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Here’s to dads of all kinds

by By Caleb Jones [email protected] | June 1, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

Father's Day may be June 18 this year, but every day is special to those who hold the title of Dad. Nothing makes a more profound change in a man than becoming a father. Some would say fatherhood is a journey that leads boys to become men.

Today's dads are a lot different from the man who raised me. My dad, Kenny, came from an era when men brought home the bacon -- but didn't necessarily know how to cook it. When Mom passed away, my dad had to take on that role too. He was probably better prepared for teaching me how to tie a tie, sharpen a pocketknife and adjust a baler so it tied both strings tight. But he never shied away from anything we needed.

My good friend told me once that being a dad is easy, but being a great dad is the hardest thing you will ever do. My dad worried about me breaking an arm by jumping out of the hayloft. Nowadays, I worry more about the danger that is just a mouse click away.

I think the biggest thing you can do, and one of the hardest, is just being there for your kids. In a dad's world of work, cellphones, emails and technology, it's easy to show up but not actually "be there."

I was reminded how important being there is when I saw some photos posted on Facebook by Lori Rehkop of her husband, Black River Electric lineman Jeremy Rehkop, and daughter, Leah. When your dad is a lineman like Leah's dad is, you get to ride to prom in what is probably the coolest prom ride ever -- in this case, a bucket truck.

Lori's post included a video that shows Leah's burly bearded dad opening the truck door for her, helping her down, and handing her the all-important cellphone.

I know a lot of dads who are father-of-the-year material through the Mornings with Dad program at my kids' school. These monthly mornings include stepdads, grandpas, uncles, and all other forms dads take these days. Over a fine culinary breakfast of donuts and the occasional fruit, we get to spend some time with our kids talking about life. We have even had a few guest speakers stop by to help, like Mizzou coaches Dennis Gates and Eli Drinkwitz -- both fathers too.

The most recent census showed one in four homes are missing a father. These kids -- and their moms -- face many unfortunate consequences from this absence. On the flip side, kids with a dad like I had are less likely to be injured or obese, more likely to do better in school and, most importantly, they tend to become great parents themselves.

I will never forget the day I first became a father. It made me want to change the world so my kids have a better place to live.

Here's to fathers of every type who hide their tears and fears and man up when it counts.

Caleb is the executive vice president and CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and a member of Boone Electric Cooperative.

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