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Four of my favorite people in the world call me Junie (their special name for their grandfather).  Granny and I have been married for almost fifty years. We’re grandparents to four delightful grandchildren.  I’d like to offer my input from a grandfather’s perspective as to why Father’s Day is such a BIG deal.
Father’s Day is a celebration of the love awarded to men who act like fathers, whether they are fathers of birth, father of adoption, foster dads, step-dads, or men who step in to fill that role in a child’s life. I think it all comes down to one word that - if dutifully performed - results in tons of benefits to many people both young and old.
When a couple gets married they pledge to each other to be responsible to each other…”to love and to cherish till death do us part and in sickness and in health….”.  In other words always take care of each other and be responsible.  Notice that’s a small “r” in the word “responsible”.
When a couple starts a family the day the first born joins the family the Responsibility gets a capital “R”.  Why?  Because now the man is a father and parent of a helpless infant who he must protect, feed, clothe, teach to walk, teach to talk, teach to behave, teach to be responsible for the next 20+years.  So Father and Responsible go together and are inseparable.
But now he’s a teacher, too.  So he must do what teachers do…talk to the children and instruct them on a multitude of topics, DEMONSTRATE the teaching, and follow them to watch and help them to let you know they learned.
To demonstrate, the father must be responsible in his own actions…all of them so that the child will know right from wrong and learn from the father’s way of living the true meaning of responsibility.  They learn by watching, too.
So I get a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye when I see the powerful learning our children have taken from their parents and those other teachers in their lives as they go about teaching their children and my grandchildren.  Do I take the credit? NO!  I did my part but many others assisted, with the greatest TEACHER being their Mother.
So…we’ve lived most of our lives.  We’re leaving two children to take our place as responsible citizens and now the torch passes to them to leave in their children their replacements, too.  There is no more satisfaction that I need to make me happy with the life I lived with Granny…but the job is never done.  Too many children don’t get the benefit of a two parent family life.  We must act responsibly as grandparents and do what we can to help.  And we need policies in place that recognize the important and growing role grandparents are playing today.
It was my great pleasure to be able to help my daughter and son-in-law when my first grandchild arrived unexpectedly two and a half months early eight years ago.  I was at work when I got the call that my daughter had gone to the hospital with blood pressure in stroke range and the baby could arrive any moment.  Because I work as an independent contractor, I was able to jump in the car with Granny and drive the four hours to be by my daughter’s side.  When my grandson did arrive at 2 lbs, he was very sick and in the NICU for two months.  My daughter understandably didn’t want to leave him, but she was exhausted and also needed to recover.  Fortunately, Granny is retired and was able to stay for three months to help.  I drove back and forth every weekend so that I could be by his isolette as much as I could.  Those were some of the scariest weeks of all our lives, but I wouldn’t have missed them for the world. I jokingly called my grandson my little termite because that tiny fellow ate his way into my heart and stayed there.  To this day, he still smiles when he hears the song I made up and sang to him while rocking in the NICU all those years ago. I was so glad that I was able to be there for him and for my daughter when they needed me.  As more adults work into their later years and play increased roles in their families’ lives, grandparents need family leave policies that allow them to be there for those we love.
MomsRising.org is a progressive organization that is, with great enthusiasm, helping to fill the need and ensure the policies families need to thrive are in place. Schools help, girls & boys organizations help, but they all can use the services of kind, loving, generous grandparents.  I’m sure proud to be one and to help fathers and mothers to become responsible grandparents. Thanks to MomsRising.org, we have help with the RESPONSIBILTY we have.
This post is part of the Fathers on Family Leave Blog Carnival.

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