Why Every Family Needs a Kidless Dad- an Ode to Our Family's Kidless Dad, @john
A kidless dad has a gift, not a syndrome- they haven't outgrown youth culture like actual parents, who age in dog years, so they act as parents disguised as peers. Our family's kidless dad may not be Maisie and Charlie's progenitor but his guidance has made him a part of their DNA. I highly recommend every family have a kidless dad of their own.
- •Kidless dads give great thought to what kind of a parent they want to be one day and they have the energy to institute their plan.Kidless Dads are not fun uncles armed with fart jokes and wrestling matches who's visits are lighthearted but fleeting. They come bearing long range plans to nurture and guide, they've looked inward and outward in their preparations for parenthood. I also had an intricate strategy for giving my children the best start possible, but between car pools and grocery lists and SATs and practices, I've completely forgotten what it was. The brains of Kidless dads, on the other hand, are still intact.
- •Kidless dads save marriagesAll marriages have crisis. Ours fell in the middle of a family trip and it felt terminal. Until our kidless dad stepped in. He sent us to a therapist, loaded the kids in his car, and said to meet them in Palm Springs when we figured it out. While we talked and cried in the space he created, they drove past the Fantasy Factory, stopped at Walmart, bought Jenga and junk food. The kids fell asleep as John drove through the desert. Late that night, we all reunited, a safe, happy and whole family.
- •Kidless dads parent kids who don't want to talk to their parentsIn other words, they provide security for parents. Sometimes I get scared in the sudden darkness and silence of parenting teenagers, especially if I sense something's amiss. Although I understand their need for autonomy I also know they still need help navigating the perils of growing up. A few days ago one of the kids looked to John for direction and when he let me know that everything would be alright, that they were on track, I didn't ask for details. I simply enjoyed the relief.
- •Kidless dads take photos long after the other parents burned out on documenting everythingMaisie's first prom, Charlie's spring break, birthdays upon birthdays upon birthdays ... Chad and I get hung up on the To Do lists that accompany milestones, and we often forget to document the time as it flies by. But no matter how chaotic the environment, from the high school gymnasium to the Thanksgiving table, John pauses, shoots, and clicks.
- •Kidless dads' vision isn't blurred by nostalgia for the past or fear about the future. It is rooted firmly in an appreciation of the present. Kidless dads see the kids clearly for who they are now, not the little ones they once were or the adults they might become.Last night Charlie chatted with us in the kitchen after dinner, holding himself like a young man, not a child. It made me long for all the days gone by and worry about perils he might face as he becomes a man. Chad also noticed Charlie's maturity. He was overcome by sadness that he'd missed Charlie's early years and that his time with Charlie was running out. John said goodnight as Charlie went upstairs and said "I love that kid so much. He's in such a great place." Here. Now.
- •Kidless dads provide an extra layer of protection to the familial safety net, so kids can take great leaps and soarMaisie is a traveler at heart- in the last year she's lived with an indigenous family in Ecuador, backpacked through Peru, traveled to Cuba. Every time she leaves for a trip her kidless dad reminds her of one simple thing- no matter where she is, she's got a lifeline.
- •Kidless dads say goofy dad things without worrying about seeming like goofy dadsEarlier this summer Maisie met the First Lady during a conference on girls' education. I sent a photo of their meeting to John and his response was essentially "I bet the First Lady was really excited about meeting Maisie."
- •Kidless Dads make a family complete.When I fell in love with my husband a few years ago, the only obstacle I saw in the way of us raising a family together was the fact that Chad's life, through work, friendship, and cohabitation, was inextricably linked with John's. I would have never guessed that the very person I feared might hinder togetherness has in fact brought us all closer and made each one of us whole.