Celebrate the bros in your network

These ‘surrogate dads’ fill roles with their time and talent

Photo: bigstockphoto.com © Yastremska

No Dad has the same role: each one has emerged from a different set of life circumstances into a familial context that is unique and particular to the dad who’s helped shape it. Comparing yourself to the dad next door who’s built the play structure for his kid, or to the work colleague who’s a science whiz, and can help his daughter with her math project, is a no-go. Be who you are – the best thing for your children – and let the bros in your network engage with them where it works for all of you.

Favourite Uncle: Every family usually has this kind of bro. You know, the one who can wrestle with your son and hang him upside down by his ankles much to the delight of both. Somehow this is always a lot more fun with favourite uncle than with dad. And if there’s an accidental milk spill at dinner, no worries, uncle’s table can take it. The fun place to visit, for sure!

Wise Grandpa: If grandpa lives in town, here’s another bro to celebrate! With some time to spare, grandpa can make time with the kids when copious errands, home maintenance or an unexpected business trip necessitate an extra pair of hands. Good for playing catch or being a tea party guest, grandpas play the father role really well – for some strange reason they’ve learned how to.

Neighbourhood Babysitter: Usually you don’t think of the babysitter down the street as a bro to celebrate. If he’s been available numerous times when you and your partner need a night out or played ball hockey when you’re on your last legs, that’s plenty to give him a nod of thanks.

Oldest Son: Seeing your oldest son in a father role may be the last thing you would ever think of. With a baby brother or a little sister in the family, has there ever been a time when you’ve said something like, “Could you watch your sister while I run upstairs? Converter needs a new battery.” The oldest is definitely a bro to celebrate.

Football Buddies: These bros may never have babysat your kids or had them over for dinner but they’ve been there for you: to listen to, to hang out with, and to offer advice (warranted or not), to commiserate with, and to tease you mercilessly. They’re like “fathers without borders” – totally irreverent but absolutely necessary for your sanity. Worth celebrating, I would say.