As Father’s Day approaches, much of the recognition goes to biological dads.
But there are fathers who choose to be a guardian from love alone, not biology. These are the men who step up to parent children they didn’t conceive. These men might not have been the fathers during their gestation, anxiously waiting to count fingers and toes and see the little face. They might not have been there for the birth, but they come into a child’s life and choose to stay.
More than that, these dads—the fathers of the heart—choose to love these children as their own.
I cannot say enough about these types of men. As a single mom, most of the men I’ve dated looked at my children as an inconvenience, an obstacle, or a challenge. Even though I didn’t introduce my children to them, just the fact that I had to get a babysitter to go out was often seen as an annoyance. I truly didn’t believe I would ever meet someone who would love them like his own.
I don’t really endorse the whole “step-parent” thing—step-parents, step-siblings, half-siblings, and so on. I think families should always be considered whole. Brothers are brothers. And parents are parents. I believe that, but I was skeptical that I would ever find a man who would want to be a voluntary father to my children. Their father is still involved in their lives, so I thought it would have to be enough.
Happily, I’ve met a man who not only wants to be a part of my life, but their lives too. From the moment he met them, after a lot of thought and consideration, he’s treated them like his own. He was never a father before, but he fell in love with my children while he fell in love with me. He’s as much their dad as we would be if he’d stood holding my hand when they were born.
While I didn’t believe it was possible, I certainly wouldn’t have settled for anything less for my babies.
He learned to be a good father from his own fathers. Coming from a blended family, he had the benefit of seeing what a family could be when both the biological and step-father were 100 percent loving and supportive. He had a father of the blood and one of the heart. And his father of the heart stepped up every day to love and care for him, just as if he were his own.
Now, he’s doing the same—defining family by love and not just biology.
What makes fathers of the heart so wonderful?
>> They love our children, and they aren’t afraid to tell them.
>> They don’t treat them differently than their own children (if they have any). They treat them like their own.
>> They aren’t just the “fun” parents; they also help with the less-than-fun aspects of parenting, like backing us up on rules, discipline, and helping out with the daily routine.
>> They don’t have to be in their lives; they choose to be there.
>> They realize our children are a gift that makes their lives better and never—ever—look at our children as an annoyance or inconvenience.
>> They enjoy spending time with the children and doing family things.
>> They give our children more support and love by being in their lives.
>> They are proud of our children, just like we are.
Not every father is the father at conception, but there are fathers in the world who step up because they want to, not because they have to. These fathers don’t always get the recognition. Maybe they’re just Mommy or Daddy’s “boyfriend” or “partner” and not considered a parent at all. But children don’t care about the official status; they care about who loves and supports them. They care about who parents them and protects them. And these dads do this every day.
Father’s Day is a wonderful time to celebrate all the different kinds of fathers that exist—the full-time dads, the single dads, the part-time dads, the grandfathers, the great-grandfathers, and all of the fathers of the heart who volunteer every day to be a part of our lives.
Here’s to the fathers who show up and show love!
May each and every one of them have a Happy Father’s Day!
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: YouTube Still
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Supervising editor 1: Yoli Ramazzina
Supervising Editor 2: Catherine Monkman