Troy Williams: Time well-spent with my ‘Daddy’s girl’
The third Sunday in June is time to celebrate fathers and paternal bonds in America.
Fathers appreciate and deserve some love, but the National Retail Federation (NRF) Mother’s Day/Father’s Day spending survey shows more people celebrate Mother’s Day than Father’s Day. The parental retail holidays aren’t competing, but a combination of guilt and jewelry tends to leave dear old dad in the dust. One NRF figure had U.S. consumer spending for Mother’s Day at $23.6 billion and Father’s Day at $14.3 billion.
It isn’t mom’s fault that she’s getting most of the love, when you factor in 2021 U.S. Census Bureau data showing that out of about 11 million single-parent families with children under the age of 18, nearly 80% were headed by single mothers. Too many women are pulling double-duty. The National Center for Fathering shows single Black women parenting with the highest percentage of fatherless homes at 57.6%, 31.2% for Hispanic women, and 20.7% for white women.
In 2008, Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee at one of Chicago’s largest Black churches, addressed one of the most sensitive topics in the African-American community: Whether absent fathers bore responsibility for some of the difficult problems afflicting African Americans. Obama said: “We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception.” Those were some stern words that need to be revisited.
Parenting is not an easy task. I became a father at 34. However, I felt prepared for that stage in my life and anxiously awaited paternal responsibilities after about eight years of marriage.
Did I know everything there was to know about parenting? Of course not; parenting is a lot of on-the-job training. Being financially stable did allow me to avoid having a child born into poverty, which can be important for a child’s future success.
My daughter is an only child, and I appreciate her mother and all the women who have poured their life experiences into her. But she is a “die-hard” daddy’s girl, and I love it. Did I spoil her? Yes, but not with things. We just spent a lot of time together doing stuff.
She was a regular fixture on fishing trips, ball games, visits to the barber shop and hanging out downtown at the shoe shine shop. I wasn’t trying to make her a tomboy. She was just a good fit for me and the guys.
Nowadays, I’m never surprised to get a call from her in the middle of a football game to discuss a dynamic play or good conversation when Carolina gives Duke a beatdown in basketball. Being a father for me is a great experience.
It is about her, not me. I’m not sure some of her friends even knew my first name. From grade school through medical school and her oncology residency, all her friends called me Ashlyn’s dad, which was fine with me.
None of us parents are perfect, but if our children believe we love them, they will give us a lot of latitude in parenting. Today is a good day for fathers trying to do it right. Let’s celebrate them.
I don’t get to hang out much with my daughter these days. She’s an adult with her own life in another state, but we still talk and pray together every morning on the phone, and for that blessing, I’m thrilled.
Troy Williams is a member of The Fayetteville Observer Community Advisory Board. He is a legal analyst and criminal defense investigator. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.