I was taken aback during a conversation I had a few days ago.
The young lady I was conversing with informed me that "If I am not in a stable relationship with a man by age ---fill in blank--- I will have kids by in-vitro fertilization.
I felt compelled to point out "Fathers are more than DNA donors."
She confidently informed me "My dad will be their male role-model."
What are the differences between a Grandfather and a Father?
That got me to thinking, what are the differences between the role of a "Grandfather" and a "Father"? Yes, yes, yes....I know. Many, many men are playing out-of-position. Grandfathers stepping in for their second or third audition for the role. You men are HEROES in my book. You are like outfielders who, for the good of the team, step in at shortstop or catcher.
Out of fairness, I should offer what I see as the differences:
- Fathers see their children daily and can miss long-term or slower moving trends.
- Fathers are absorbed by the grinding minutia of feeding, clothing, sheltering and transporting and disciplining their brood. Often, fathers are too focused to see an accomplishment and applaud it.
- Grandfathers are "backup". Everybody needs to be able to call for backup. Even if they rarely make the call, knowing an experienced man has your back reduces stress levels.
- Men are not interchangeable. We are not adjustable wrenches where you can dial a 3/4" or a metric size.
- Grandfathers have already paid their dues. Fathering is heavy-lifting. Grandfathering is flying kites and catching fish.
- Grandfathers are better listeners. Fathers are more likely to say "It isn't in the budget" while Grandfaterhs are more likely to say...."Let me think on that a few days." Consequently, grandfathers are uniquely positioned to support their grandchildren's interests.
- A Father says "You better stay out of trouble because I cannot lose any more time at work. A Grandfather says "Punch him in the throat. Then punch him again. Don't stop punching him until somebody peels you off of him."
- If there is no "Father" in the picture, who will be the "Grandfather" for the generation that follows. It is not a sustainable model.