Father’s Day 2023

Father’s Day weekend is upon us, and whether your family has one Dad, no Dad, two Dads, or more, I hope you’re finding a way to celebrate parenthood. Earlier this week, Dr. Angelique Millet, a sleep consultant I respect, sent this message out and she said it so perfectly, I have to share:

Love makes a family and on this Father’s Day, let’s celebrate Fathers in all their forms. Fatherhood is not simply limited to fathers. Father figures come in so many forms and share their love in so many ways. I want to honor all of these varied ways that fathers and father figures show up in a baby or child’s life. I also want to acknowledge the path of loss, sadness, the struggle to heal past hurts. I acknowledge those fathers and father figures who may be hurting on this day of celebrating fatherhood. I acknowledge fathers who are parenting alone, who have lost their spouse or separated. And I acknowledge the work that fathers and father figures do every day to make the world a better place for their child and children.

And while Father’s Day is pretty much a Hallmark holiday, it can certainly serve to help us slow down and really see the fathers in our lives. I’m so fortunate that the fathers I come into contact with are some of the most down to earth, present, caring and loving people I know. RIE draws these people in because it resonates, and, I believe, helps give parents a way into really knowing their children earlier than they might have otherwise.

I have to say, though, that this Father’s Day is hard for me as it will be the first one without my Dad. Our family never made a big deal over the day, but it still feels strange to approach this day with memories instead of with him. Maybe you’d like to know a little more about him…

In a lot of ways, my Dad was not RIE. In good ways: He was my biggest cheerleader: bragging on me to his co-workers and strangers. He was the epitome of ‘good job’ parenting. And in not-so-great ways: He also had a temper, and would yell and slam doors and wouldn’t often repair after those big outbursts. But more important than too much praise and too much yelling, was the steadfast connection he had with me.

My Dad stayed home for the first two years of my life, caring for me while my Mom worked. I think this shaped our relationship more than anything. Those two years of receiving his care and attention, and those two years of him learning to see me, they connected us.

In our house, Dad was the main cook, and he included me in the weekly grocery shopping and taught me how to cook.

He walked with me when I patrolled the neighborhood to sell Girl Scout Cookies (heck, he even carried a card certifying him as a girl scout), and he had the idea to hit up the local college for sales, which rocketed me to a top seller each year…but he didn’t do the selling for me. He was there strictly for moral support.

He involved me in his work by bringing me to his job and out to do client estimates (he managed a fence company); he even had me do the math on estimates (and paid me), to encourage me to enjoy math (didn’t work) and to connect school to life (that did).

One day in middle school, he volunteered to bring in the Christmas tree for the lobby. I rode in the truck with him, and when we arrived, he pulled all the way up to the loading dock and got out…even though the signs said “absolutely no parking.” I was vibrating with terror at disobeying the sign, so he stopped, looked me straight in the eyes and said “Melani, if you act like you know what you are doing, people will believe you. Watch.” Sure enough, no one was mad at all. (Of course not! He was delivering the Christmas tree. I know that now, but all I was left with then was that powerful message of confidence.)

He was a ‘band booster’, volunteering at every football game and marching band competition for me and my brother (a solid 8 years).

He taught me how to read confidently and coherently in front of a crowd.

He taught me how to drive stick shift, even though it took 4 years.

He trusted me.

He believed in me.

He was my biggest supporter.

So yes, he wasn’t a perfect RIE Dad, but he got the most important part right: the connection. And that’s the RIE theme in this thread. To all the fathers and father figures who are reading this: thank you. Keep doing what you’re doing. Whether you are carrying on a tradition of respectful loving care or breaking a traumatic cycle, you are making a profound impact on your children. And you do not have to do this perfectly. It’s better if you don’t. Just do it lovingly and authentically.

Thank you for letting me share.

Happy Father’s Day!