To many, the term bonus dad means step-father. This is not always the case for military kids. For military kids, bonus dads come in many forms. Over the years, men have gotten a bad reputation as talk of “toxic masculinity” fills the headlines. While this negativity does exist, it’s a stereotype that does not need to be encouraged. In fact, more often than not, masculinity reflects tenderness and selflessness. Our milkids often go through significant and life-altering changes during the career of their service member father. Thankfully, family is not limited to blood relatives.
The impact of a male presence on a child is often a concern. While statistics that show children from fatherless homes have higher rates of depression, behavior disorders, and suicide, we know that children can be successful without having a father around on a daily basis. Our military kids are proof of this! It is clear, however, that the presence of a positive male role model significantly affects the outcome of our children.
And sometimes that positive male role model comes from someone outside the immediate family. As we look forward to Father’s Day, we want to take a moment to acknowledge those men – the Bonus Dads – who take the time to show up for our kids, especially when they don’t have to.
To the uncles that show up for the first ever Varsity soccer game; we thank you.
To the random service member on the Space-A flight that holds our baby because they’re missing their Dad; we thank you.
To the men in leadership roles who carry strollers up the stairs and tolerate our toddlers chewing on your patches during ceremonies; we thank you.
To the grandfathers who drive across the county just to take their grandkids on fishing trips; we thank you.
To the neighbors who invite our sons along for guy time because he’s the only boy when Dad isn’t around; we thank you.
To the friends from the last duty station who ask us over on Christmas Eve to make gingerbread houses, or let us tag along to look at the amazing Christmas lights; we thank you.
To the coaches who take on a team full of kids and mentor them through a season; we thank you.
To the neighbors who eagerly volunteer to help hang pictures, perform household repairs, change a flat tire, or cut the grass; we thank you.
To the friends who willingly attend the Father-Daughter dance or the Father-Son Bingo events when Dad is deployed; we thank you.
To every man in uniform who, at least once in their career, has been the recipient of a hug intended for Dad and gracefully accepted it; we thank you.
To all men that set an example for kids, no matter what; we thank you.
Even if no one calls you “Dad,” you make a difference for our kids. And for that, Bonus Dads, we thank you. Happy Father’s Day.
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