Breaking Down the Words: Dad and Father


The words dad and father are often used interchangeably, but they really shouldn’t. In my opinion the true meanings of these words do have commonalities, they do overlap in certain ways, but they are not the same.  The Webster’s Dictionary definitions show these words as complete equals:

Dad:  A person’s father

Father: A male parent

I just don’t see it.  In my eyes you can be a dad without being a father, you can be a father without being a dad, and you could be both dad and father.  I think we should all strive to be both, but it’s hard.  When I visualize this concept I see it as a sort of spectrum that exists in a triangular shape:

DAF Triangle

Essentially, my differentiation seems to come down to a maturity level.  Are you there to be the fun parent or are you there to help your child grow?  Personally, I love being called daddy, but sometimes I wonder, “am I being enough of a father too?”

To me, a father

  • is a consistent presence in the life of his child
  • does what’s necessary to provide and protect
  • asks for help when he needs it
  • teaches and trains up his children
  • loves his children no matter what
  • encourages his children to find their own hobbies

To me, a dad

  • is the friend
  • teaches interpersonal interaction
  • has fun with his children
  • loves his children no matter what
  • shares his hobbies

I feel that it’s important, at least for me, to try to be both a dad and father to my girls.  They need to know that I’m here for them and I’m here to laugh with them.  I want them to be able to come to me with questions about their futures and questions about their hobbies.  Being dad and father is only part of the equation for what my children need, so it’s important to do my part to keep the equation balanced.

No man can be everything their child needs, but it’s definitely worth striving for.


4 thoughts on “Breaking Down the Words: Dad and Father

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