In Praise of Hands-On Fathers

A new study finds dads are now more involved in their children's lives. I think I've hit the jackpot with a husband who makes our girls the center of his world every single day.A new study finds dads are now more involved in their children's lives. I think I've hit the jackpot with a husband …When I was 8 months old, my parents divorced, and my father disappeared from my life. It didn't happen overnight--I have memories of him being around when I was younger--but ultimately, I was raised by my mom, which was really all for the best. My husband, too, grew up most of his life without his father in the picture.

That's why I knew that finding my soul mate was not only based on compatibility but also on the type of father I thought he would be. And I think a lot of how my husband is with our two girls is about him wanting to make sure they feel loved and cared for, to feel that they are the center of his world every single day.

In a recent study, the CDC is finding that my husband isn't the only father becoming more involved in his children's lives. Since the CDC first asked involvement questions of fathers in 2002, the numbers are rising.

According to the survey, for dads of children 5 or younger, nine in 10 are participating in activities like bathing their children, helping them use the bathroom and assisting with getting dressed a few times a week. More dads are playing with their children on a daily basis, along with sitting down for family meals. And two out of three dads are reading books to their children several times a week.

When I look at these statistics, I can't help but giggle. If the CDC is getting excited about dads participating a few or several times a week, then I must have hit the jackpot with my husband! He doesn't do these things just a few times a week, but every day--and then some.

Related: 7 Things Moms Can Learn from Dads

When my oldest daughter was first born, he changed her first diaper, meconium and all. He was excited to get this honor as it was his first diaper change, too. When she was an infant, he gave her baths every night. It was their time to bond. He has gone through being her jungle gym before she began walking to now giving her daily piggy back rides down the stairs as he pretends to be a horse or a dragon or a tiger or whatever Abby asks of him. She has a book spot, right next to Daddy in his chair, where she snuggles up as he reads book after book to her. During the work week, he's the one getting her dressed every morning and brushing her hair and teeth. And when she needs her butt wiped, he gladly obliges.

It's pretty amazing to see how these two have grown together. I often sit back in amazement at the strong bond they share, sometimes with tears of joy in my eyes.

He's her hero. He transforms into her Prince Charming or Eugene from Tangled. He'll play along as she's Ariel and he's Prince Eric. And the same goes when she puts on her Viking helmet, says she's Hiccup and he's Toothless, her dragon, from How to Train Your Dragon.

She constantly tells him how much she loves him, unprompted, and I see how his face lights up when she utters those words.

This bond has strengthened even more between the two of them this past year as I grew massively pregnant. He picked up a bunch of the slack during the first trimester when I was exhausted and so sick. And he brought his A-game during the latter part of my pregnancy when it became more difficult to do everyday tasks, from taking her to the park or running errands to once again taking over bath time every night. And now, as we just welcomed our second daughter, he's working so hard to make sure Abby feels involved and loved and not pushed aside especially as I'm in the midst of cluster-feeding a newborn.

My husband is the ultimate nurturer, and it has been amazing to see him begin this bonding experience all over again with our sweet baby, Olive. And the best part yet is seeing the three of them all snuggled together. My husband and his girls--our girls. I feel so blessed that he is their father, that he is my husband, and I can't wait to watch their amazing relationship grow as they get older.

- By Tracy Brennan

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