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Thursday, July 25, 2024

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Stepping up to Fatherhood – 6.16.2006

By Rick Racela

A colleague of mine just became a father at age 35-ish.
I accomplished the feat at age 33, so I felt qualified to give him some advice.
Expertise in this field comes only with experience. There are no daddy schools, no MBAs in fatherology, no boards that certify a man-of-the-house—are there?
So I’m relatively confident that I can give my opinion—and then some—since I’ve used my lifetime very efficiently and am now a great grandfather (I took the accelerated path, but more on that later).
I advised my colleague to purloin as much sleep as he could in whatever venue he found himself whenever the chance arose.
“Enjoy the first several years,” I cautioned. “I think they peak at about age four. That’s when they like Barney, Santa, parents, and popsicles—in that order.”
Not much I wanted to tell him about “Twix Twelve and Twenty,” though. I remember what I was like throughout that stage, and it wasn’t adorable.
But there’s no sense in him concerning himself with those years—yet.
There will be plenty of time before that to hone his fathering skills. To learn his fathering skills.
Think about that. He’ll be learning to be a father as he’s teaching his daughter how to be a decent human being.
To me, that is what makes parenting such a specialized field. Who is actually teaching whom?
Fatherhood is a school. Try to achieve perfect attendance, even though it may seem impossible at times. Ultimately, the principal will understand and no doubt you’ll get a passing grade.
You really don’t graduate and get a diploma until you reach grandfatherhood. That’s when you get your MBA, which is why the kid goes to Grandpop after Dad gives unacceptable counsel.
She wants to hear it from the real expert—the one who has been Board-certified. The one who is the faculty professor of fatherology.
Dad should not feel slighted when the kid goes over his head (rather, he should take advantage of the respite and get some sleep!). It’s just the natural academic order of things.
And take heart; sometimes even the professor gets overruled. That’s when the kid takes her case to the department head: Great Granddad!
I got my PhD in fatherology two years ago—my great grandson turns two in July.
Some people say I cheated, but, academically speaking, I took the accelerated path. I married into a ready-made family (some say I was just too lazy to take the traditional route).
I became a father to my daughters at age 33. I never considered myself, nor was I ever referred to as, a stepfather.
I enrolled in the daddy school and immediately had four very experienced teachers, who saw me through the elementary, secondary and even higher ed years of fatherology. Good teachers don’t care where you’re from; they just want attentive students.
I learned the job just as I expect my colleague is starting to learn.
The best I can tell him is not to worry about it. Teach and learn at the same time. You’ll eventually graduate, but you’ll never stop learning.
And for Heaven’s sake, enjoy yourself. If you approach fatherology in the right frame of mind, it can be a hoot.

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