Show Your Love by Getting Involved

A message to dads young and old that aren't being the active, invested fathers they should be.
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It's time to "man up!" This is a message to dads young and old that aren't being the active, invested fathers they should be. I'm no super dad, but after years of hearing moms complain about husbands who don't change diapers, won't help with schoolwork or simply won't play with their kids, I felt I had to say something.

My wife's theory is that many guys struggle with this concept when they first become a father. I think she's right. It often starts with a dad who refuses to change his child's diaper. This may be the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Diapers are smelly and nasty, but it's only part of the job description for about three years. Dads also should be able to soothe, bathe and burp a little one. None of these are difficult tasks that can't be learned, and the parenting scale shouldn't tip all the way to one parent with the other being available when the task is simple. Both parents are happier when there's a level of fairness and time to have some balance.

As children get older, there are plenty of opportunities for dads to be involved at school, yet how many guys do you know who simply can't help because of work? I'm not talking about the dads who truly can't like men in the Armed Forces, or the guy whose boss refuses to let him work less than 60 hours a week. I mean the guy who always finds a way to not be there — the dad who'd rather work than help with a field trip or a class party. If you're that guy, it's time to get in the game. If your schedule is an issue, there is nothing wrong with taking a vacation day to help out at your kid's school or to attend an event.

The key is not being afraid to get out of your comfort zone. Back in December, I signed up to help with my youngest son Chase's preschool party. His teacher asked me if I could organize the event and come up with some activities for the kids. I was cool with everything except coming up with a craft they could do. I was the kid who barely passed art class in school. My ceramic mugs more resembled ashtrays. Instead of running to my wife, I did some research and found a gingerbread ornament kit that each child could decorate to take home. In the end, it all worked out. Chase's teacher even said if the whole TV news thing doesn't work out I'd make a great preschool teacher.

Show your family how much you love them by doing
whatever you need to do to get more involved. If you don't know what to do, ask your wife. They're really good at telling you where you could help more. Being a good dad is a juggling act, but if you really try, you can't fail. Special props to the single dads of the world, who like single moms do it all, often without the recognition they deserve.

Man up and be a great dad. It's the greatest Valentine's Day gift you can give your your wife, your kids and yourself.

Derek James is a host of WCCB News Rising, and lives with his wife and two sons, ages 3 and 6. Read more from Derek in his Daddy Derek blog at