Leaning Into Fatherhood


The story of my life is a kind of distorted echo of my own father’s story.

He was a radio personality as well as a published, freelance writer. At a certain point, his self-imposed, perpetual feeling of mediocrity about his life’s work became a singular hallmark to all of his endeavors, personally and professionally.

Sounds familiar.

My pop’s self-resistance ultimately meant some negative lifestyle choices including, though not limited to, addictions and disengagement from his children. He leaned back. He voted in absentia as a parent and it forced my courageous mother, who would go on to become one of the “Top 25 Women in Radio” by Radio Ink, to raise two boys on her own.

Dad’s absence in my life made me question everything from a father’s true role to the definition of masculinity. Unlike my pop’s path, however, my journey only began to make real sense to me when I became a father.

My father passed away from lung cancer on September 12th, 2005; he waited for us to arrive so we could say goodbye. Sitting on his porch at the witching hour following his departure, I realized I never got the chance to ask him about being a parent or what he would’ve done differently.

Four years later, when my wife showed me the double lines on her pregnancy test, I felt a quickening inside. Something catalyzed. I knew I wanted to give my child all I had.

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To find out how my son inspired me to be the father I never had, visit LeanIn.org to read the rest of this essay. I originally shared this story with Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In team because one the best ways I can think of to support women is achieved through thoughtful and honest discussion about becoming better fathers. And now as we approach Father’s Day, I invite all you dads out there to write about how YOU leaned in to fatherhood.

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