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What is it about Dads?

Dads truly do have a gift. Some say it’s the material stuff they bring home. Others point to the fun, memorable vacations that Dad worked hard to save up for and plan for the family. Still others appreciate those unforgettable jokes. Maybe there’s even a dad in your life whose jokes prove how much he keeps up with the times.

“Knock knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“It’s me.”

“It’s me who?”

“It’s me. Hi. I’m your dad. It’s me.”

Swiftie or not, whoever wrote that one knows how to party like it’s 1989. This dad also knows when it’s time for bed, though. Otherwise, those midnights will sneak up on you. 

Okay, fine. Clearly, the gift of brilliantly corny pop culture references is not the single-most special thing dads can offer their kids. So, what is it? What sets dads apart in a way that leads their children to feel loved and cared for?

Let’s look again at the punch line of that classic knock-knock joke. Perhaps it can offer us a clue. 

“It’s me. Hi. I’m your dad. It’s me.”

As far as we can tell, this dad is not bringing home anything special except his goofy self.

Perhaps what makes a dad special in the eyes of his children is less about stuff or even fun experiences, and more about just being there.

Speaking for myself, I am fortunate enough to have grown up with a father who prioritized being present. That’s not to say I didn’t appreciate the material provisions or the memorable experiences for which I have my dad to thank. I certainly appreciated those things and will always treasure them.

The best gift my dad has ever given me, though, was truly his presence. He was there for me and he consisently did his best to be fully present when we spent time together. To this day, quality time with my dad has never really been about what we happen to be doing. Whether it’s enjoying the outdoors, dining at the best fast food hot dog restaurant (James Coney Island, of course), or watching our beloved Aggie football team during another “rebuilding” season, quality time for us is simply that we are doing our best to be fully present.

As a dad with two kids of my own, a major goal of mine is to simply follow my dad’s example of being present. I also want to model the love of God, who I am convinced is my Heavenly Father whose gift of personal presence is infinite. Of course, this view of God sets the bar pretty high, which is where that whole grace thing comes into play. I know I fall short, but I also know I am not alone in my pursuit to be present and to bring my full self to these precious moments with my kids. I want to show up in whatever time and space I happen to be occupying. I want to be all-in.

I love my kids, and that’s easy to say. The hard part is showing them how much I love them, and the best way I know how to do that is to simply show up to the moment with my full self. For me, that means putting my phone away and coming back into the room when I notice my mind start to wander. I know I am not perfect at this, and that’s okay. I’m working on it, and I have plenty of motivation to keep working on it.

I hope that one day, both my daughter and my son will be able to say that I showed up for them, that we enjoyed our quality time together, and that I was present with them when they needed me. If they happen to also mention that I gifted them with a full arsenal of dad jokes, that will be icing on the cake.


Ryan Woods, LPC Associate

My goal as a counselor is to help adults, adolescents, and children by providing a space to be heard, process life’s challenges, and develop the necessary skills to thrive mentally, physically, and spiritually. My overall approach to therapy involves cognitive behavioral methods, as well as narrative therapy. I view counseling as a collaborative effort in helping clients recognize strengths, identify needs, understand conflicts, discover new options, set personal development goals, and make informed choices.


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