by Brock Griffin
Maybe you saw the inspiring story involving a man out on a date for Valentine’s Day. His date for the evening was his six-year-old daughter.
Most of us have seen those situations in restaurants, especially in February. Often the daughter is in a pink dress, bows in her hair, and the dad is in a suit he probably wears once or twice a year. But it always looks like a great time. The dad is asking his daughter questions, investing that time, making her feel special.
I can only assume that was the situation with this story. But here’s what makes it even better: At one point, an older couple walked by and slipped a note on the table next to the dad, then kept walking. Here’s what the note said:
…..Sorry to spy, but my husband and I saw you out with your little date and were so impressed with what a great dad you are.
…..From two adults who grew up without dads, it’s so important to have a male role model at a young age.
…..Keep up the good work, dad!
…..Dinner is on us!
Then, here’s what the dad wrote when he posted a photo of the note online:
As a single dad, I took my six year old daughter out to Valentine’s dinner tonight when this happened. I won’t lie, I teared up at the table. So, thank you random strangers. Thank you.
We need to hear about these kinds of “random affirmations of fatherhood” more often.
The only similar thing I can recall happening to me was at an oil change station many years ago. I was hanging out there with one of my kids, who was probably three or four years old at the time. I don’t remember it being a fantastic bonding time for us; most likely I was just trying to find ways to keep him occupied and somewhat content while we waited on our car. But in the middle of all that, an older gentleman walked up, handed me a couple dollars, and said, “Here, treat yourselves to some ice cream.”
He didn’t say anything about me as a father or what I was doing with my son, but the message was clear: dads spending time with their kids is a good thing, and is worth affirming. And although I didn’t get misty-eyed, I did gain a shot of motivation to make my kids a higher priority and give them more of my time, more of myself.
If you’re a committed dad, you probably have a good grasp of the power of your role. Maybe, like the couple in the story, you also grew up without a dad, so you know how important dads are to shaping kids into healthy, responsible adults. Or maybe you had a great dad and you’re trying to carry on that legacy.
At NCF we hear from a lot of dads in desperate situations who feel like giving up. And even guys we might think of as “everyday dads”—including all of us here—go through difficulties and get discouraged. Fatherhood is challenging, and we can all use some affirmation and encouragement now and then.
I hope you see yourself as an advocate for fatherhood, and encourage dads wherever you go. Look for dads who are making those simple, positive investments in their kids’ lives, and find a way to affirm them. Speak words of admiration and blessing. Pay for a meal or a round of mini golf. Do something memorable that says, loud and clear, “Keep up the good work, dad!”
You don’t have to wait until you’re older, and it doesn’t have to involve paying for an expensive meal … although that can definitely be a powerful and memorable gesture.
A little affirmation goes a long way, and there are lots of dads out there who need it.
When have you seen or experienced something similar? What are you doing to affirm other dads? Please join the discussion at our Facebook page.
- Brainstorm with your kids about “random acts of kindness” you can pull off together.
- Think of a skill, a truth, or a resource that has been useful in your fathering journey and pass it along to another dad you know.
And here are 2 great ways to affirm and help other dads:
- Attend one of our upcoming training sessions and equip yourself to inspire and equip other dads using our insights and programs. Find out more.
Brock Griffin is Writing and Publications Director at NCF and co-author of the book It’s Great Being a Dad He handles or helps with many of NCF’s writing and editing projects, including books, blogs, Today’s Father Weekly e-mails, and articles for outside publications. Brock and his wife Tara have three children and live in the Kansas City area.
NCF is a nonprofit organization seeking to improve the lives of children and establish a positive fathering and family legacy that will impact future generations by inspiring and equipping fathers and father figures to be actively engaged in the life of every child. You can also sign up for NCF’s Today’s Father Weekly email here.