With it being Father’s Day tomorrow we are celebrating the role of dad in today’s paper.
But these are not just traditional dads – we’ll come onto those later – no, we’re talking about foster dads and the vital role they have in bringing up children who may have had a disadvantaged start to their lives.
There are currently 280 foster households Sheffield – but there is a need for more and Sheffield Council is encouraging people to find out about the role.
Proving that it is never too late to make a difference, former pub landlord Ray Ducker had always wanted to foster – but it wasn’t until later in life that he provided a father figure to those in need.
The 68-year-old and his wife Audrey have made a difference to the lives of four youngsters in the last nine years.
The couple, of Mosborough, have special guardianship of a brother and sister, which means they will look after them until the age of 18, and are currently fostering two other little girls.
Fellow foster dad Andy Baker knows the difference having a father figure can make.
He has a 15-year-old son and stepson, as well as a 10-year-old foster son to look after, with his wife Helen.
The family has spent time giving their foster son new experiences – from outdoor activities to holidays – and has seen a massive difference in him.
Of course, it isn’t just foster dads who are special.
Every father can make a positive difference to the lives of their children. There is no greater gift, or responsibility, than bringing up children.
It is a challenging task – and one that most of us are wholly unprepared for regardless of the number of books we read of advice we seek.
A strong father figure is vital to our sons and daughters. In an age where we celebrate the diversity of family life the role of dad is as important as it ever was.
As Andy Baker says: “All my values, I got from my dad, and I want to see our foster son grow up to be a good person as well as look back and remember the good times he had.”
That is true for all parents regardless of family situations. We want our children to grow up to be good people.
Being a dad is the most important, rewarding job most of us will ever do.
Tomorrow we get the chance to celebrate it.
Happy Father’s Day!