Radical: (adj) a : marked by a considerable departure from the usual or traditional; b : tending or disposed to make extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions (as defined by Merriam-Webster)
The majority of people in the world hear the word “radical” and immediately conjur up images of extremism and violence. They picture the anti-war protestors of the 60’s and the modern day religious “radicals” who take their views of religion to the extremes. The term radical however, does not necessarily mean violent or aggressive in a physical or mentally intense state. Typically I would tread lightly when using the word, but when it comes to being a dad, more specifically, being an involved dad, I will use it to the fullest extent of the above definition, and I will be proud of it.
What does it mean to “get radical” about being a dad? Well, let us first look at the history of the image of dad in world and popular culture. We have all heard of the “Peter Griffin” reference when it comes to the mainstay image of what a dad is. There is a sense that most dads in the world (which is probably still true) are only involved to a certain point, and mostly out of some kind of obligation, rather than a desire to be there. Dads are viewed as 9-5 laborers, home by 6, eating dinner, and then off to the recliner from 7 to bedtime. They are disciplinarians when mommy asks for help, and will watch the children only when it is absolutely neccessary. Please note, and it is important to do so, that I am not here to judge anybody on the face of this Earth. I will leave that to my Higher Power, and Him only. A person’s choice is a person’s choice, and it is how any of us have gotten to where and who we are now. As for me and my dadhood, I will choose to not be the typical dad. I will think outside of the picture frame, and take a different path. I will be radical!
The time has come for dads all over to be radical. To be “tending to make extreme changes in existing views”, and living a life of a “radical” dad. I have determined for myself that I will be as involved in the lives of my children, and in the parental decisions in the household as I could possibly be. There is no reason I can’t take my kids to the doctor and take them to run errands (although my wife does the majority of grocery shopping while I keep the kiddos at home). There is no problem with changing diapers, even for the little girl, and knowing how to clean up puke in a record breaking 4.7 seconds.
There has been a gradual shift in the world of parenting over the last year. Dads are becoming primary caregivers, they are raising children single (and doing great jobs), and they are choosing to become more involved with their children. The key to it all, is choosing. Becoming radical about your life as a dad takes making a choice. It takes making a lifelong committment to be there for your children, however they need you to be, from this day forward, until you take your last breath. I stand (or write) before you as a dad who has made the choice to be radical. I have made the committment to myself, to my family, to my Higher Power, that I will be a dad, not just a gene donor. I will be there as a shoulder to lean on, to cry on, and to wipe little runny noses on. I will stand firm with wipes in one hand, and disinfectant in the other. Poop and puke will not scare me. My kisses will be wet, slobbery, and full of love. Dads, I invite you, and challenge you, to become radical with me. Change the future, break the mold, and grab parenting by the horns. It can be done, and we can be the best dads our children would ever want!