Father’s Day is not as popular as Mother’s Day. To begin with, we spend half as much on gifts for dads than they spend on us. And yet, fathers have a huge influence on us and deserve as much recognition as—sometimes more than—mothers. There are three fathers who have shaped and continue to shape my life and those of my kids, and to them, I dedicate this post.

From my father—a PhD and many-times published author—I inherited the reading and writing bug. Every Saturday when I was a child, he would take my sister and me to a bookstore, where we would spend our weekly allowance on books. He never rushed us out of the store. And now libraries and bookstores are where I take my kids for weekend outings. I am a writer by trade, even though he wanted me to be a marine biologist. I also owe my bilingualism to my dad. He worked from sunrise to sunset and beyond to pay for my expensive bilingual education. So far, I’m failing at giving my kids that gift to the same extent. We started running together when I was a kid. I still run, and I’ve completed half-marathons. He was also a model of self-discipline, and that shaped my determination to get things done.

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Although we could not make our marriage work, we still raise our children together. It’s not easy to co-parent when you live 100 miles apart, but we make it happen. We had to sign a mandatory parenting schedule that we don’t abide by, because we believe in putting our kids before our differences. Whenever I have to travel for work, he takes the girls, and if he’s the one leaving town, I’ll step in. Now that we aren’t together, he takes on a lot of responsibilities that I used to bear the brunt of when we were married: from enrolling the girls in school to scheduling a doctor’s appointment. If we weren’t both equally involved in our girls´ lives, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have received a letter from a teacher commending us on our co-parenting skills and our kids being so well-adjusted. The twinkle in my girls´eyes when they speak of their super-daddy speaks for itself.

My significant other of the past four years—and hopefully many more to come—often wonders whether he is a good father. To me, that is the trademark of a good parent. I’ve never heard him yell at his son or at my daughters. He helps me create a safe and respectful environment for our kids at home. I’ve watched him read patiently to his son for many hours, and strive to answer my children’s most difficult questions. He will take them all for an ice cream so I can meet a deadline, or join us at the amusement park even though he has a strong aversion to roller coasters. He makes sure the garbage is taken out, the car is scheduled for a tune-up and the pool is clean. He does all those things I won’t do. He models reliability and strives to be a man his son can be proud of. I hope I convey to him often enough that he makes me proud too.

So Happy Father´s Day to the three dads in my life, and to all others who deserve the recognition and thank yous they may not get on a daily basis. What fathers have shaped your life or that of your kids, and how will you honor them on Father’s Day?


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