Despite what our culture sometimes implies, dads don't wait until Father's Day to parent.
They do it all year-round — the good ones, anyway, of whom there are gazillions. Which is why Jim Higley didn't wait for a holiday to write his daughter a letter.
Higley penned a note to his 22-year-old daughter, which he later turned into a freelance piece for online magazine Thought Catalog, back in May. But it's a letter worth visiting as Father's Day approaches because his words are so on point.
Titled "3 Things You Should Know Before Picking the Father of Your Future Child," Higley's note is a plea to his daughter — and all daughters — to find a partner who will defy the nonsense stereotypes about dads (unfeeling, unhelpful, incapable) that abound in commercials and sitcoms and greeting cards and blogs and Facebook posts and, well, you get the idea.
"I know my way around the kitchen," he wrote. "I'm comfortable with domestic issues. And when it comes to being a nurturer, we all know I win the blue ribbon in our family for expressing my emotions. But I'm not unusual.
"That's what I want you to know," he continued. "There's a world of guys out there that are capable of being adept at every single aspect of parenting."
Higley, who lives in Wilmette and also has two sons, 18 and 24, blogs at bobbleheaddad.com and is the author of "Bobblehead Dad: 25 Life Lessons I Forgot I Knew" (Greenleaf Book Group), about raising three kids as a single dad, even as he battled (and beat) cancer. He pops up occasionally on ABC's "Good Morning America" and NBC's "Today." He taped a segment on ABC's "The View" earlier this week.
He gets around and he meets a lot of parents, and he thinks pop culture has a way to go before it catches up with reality.
"The male species is a spectrum, of course," he told me. "My advice to the daughters out there is don't believe the stereotypes you see in situation comedies or even the stereotypes that exist in your own family — the way your grandfather did it, the way your uncle does it. The men I see and the men I have the privilege of hanging out with are fabulous parents who just happen to be men.
"It's such a simple message," he said. "But it's one that I don't think gets through enough."
Which is why he addressed it directly with his daughter.
"If you aspire to enjoy a future with a man who views your relationship as a partnership — one where you divide and conquer — then go find that guy with the attributes to make that a reality," he wrote.
And later … "Take your time finding the right guy. And have a healthy, real-life attitude about dads. Expect great things from them because they can deliver."