Humor, however, is essential if you’re going to raise a family and keep your sanity intact. Steve’s been married to “Mrs. Happy” (a.k.a. Kathy) for more than 20 years, and they have three children -- Peter, Mary and Sally. Judging from the antics we read in Tales from the Dad Side, their childhood was anything but boring.
What comes through loud and clear, behind all the stories, is the welcome image of a father getting involved in his kids’ lives. Taking time to observe what his kids were learning, Steve jumped in with both feet to teach them, even when he didn’t know what he was doing. He made the effort, especially when they were small, to show them that their interests mattered to him. He helped them finish school projects and get their first jobs.
As I’ve noted before, a growing body of social-science research shows that such father-child involvement is vital. As Patrick Fagan noted in a study for The Heritage Foundation:
“Teen-agers without a dad around are almost twice as likely to be depressed as teen-agers from an intact married family. They are more than four times as likely to be expelled from school and three times as likely to repeat a grade. Drug and alcohol abuse is much more common. On top of that, they are also more likely to have sex before they are married -- setting the stage for yet another fatherless generation.”
In the Dad Side, you see a man who decided, when his kids were small, to dive into the hard work and fun of fatherhood, unafraid to look silly -- and all for the sake of being there for them. Being a father means “on-the-job training,” Steve says, and it starts from day one: “Those stories about how life changes are absolutely true. On the birthday of my first child, when I walked out of that hospital, the sky seemed bluer, food tasted better, and the songs on the radio were happy and apparently written just for me? I had a reason to be on earth; I was somebody’s dad.”
In his witty and creative way, Steve shows parents how they can make a difference, even when they feel inadequate. You see that parents don’t have to be experts -- just present and willing to raise their kids through thick and thin.
And if you can laugh while you’re learning that, so much the better. Looks as if we can all benefit in some way by going over to the Dad Side.