Welcome to Portraits of Fatherhood: We’re telling the story of today’s dads.
There is no better place to witness the changing roles of men and women in the larger culture than through the lens of parenthood. But rather than speculate on what and how contemporary fathers do what they do, we’d like to bring you portraits of the dads themselves. In their own words. Would you like to be interviewed for this feature? See the end of the post for details.
NAME Dan Blackson
HOMETOWN / WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW? Puyallup, WA / Tacoma, WA
NUMBER OF CHILDREN Three. Two Boys (17, 11), Girl (13). I also have two step-daughters (21 and 20).
WORK Work from home, full-time. Part-time musician as a serious hobby.
RELATIONSHIP STATUS Remarried
HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY? How have you, or you and your partner (if you’re partnered), arranged your life/schedule to provide the daily care for your kid(s)?
I have primary custody of my 13-year old daughter and my 11-year old son. I have the luxury of working from home with somewhat flexible hours so I can be involved with school activities and not have to miss work. My wife works part-time but the days she works are long due to a lengthy commute and she is worn out by the time she gets home. As a step-parent to my kids, my wife is allowed to “check out” if she needs time to herself. Let’s be honest, she needs to do that every once in a while to maintain her sanity. We have made it a priority to all eat dinner together as often as possible. Surprisingly, we are able to make that happen more often than not. We have family meetings once a week on Sunday nights. Any member of the family can also call for a family meeting at any other time provided that it’s for a legitimate reason and not just to debate over which kid the cats love the most. Seriously, that is a hot-button topic. We began attending blended family counseling a few months ago and it has really helped in dealing with any issues that come up.
My step daughters are both in college and pretty self-sufficient. As far as my 17-year old son, you’ll have to read about my worst parenting moment.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?
My 17-year old son was from a previous relationship prior to meeting my ex-wife. My worst parenting moment was giving up my parental rights when he was nine years old. Giving up my rights was an extremely difficult decision to say the least and the hardest I’ve made in my life thus far. I have not seen him in over eight years although he lives in my hometown. There is a lengthy backstory leading up to that decision but I can say without question that at the core of it was the fact that I had grown up without my father and, as a result, I did not place much value in being one myself. Who needs a dad? I turned out fine, right? WRONG! My previous marriage ended a couple years later, in 2009, and I decided to finally address my own issues from my childhood. For the longest time I doubted my ability to even be a good dad but I had wasted enough time beating myself up. At age 35, it was time to figure things out.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?
Fatherhood has been a constant work in progress. For me, my best parenting moment was fighting for and eventually being granted primary custody of my two youngest kids. My ex-wife and I had maintained a 50/50 schedule prior to her moving over 200 miles away in the summer of 2014. I decided that if I was going to oppose the relocation that I would go all-in with the process as I knew it would be difficult. I had always just gone with the flow and let things happen. I had to establish boundaries for myself and learn to be comfortable maintaining them. It was much harder than I expected after spending a majority of my life avoiding conflict. Basically, I decided that I was no longer going to be passive when it came to raising my kids and providing what I felt they needed in their lives. I was going to fill in the gaps for whatever I thought was missing from my childhood. As a result, I feel like my relationship with them now is stronger than it’s ever been and it continues to grow. I remain hopeful for the chance to be able to repair and rebuild the relationship with my oldest son someday. I love being a dad and the more I think about it, maybe my best parenting moment has yet to come.