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Chicago Parent Staff


A dad is .....

ChicagoParent.com readers recently shared their kids’ definition of what a dad is. Here are a few responses:


"My children would define their dad as the guy who: fixes things, puts batteries in new toys, tickles them so hard they almost pee in their pants, loves to drink Starbucks coffee, takes care of the grass outside, loves Home Depot and cooks better then mommy."

ILona Vida


My 8-year-old daughter: "Someone who loves you. It is a man, usually. My dad works almost every day."

My 6-year old son: "A good Papa is someone who gets married and loves their children."

Susie Donohue


My son says: "A dad helps people and helps his family. And loves you. And plays baseball with you."

Heather Holtz


"My 5-year-old son defines ‘dad’ as his wrestling partner, protector of the house, taker out of the trash and the fixer of all things in the house. My 9½-month-old daughter just knows that ‘dad’ gives her whatever she wants."

Natalie Stover


"A dad to my 2-year-old is the maker of dinner, the one who comes to pick her up from day care, the bath time entertainer, animal imitator, the horsey she likes to ride... ."

Racio Kapustianyk


"According to my children, a dad is someone who takes out the garbage, takes them to the library and out for slurpees, does the laundry, reads them bedtime stories and does whatever Momma tells him to do."

Shayna Sheinfeld




Someone you should know
Full-time dad promotes reading

Tom Jackson, known as "Little" to his friends, carries big responsibilities. The full-time Chicago dad of Brandon, 8, and Lauren, 4, often finds himself in the role of both parents, while his wife, Jennifer, tours with a theater production of "The Color Purple."

While being a full-time parent is hectic enough, this dedicated dad wants more involvement with kids. He is a teaching artist and reading coach for Reading In Motion, a program designed to help at-risk kindergarten through third-graders learn to read at grade level using music and drama.

Jackson began using this method for his own kids when they were toddlers. "It’s not like a program to me, it’s more like a game that I play with the kids." He says he likes how enthusiastic kids are about the program.

While being a full-time dad has its challenging moments, he’s says the experience has brought his family even closer together.

Did you ever fear you wouldn’t be able to play both roles as a parent? "It was scary to me ... I didn’t know what was going to happen." Although he has the support of his wife and family and friends, Jackson says over time playing both mom and dad can be difficult but it can be done.

What have you learned from this experience? "It’s an absolute full-time job. ... It just didn’t even dawn on me how much work it was." Although the dad says while things haven’t always gone smoothly, he’s learned to go day by day. "I know that I’m going to be better at this next week or tomorrow if I just learn from this moment right here."

What advice would you give to other parents? "When you’re balancing your time, nothing comes before your relationship with your child." One of the things that is most important is making sure your relationship is strong with your children, he says. "Once the relationship is set, (the kids) don’t mind saying, ‘mom, dad, do you want me to help you … ?’ then it becomes a family thing because the relationship is there."

Nicole Walker




It happened to me
Summer . . . and the living ain’t easy

few years ago I was anticipating my first summer as a stay-at-home mom. I left full-time employment and started planning our first summer of freedom. I dreamt of weekly field trips to museums and the zoo, lazy days at the beach and pool, leisurely walks to the park and family bike rides. I was going to make up for all those summers when we barely went to the pool enough to cover the cost of the season pass.

Nine months out of work and I had morphed into the Martha Stewart of Motherhood.

In the end, our summer wasn’t as idyllic as I envisioned nor as horrific as I feared. What the kids most wanted to do was hang out at the pool all day and bike to the ice cream shop after dinner each night. We squeezed in a couple of outings, including a trip to Brookfield Zoo and to the Field Museum with a trolley ride through downtown and a half hour at the beach—all crammed in the week before school started.

All in all, we had a pretty good summer. But I realized that what I didn’t schedule was enough downtime for cloud gazing, sprinkler jumping, Popsicle licking and just plain ol’ summer fun that those of a certain vintage like me used to have before we gave birth to the overscheduled consumers of park district programs and play dates we call our children.

That summer taught me a valuable lesson. I learned memories can’t be scheduled, programmed or orchestrated. They’re cemented in our child’s psyche while sharing laughs and ice cream cones or singing silly songs on the porch on a midsummer night. Unremarkable moments creating remarkable childhoods.

Nadine Novotny Cound, Wheaton


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