Happy Father’s Day to All Rare Dads

I’ll admit that I ran wild as a kid.

I never got into trouble—you know what I mean, I was never arrested, no animals were harmed, and no injuries were reported. But still, I was out late, playing music in bars when I was 15, and I took a lot of chances that I now look back on and shudder. (Okay, some chances I took paid off, and I smile when I think of those moments.)

But I distinctly remember the loneliness of watching the sun come up after playing until dawn. Something was missing. My father.

As the first unwitting wave of “latch-key” children, I, and my similarly fatherless peers, had no real grounding. There was no father waiting up for us, no one to run interference, and I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, no one to chase the monsters out from under the bed in the middle of a nightmare infested sleep.

Life turned out fine for me, but some of my friends weren’t so lucky. I know without a doubt having a dad would have given us a sense of safety, a place to belong in the world—it wouldn’t have been such a struggle.

So, if you are a dad, I want you to know how important you are to your child or children. Moms are great, but there’s nothing like a dad to make you feel protected, to let you know you’re worthy of self-respect, love, and that even if you screw up, the world isn’t going to end and you’ll help unravel the tangle.

I was eating dinner in a not-so-fancy restaurant, recently, and I saw a young dad helping his three-year-old daughter cut her food. He kept reassuring her that he was only helping, and she could no doubt handle it herself. She finally smiled and let him finish cutting and chopping. It made me so happy to witness that seemingly nothing event.

When I met the mom as I was paying my check, I said, “Your husband is doing a wonderful job with your little girl.” She smiled and said shyly, “He’s my boyfriend. He’s not really her father, but he’s all she’s ever known.”

It made me think of the old expression, “Any man can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a DAD.”

Dads are critical in bringing up emotionally healthy children. So for all of you out there, who are handling the ups and downs of parenting and are doing a great job, I wish you the happiest of Father’s Days.

Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn is passionate about raising awareness of rare diseases and disorders and helping people connect with the resources that may ease their journey. Erica has been a caregiver, and is a patient, herself, so she completely relates to the rare disease community--on a deeply personal level.

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