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Why We All Need Our Dads

Peter left yesterday morning for some meetings in New York City. He returns this afternoon. I didn't think too much of it ahead of time. My mom was around yesterday morning. We had plenty of activities–camp, swimming lessons, dinner with friends. And it was only a day and a half, for goodness sake.

But by 7:30 last night, I really really missed him. Granted, I was nursing Marilee while Penny cried about how tired she felt and William peed on the floor . . . But still. The truth is, when Peter isn't around to offer support, to give the older kids a bath, to offer a shared grimace when William stomps in place and says, "No! I don't want to go to bed!"–I realize how much I depend upon him.

Yesterday, I yelled at my children for no good reason. I also threatened, cajoled, and attempted to bribe them. I drank two glasses of wine–one while they were still awake and one once the house was quiet. I'm a better parent and a healthier person when he's home.

I also read yesterday a report from the Pew Research Center stating that there are more and more children living apart from their fathers:

In 2010, 27% of children lived apart from their fathers, up from just 11% in 1960 . . . Fathers' living arrangements are strongly correlated with race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status as measured by educational attainment. Black fathers are more than twice as likely as white fathers to live apart from their children (44% vs. 21%), while Hispanic fathers fall in the middle (35%). Among fathers who never completed high school, 40% live apart from their children. This compares with only 7% of fathers who graduated from college.

I know there are larger social and economic factors at work, and yet I also mourn what seems to be a growing nonchalance about the changing American family.

Peter called this morning before the kids went to camp. Penny talked to him for a minute, then handed the phone to William. I was about to say goodbye when she trotted over. "Wait, Mom." She stretched our her hand. "I need to tell dad that I am missing him."

Of course she is.

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