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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

A Tribute to Modern Dads

Children no longer run just to their mother. Today, they run to their mother and father. So who is this Modern Dad? According to John Badalament, author of The Modern Dad’s Dilemma, “Over the last half-century, women have traveled a great distance from home into the world of work...Modern dads are just starting out on the road that leads back home. Being a father is not something you are; it’s something you do.”

A modern dad is pro-active. He leaves work early to make a game and stays up late with a sick child. You find him pushing strollers, changing diapers and attending parent-teacher conferences at school. The modern dad is determined to show up for his family and pay more attention to what really matters: relationships at home.

Badalament describes modern dads as wanting connection, closeness, and intimacy: “Unlike fathers of generations past, whose lives were so often cloaked in silence and mystery.” Today dads want to be the competent, caring, and supportive parents and partners they are capable of becoming.

We are fortunate to have some local dads share their insights and even a little survival advice about their experiences.

Ukiah resident Keith Dobbs, husband for 27 years and father of 2 explains: “My 23 year old son just got married, and it really amazed me at how much of an emotional time it was being a part of my baby boy’s wedding. It seemed like just yesterday he was learning how to walk and now I just watched him walk down the aisle. It most definitely brought a tear to my eye.

It’s amazing how fast the time goes by. So make sure to savor every moment. Never put off doing anything, like that fishing trip you have been talking about or that tree house you keep meaning to build. Because everything that you thought you would have time for never happens.

There is nothing in the whole world like being a father, so have no fear and just jump in with both feet. Enjoy every moment and learn from any mistakes, no one is perfect and all you can do is try your best. Make sure your kids know that you are always there for them, no matter what they might possibly do, good or bad.”

With the rapidly changing roles local dad Gary Trippier let ‘being a dad’ guide him. “Being a dad is not different than what I expected because I honestly had no clue what it would be like. It turns out I had nothing to fear and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Being a dad is a lot of hard work and it is all day, everyday, but much more fun than you would think.

The kids know how to keep you on your toes and you end up feeling so much younger because of it. Your kids may wear you out, more than likely they are doing so while putting a smile on your face! Its surprising how almost everyday you are learning something new and different, kids end up teaching you about yourself without even knowing it.

It's so wonderful how much they light up when you walk into a room, or when you walk through the front door. Never forget how much those kids look up to you, and try to always make them proud.

But remember to make time for your spouse because along with being a dad you are also a husband. The kids are 24/7 but you really need to take time out for your spouse to show them you still love them and to make sure that you are both on the same page.”

Sage Sangiacomo, has learned more than parenting skills from being a modern dad. “My wife would say that I am becoming somewhat of a skilled parade float designer and decorator. Each year our sons play soccer and participates in the Ukiah PumpkinFest parade. It has become a family tradition that we all look forward to. It’s a chance for us to brainstorm creatively and we have a great time putting the float together. I must admit, that being a parent is even more rewarding than I ever dreamed possible. Our boys can change my day with a smile, laugh, or hug. It’s an amazing thing to have your heart walking around outside of your body.”

James Baldwin, the author and activist once said: “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” The Modern dad is setting the standards for the quality of relationships. Sangiacomo says he and his wife, “... strive to work as a team, to present a united front you might say. We try to help each other out and praise one another along with the kids often. Parenting is a lot easier when we are communicating effectively. Of course, we have found that an occasional date night is a wonderful way to stay connected and gives us a chance to unwind…although most of the conversation happily revolves around the kids”.

In his book, Badalament praises the Modern Dads because they are devoting themselves to something or someone greater and bringing themselves more fully and equally into their relationships at home. “Being a dedicated dad, a loving partner or husband, a faithful friend and a committed family and community member requires courage unlike the kind we see depicted in action movies or television dramas. Courage is an inner strength, a strength of the heart.”

About the Author:

The Modern Dad’s Dilemma by John Badalament provides a collection of everyday stories of modern dads as well as practical skills and activities to help you stay connected, both with your children and your partner. It is written for all dads with children of all ages.

John Badalament, EDM, is a Harvard-trained educator, leading expert on fatherhood, and author. He is also the director of the acclaimed PBS documentary All Men Are Sons: Exploring the Legacy of Fatherhood. His work has been featured in the New York Times and other publications. .