The last census showed how non-traditional families were growing at an accelerated pace. Many grandparents today revel at how their sons have taken a more substantive role in child-rearing.
Here a lawyer, producer and commercial real estate broker wear their “super dad-ism” as a badge of pride and honor, well beyond duty.
Attorney Ed Rappaport said, “I wasn’t a helicopter or even a drone parent. I knew what they were doing, where they were, but I was the diametric opposite of a micromanager. I always had my phone on and would answer at any time [when they were] at college. We shared the uber app and at 2 a.m., my phone pinged knowing that a child had arrived safely home.”
Magazine publisher, producer and talent manager Miles Neiman is a hands-on “all in” father for his 12-year-old daughter. In her infant years, Neiman was a stay-at-home dad.
“I became a father in my early 40s and had a work-life balance where I could work out of my home to be very involved and super domestic. I relished the role of Mr. Mom.”
He is especially keen on focusing on what gives her joy. “I want her to know how to be happy. Her natural inclination is towards the arts.” Thus Neiman made many a trip to Michael’s art store, where they picked out projects. He has encouraged other hobbies, from horseback riding to opera and ballet. Interestingly, three of her early childhood years were spent in Rome, Italy, where she learned to read and write in Italian.
Now that she is older, Neiman has shared custody and cherishes his role as “a softy girl dad.” He shops with her online and mused, “We are partial to Zara’s clothing line; they have great things for kids!” Neiman recalls the years during which he drove carpool, packed lunches, and put her down for naps.
“I remember reading to her at night and sneaking out of the room carefully to not make the floor creak, and hearing her little voice, ‘Dad, where are you going?’”
Some other fun “Dad activities” are hosting sleepovers and making eggs and pancakes for breakfast. He concludes, “She is my ‘numero uno,’ and I’m happy that she still thinks of me as fun and goofy and knows that I will always be there for her, no matter what.”
Adam Brown, a commercial real estate broker, sees daughters Emerson, 6, and Brooke, 4, five to six times a week. He coaches t-ball, cooks, and is the “Room Mom (parent)” for Heards Ferry Elementary School kindergarten. He joked, “Lucky me, when no one else volunteered, I did.” In that role, he is the chief communicator who caters to teachers’ needs like keeping the snack bin full.
Brown was committee head for “Daddy and Me” at Temple Sinai, planning activities like sand art parties. He is on the board of First Tee of Atlanta, whose goal is to teach kids life lessons through golf. “I am buying the girls [golf] clubs, going to driving ranges, and planning a golf trip to Hilton Head. They already love putt-putt.”
In addition, Brown does “Costco runs,” shops for clothes at Old Navy, Target and PixieLane. “Sometimes I go to my sister’s kids’ closets. We are into unicorns and tie dying!” Handy in the kitchen, Brown is known for his peanut butter Nutella fluff sandwiches, pasta, and Taco Tuesdays. He reminisces about taking Emerson to Chicago for a VIP American Girl experience.
“I make them laugh and give lots of hugs and kisses. Most importantly I am teaching them to be kind and say, ‘please’ and ‘yes, ma’am,’ and to not bully.”
When it comes to being an involved dad, Brown explained, “I am not into this because I ‘have to,’ I truly ‘want to.’”
Rappaport began single parenting when his kids were in high school. “It was challenging for all of us, and while that first year was especially difficult, the kids benefited from the independence that was thrust upon them. Craig has been a proficient launderer since 14, and Brooke handled her college applications with minimal input,” he recalled.
Rappaport’s primary objective was to provide stability. “I tailored my law practice to work from home to be readily available. If I had to identify one disappointment, it’s that they didn’t have a childhood that was idyllic as I did, but that’s probably true of most children of divorced parents who grew up in a traditional nuclear family. At times I overcompensated out of a desire to make up for that.
“I feel a great deal of pride and gratitude that they had a seamless transition to college and haven’t looked back since. They both took full advantage of their respective opportunities at the University of Texas and FSU [Florida State University] and thrived academically and socially. Both are prospering in their tech careers. I heard a saying that rings especially true: ‘Parenting is the one job that if you succeed at it, you’ve worked your way out of it.’”
Brooke contributed, “My dad is cool because he doesn’t take life too seriously, has been through so much and is still the happiest and most positive person. He sings his way through life. Although his singing is embarrassing, it makes everyone around him smile.”