Back to episodes

development | parenting

The Role of Dads – Part 1 – S2 E7

There’s a reason they say it takes a village to raise a child. And that village usually looks different for every family. Positive role models can help our little ones explore and learn more about themselves and their world. Today, we talk about the role dads play in that exploration and how they can help kids see the world from a new perspective.

Host Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez speaks with “Dad Guru” Allan Stockellburg, the executive director of Parent Aid, about fatherhood, what makes a “dad,” and how to embrace and introduce your child to role models who will push them to learn and grow.

Podcast Resources:
Guest: Allan Stockellburg
Parent Aid
Strong Families AZ
Host: Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez
Podcast Credits:

host Host: Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez is the Program Director for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program at the Arizona Department of Health Services.

host Guest: “Dad Guru” Allan Stockellburg, the executive director of Parent Aid.


[00:00:00] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Welcome to The Parenting Brief. I’m your host, Jessica Stewart Gonzalez, an Arizona working mom and Chief of The Office of Children’s Health at the Arizona Department of Health Services. Whether you’re expecting your first child or in the middle of your parenting journey, our goal is to provide you with accurate information, easy-to-implement parenting tips and reassurance that you’re doing a great job.

[00:00:27] Our guests aren’t only experts in their field, but parents too. We’ve been there or are still there, and we’re on a mission to give you the peace of mind you need.

[00:00:44] Thank you for joining us for this special episode of The Parenting Brief. Today’s topic is fatherhood. It’s too important of a topic to try and fit it into one of our brief episodes. So we expanded it to this first ever three part series. Not a dad? [00:01:00] Don’t worry. These conversations are meant for everyone. Over the course of these episodes we’ll look at the value of dad figures, how moms and dads parent differently, and what all of these dynamics mean for young children. To help me out, I’ve recruited an incredible dad and parenting expert to provide his insights just for you.

[00:01:25] Here with me today is Allan Stockellburg. He is the Executive Director of Parent Aid, an Arizona based organization on a mission to prevent child neglect by strengthening families and communities. And he’s also our dad guru who leads The Love Like A Dad Program in Arizona. He’s a dad himself and will be joining us throughout this mini series to share his expertise.

[00:01:47] Thank you for joining us, Allan.

[00:01:49] Allan Stockellburg: Yeah. Thank you for having me. That was quite an intro. Thank you.

[00:01:52] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: So to start, let’s talk about the differences between a dad and a father. Could you give us a quick definition of each [00:02:00] and explain why you say they are different?

[00:02:03] Allan Stockellburg: Sure I mean, I think some of that starts with a little bit of some background information especially a lot of people are like what? Those are the same word. Right? So for me, when, when I think of the word father, I think of a very like biological essence. If you look this up in Marion Webster’s Dictionary, which is kind of the standard, you know, it means to beget a child, it means to bring into the world, to sire, to spawn, so to me that is a biological man that you share DNA with. Right? For me, when I think of the word dad I think more of the man who shows up, you know, a lot of the times that could be the same person, the same man who is your father is also your dad, but there are other ways to show up in a child’s life in anybody’s life, really, as a man in which you’re taking on more of that kind of dad persona in there.

[00:02:49] So it’s, it’s the man that shows up. And who cares when I think of the word dad, that’s what that means for me.

[00:02:56] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: As we’re talking about the difference between that father and the dad [00:03:00] and who can play that part. I do wanna talk about gender a little bit, I guess what I’m trying to get at is in that difference between father and dad and the role that they fill, does that really need to be filled or are you identifying that as somebody who was born biologically male in filling that role? Or can that role really be filled by anybody who identifies as that dad, as that role of dad?

[00:03:31] Allan Stockellburg: Can someone show up to a child and fill the roles that they are looking for in the family that may not be being filled by a father or a dad in that role absolutely. The idea is that we need to see, what is it that this child needs from us? Do they need somebody to kind of push them competitively? Do they need someone in their life that’s gonna say rub some dirt on it and get back in the game? Do they need someone in their life [00:04:00] that’s going to just kind of be a little, I’m gonna say lower key about parenting and a little less like feeling the social issues, the social competition of what it means to be parent?

[00:04:10] So there’s a lot of different things and, and I just wanna be clear, like, in my opinion, you are not filling the role of dad. You are just filling a role that a child needs. Now, from there, if you identify as a dad, then great, then you’re a dad showing up in a child’s life. If you, in that instance, still identify as mom that’s fine. If you identify as some other family, friend, whatever, it doesn’t matter. But to me, if you’re a responsible man showing up and caring about a child, you are a dad to that child in essence. I think it’s positive that children can have multiple dad figures in their life. I hate the term father figure because of that, what we’d said earlier, like father is a title it’s something that you become. And for me, the idea of dad is something you do.

[00:04:58] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: How do we then [00:05:00] identify who that right person is to bring into our kids’ life if that dad role is not filled by that biological parent? So how do we identify or identify the right time to introduce that individual to our children? Does it have to be that romantic partner or can we find that in other ways, in order to have that dad benefit for our kids?

[00:05:30] Allan Stockellburg: I mean, quite honestly, if I had a way to say I can identify a good dad from show me a man, and I’ll tell you if he’s a good dad. If I had that ability, I probably wouldn’t be here to share it with you all cause I’d be on a beach in Maui or, or something. But, you know, I think we all have a really good read. I think we all know deep down inside, like, is this someone that can give something to my children that can add value to my child and, I think what’s important to think of is [00:06:00] if we look at everybody’s skill set, everybody’s attributes, we’re not gonna find 100% everything we’re happy with and wanna and wanna have around.

[00:06:06] Right. We’re always gonna have things like, well, I wish they didn’t do that. Um, you know, I wish they clipped their toenails in the bathroom rather than at the dinner table kind of thing. Right. Men can add value to children’s life just by showing up, that’s it. Just by showing up smiling and caring, they’re gonna add value.

[00:06:24] Now, I know there’s gonna be some men just like there are some women that really should not be involved in a child’s life. I know that we’ve met those people before, but a lot of people still can add a lot of value to a child’s life. As long as you, yourself are feeling that your child is safe in that environment, that’s really be all that is considered because they will take something out of that situation.

[00:06:46] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: I mean, I have been a single mom and I am also now married and have an amazing partner and father of my children. But I also remember as that single mom thinking, [00:07:00] I don’t need a man, you know, my kid doesn’t need a dad. I need help as a mom. But what do you say to that? Like what is that benefit of having that dad figure around without making those sacrifices or not even sacrifices, but trying to push that relationship because maybe we find it important and really kind of walk that boundary between having the benefit and the value of having that dad figure versus making sure that we’re not pushing everybody into that role.

[00:07:32] Allan Stockellburg: Sure, I think there’s a lot of statements there to unpack, like one there’s the idea of like, uh, single mom trying to do it and, I think you, you put it on there. Like, I don’t necessarily need a man here. I just need some help. Right, and something that I, I strongly believe is that no one person can be everything to a child. I don’t even think no two people can truly be everything to a child. Children need a lot of roles filled in their life.

[00:07:56] And I know we tend to throw out the term, the role of a dad quite [00:08:00] well. Sometimes I slip up and say that as well. But to me, the idea of dad is not a role to fill. When you’re showing up as a dad, you’re filling these other roles in your child’s life, you know, it might be you’re filling, you know, a coach role.

[00:08:11] You’re filling a rough housing role. You’re filling a dad joke role, which I, I personally like to fill, you know, there’s the position of being a dad fills roles, right? So as a single mom, yes. We all just need help. All of us as parents, we all just need help and support and a little bit of guidance every once in a while.

[00:08:31] And what it means just to be a parent. Right. But when it comes to dads, so many of us did not have very good models growing up. You know, either because he, himself was confused of what kind of, of man and dad, he wanted to be in his life. Uh, maybe he was completely absent. Maybe you’re not even sure who that man was.

[00:08:52] Right, I know I once had somebody ask me, like, I don’t know who my dad is. I never met him. I don’t know what it means to be a dad in your life. [00:09:00] I looked at him and, it took, I really had a search for that for quite a while. Like, you know, what can this guy rely on? Because if it’s the media, he’s not gonna find very good examples on what it means to be a good dad. Right. So I thought about it and I thought of a quote that I once heard, and it was, just think about everything that you ever yearned for and wanted as a child and do that. Everything that your heart ached for when you were eight to 12 years old, what is it that you needed in your life and just do that.

[00:09:30] Sometimes all that means is just showing up and putting your arm around them and just saying how’s your day, and just caring for one second. Sometimes that means the one that’s doing story time every night, you know, there’s a lot of different ways that can look.

[00:09:51] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Want to learn more? We have additional links and information in the show notes for you to check out. We continue our conversation with Allan in our next two [00:10:00] episodes. Next time we talk about the differences in parenting styles between moms and dads. Follow the podcast today so you don’t miss out. Until next time,

[00:10:09] this is Jessica. You’ve got this.

Back to episodes