My daughter came from England to visit a little while back. It was the first time I'd seen her for nearly four years, and this had felt far, far too long. I had missed the closeness of her. Phone calls and e-mails are fine, but never the same as being there. Lin is 34 and still my little girl in my mind (although I hope I don’t treat her like that). My older daughter, Josie lives in New Zealand and will be visiting us this July. What at treat, to see my two girls in the same year!

I recall with amazing clarity the intensity of my feelings on the birth of each daughter. The emotions I experienced when Josie was born were indescribable and nothing I have ever felt before or since. The closest I can get is to say that an enormous wave of love, pride, and a sense of responsibility flooded through me. Once I had spent the first hours with my wife and new daughter, and left the hospital, I had to be alone for a while. I drove to the ocean, thirty miles from London, where we lived, and walked along the lonely beach on a Spring morning. The tide was in, and the sea lapped gently against the shore. I was a father! The love I felt washed over me and touched me forever. I have felt that love, and the pride in my daughters for always. I guess I forgot about the responsibility part until Lin's visit a few weeks ago.

It was the small things that I noticed, or that others noticed and remarked on. She is so like me, not just in the way she looks, but in her manner and the things she does. She uses the same words and phrases, likes the same kind of things, does similar work to me, is patient and impatient with the things that I am patient and impatient with. I recalled some of the things that I taught her when she was only five or six years old; things about independence, integrity, empathy and resourcefulness. These were not consciously taught, but I can see them looking back. And here she was, displaying those characteristics in a natural and powerful way.

I discovered what I had offered, as a father, only when I became involved in running the first Canadian conference on Fatherhood last year. The greatest lesson for me, and for the almost all the participants at last years event, was that dads have an enormously valuable and largely unrecognized role to play in the bringing up of their children.

The statistics speak for themselves, and yet are ignored. The vast majority of teens and young men who get into trouble with the law, and of girls who become pregnant before the age of 16, come from fatherless homes.

When my first wife and I separated, our daughters were 10 and 7 years old. Fortunately, although their mother and I could no longer share our lives together, this was never a barrier to my having access to them. Unfortunately, I made the assumption, based on society's apparent view, that I was to be the second-class parent, and therefore made no attempt to live with my daughters at least 50% of the time. I would not make the same mistake now. Both girls went through very difficult adolescent times, one indeed becoming pregnant at sixteen (with my now 17 year old delightful grandson).

It seems that little has changed, unless it has got worse, in the attitude that dads are of less value than moms. The change that occurred for over one hundred fathers last summer was in the recognition of the enormously important role that they play in their children’s lives, whether or not they are living under the same roof.

When we understand what it is that children need, and get from their fathers, we can bring a sense of greater wholeness and stability to all our relationships. A recommended resource is the Fatherhood Conference coming in June. Also, William Jarema’s book, Fathering - the Next Generation is a wonderful insight into what great fathering is and the roles that fathers play.

I believe that it is important for us to celebrate dads by devoting time the stories, the hopes, and the concerns that men, and women, have about the role of fatherhood today.

Author's Bio: 

Warren Redman is a psychotherapist, facilitator, author, husband, dad & grand-dad. He runs the Emotional Fitness Institute in Calgary,Alberta, Canada. He is Past President of the Men's Conference Association of Calgary and Past President of Canadian Association of Professional Coaches, the local chapter of the International Coaching Federation in Calgary. Contact Warren Redman at 1-866-310-3348 (EFit)