father I see at a friend's house is only part of the whole person who lives day-to-day with those children. I may be treated to seeing him at his best, but I have the privilege of knowing my husband in all his “shapes and sizes.”

Reid and I don't always agree on how to raise our children, and we certainly have different parenting styles; we came from very different families. Reid tends to be more authoritarian; I tend to rely on empathetic listening. Both have their value, and I have humbly (and with relief) had to admit that sometimes authority has stepped in and saved the day. An authority figure with consistent moral and ethical values, which Reid models, offers our children a reliable strength, and I can see the effects of this now that they are older and spend a large part of their lives with their peers.

When our children were babies. Reid wasn't particularly comfortable with them. He seemed happiest contributing half the chromosomes, washing the dishes, and providing income! I remember wondering then if our children would ever bond with him. I would see toddlers at Area Conferences who seemed to have as much fun with their fathers as they did with their mothers, and I would think that our family was missing something. As time went by, however, I came to understand my husband better. It wasn't that Reid didn't love our little people enough to want to know them; he just needed to be able to talk to them and reason with them to form a relationship.

I enjoy the differences, the richness, the companionship, the humor, and the dependence that our children share with their father as they have grown. They still need me for certain aspects of their fulfillment; yet, as they have evolved out of the baby years, it has become clearer to me why our family needs two parents. I am grateful for the differences. Our children have learned a lot from relating to two very different people. They also have a family structure that supports them strongly, because Reid and I each have our own strengths to bring to parenting.

How unique each family is! Just like daddies, families come in different shapes and sizes. It's all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking someone else's family comes closer to an imagined ideal. The truth is, every family has its gifts, and each person has gifts to give, allowing that family to be its own ideal.

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