Our society in general seems suspicious of the paternal instinct. Many people doubt the existence of such a thing. Fathers are perceived as natural tomcats, rootless and without loyalty, given to roam. But I discovered in my own relationship, I feel a protective instinct when I’m around kids. I’m conscientious of the ways in which my presence might nourish their developing minds and emotional and physical bodies.
Being a coach has come with its blessings, I come into contact with many kids, and for many of them I have stepped up as surrogate dad.
The kids plan gym weekends, beach training and the like, basically kids being kids without the modern technology.
What I enjoy about these spontaneous events is that the kids really enjoy having an adult around, they confide their loves, hates, dreams and aspirations. A grateful kid giving a hug after telling you their problems has become not only the norm, but also a sense of accomplishment for both. At times I do not have an answer, but the fact that I was there, and spent time listening is what counts, lifting and sharing a burden.
I know I am in a very privileged positions, as I have learnt that not many modern parents have this type of interaction with their children. I also value the fact that so many kids are actually open and honest if given the right opportunity.
Are surrogate father figures capable of loving other children as fully as they could love their own biological children? This is a subjective question that can probably never be answered to satisfaction. One fact, however, is obvious: love, in non-traditional family settings, can and does take root and grow between surrogates and children.
Kids in such a situation have already lost something that is very difficult to replace. We’d do well to respect and support surrogate dads in their efforts to fill the empty space left behind by absent or indifferent and emotionally unavailable fathers.