There’s an old saying that anyone can be a father, but it takes a special man to be someone’s “Daddy.” What does it mean to become “Daddy”? What does it feel like? How do you know you’re doing it right? Take a look at these heartwarming and touching stories about these dads who all seem to have earned the special title of “Daddy.”
“There’s an old proverb about children—when children are born, children come out with their fists closed because that’s where they keep all their gifts. And as you grow, your hands learn to unfold because you’re learning to release your gifts to the world. So for the rest of your life, I want to see you live with your hands unfolded.” – Albert Sykes
We think that fourth grader Aiden Sykes has a future career as a journalist. This sweet boy interviewed his father, Albert Sykes, who is 31 years old. Albert runs a nonprofit that focuses on mentoring kids who are struggling to keep up in school. Aiden asked his father questions like what went through his head when he was born, and his dad’s dreams for him. The interview also touched on the timely and heartbreaking statistics of young black men and jail time.
Albert poignantly and artistically described what went through his head when Aiden was born, and it’s probably what a lot of fathers feel the first time they lay their eyes on their children: “It was like looking at a blank canvas and just imagining what you want the painting to look like at the end, but you can't control the paint strokes.”
“I gotta bring up a black boy in Mississippi...and statistically, black boys born after 2002 have a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison. And all three of my sons were born after the year 2002,” Sykes said. He also explains to his son why he’s so proud of him and why he brings his son with him to so many protests.
“I want you to see what it looks like when people come together and also that you understand it’s not just about people that are familiar to you, but it’s about everybody. Did you know that Martin Luther King’s work was for everybody and not just for black people?” he asked.
Listen to the full interview here.
“In many patriarchal societies and tribal societies, fathers are usually known by their sons, but I'm one of the few fathers who is known by his daughter, and I am proud of it.” – Ziauddin Yousafzai
Activism seems to run in this family—Young Pakistani activist for female education, Malala, who was shot by the Taliban simply because she is a female and tried to go to school in 2012, has an activist father. In this moving TED Talk, Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, reminds us all that women deserve to be treated equally and have the same opportunities for education and autonomy as men. Women have an independent identity of their own not linked to their fathers or their husbands.
He speaks on how women in patriarchal societies are supposed to be obedient and quiet. And also how baby girls are not celebrated when they are born. The mother feels shame for not having a baby boy, and how this needs to change. Ziauddin was not a typical father in a patriarchal society when Malala was born:
“Dear brothers and sisters, when Malala was born, and for the first time, believe me, I don't like newborn children, to be honest, but when I went and I looked into her eyes, believe me, I got extremely honored. And long before she was born, I thought about her name, and I was fascinated with a heroic legendary freedom fighter in Afghanistan. Her name was Malalai of Maiwand, and I named my daughter after her.”
Ziauddin also talks about how not only does a patriarchal society hurt women, but men in the families, as well. And how women’s lives are over once they reach the age of 13, but he went against societal norms and enrolled Malala in his school. He “did not clip her wings.”
Watch the TED Talk here.
“Now, I'm gonna tell you something today, and you might not know what to think of it now, but you're gonna remember when you're an adult. Don't sneak. Because if you sneak, like you did today, it means you think you're doing the wrong thing. And if you run around spending your whole life thinking that you're doing the wrong thing, then you'll ruin your immortal soul.” – Patrick Haggerty’s Dad
“And out of all the things a father in 1959 could have told his gay son, my father tells me to be proud of myself and not sneak.” – Patrick Haggerty
Patrick Haggerty tells his daughter about a talk he and his dad had about him being gay in the 1950s. His dad talked to Patrick after he hid from his father because he was wearing a lot of glitter for a school assembly. Patrick speaks highly of his father, and says his dad was “the patron saint of dads for sissies” and how incredible it was that a dairy farmer father in the 1950s could be accepting of his gay son.
Hear Patrick’s touching recollection here.
“I’ll tell you this...I go back and forth between that half a minute or half a second when I felt that love. And I sometimes feel like I cheated the universe, because I don’t deserve to know what that kind of love feels like. Somehow it was inauthentic because that kind of love is only reserved for real parents. And sometimes I thank the universe, because now I know that I do want to be a dad.” – Bradford Jordan
At The Moth storyslam, Bradford tells his story of the unconventional way he “almost” became a father. He always went back and forth over whether or not he felt he would be a good father or if he would ever truly be “ready” to be a dad. Then he gets a surprise email that tells him he is the father of a five-year-old boy and to “Reply to this email if you’re interested.”
He goes through a whirlwind of emotions about becoming a father and once he thinks he finally accepts it, the rug is pulled out from under him in a crazy way.
Hear Bradford Jordan’s story about short-lived fatherhood here.
Share your cherished Daddy stories with us! We’d love to hear them.