Tending To My Tree: Raising Tomorrow’s Dads

My parents divorced when my sister and I were just toddlers. I was a woman raised by women in a house that revolved entirely around…you guessed it…women.

Moving in with a man and finding out that I would be giving birth to another, were two of the single-most terrifying moments of my life…so far. Men remain an alien species to me. While I have learned a great deal over the last decade or so, I can not emphasize what a monumental learning curve I have had to face. The curve and I still spend a lot of time together. I suspect that we will continue to do so for a long time to come.

I’m 33 now, and my absentee father leaves me feeling resentful even still some days, which I never expected. But, he made his choices, and the past can not be undone. With the help of one amazing parent, I have become an intelligent, resilient, and well-intentioned woman.  I am a mother now. The Universe, in all of its mysterious glory, has given me the opportunity to raise a man of my very own, a man who will likely become a father one day not all that very far off. I am determined to do an exceptional job…and to right a wrong in the complicated bend of my family tree.

As a woman with very little fatherly experience, I may initially appear ill-equipped for the position. But, I assure you, that I am not. I have never underestimated the potential that a good man could contribute to a happy household…and the absolute magic that a great man can bring to a family.

So, as I build my own “Six Million Dollar Dad”, I weigh my words, and decisions, and actions very carefully. When I have shared my last bit of knowledge, and polished him up real nice, I will consider sharing him with a deserving partner who will value the work that I put in over the years, and who will honor the masterpiece that I have managed to assemble…A world class father that they’ll have the privilege of co-parenting with…

With him, the twist in our gnarled branches may finally be undone…

gnarled wood


Baby's First BirthdayAn empathetic man, who knows what it feels like to be cloaked in the warm love and nurturing care of a close-knit family.

A man who is unafraid of affection, and of communicating those feelings openly.

A thoughtful and sensitive man who considers others before he speaks or acts. A generous and compassionate man who is motivated to help others, and who is courageous enough to do what is right. A man smart enough to recognize that “right” when he sees it.

A communicator. A loyal and committed friend. An open-minded and tolerant spirit.

Call your mom from a shopping cartA son who remembers to call his mother once in a while.

A man who is willing to share the load, to work as long as he needs to, and to forgive when he should.

A husband and father who knows how to laugh, to relax and enjoy the comfort of good company, and who can recognize when it’s his turn to do the dishes or laundry without having to be asked.

A man who celebrates what a miraculous gift it is to be given a family…and most importantly, a man devoted to cherishing that for as long as he is alive.


The Beginning
About Jen Provenzano

Jen is an outspoken lover of all things beautiful and caffeinated. Coffee & Wine are her sister wives…and her husband & son are the limes in her Corona. She’s sharing her groggy and bloggy thoughts on Motherhood and more with anyone willing to listen. Because just like you, no one listens to her at home…

You can find her relatively coherent ramblings at: www.lifeonthesonnyside.com

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  1. Brandon P. Duncan says:

    You know, this is something I really never considered. We hear all the time “I never had a dad, so I’m trying to be the best one I can be.” or similar. I bet it is very tough to show someone HOW to be a good dad not having one to base the process from. I hope, at a minimum, you had a figure to model from. If not, the kid will be everything you WANTED one to be. Nothing wrong with that!

    Great article.

    • Thank you so much Brandon! Lots of great examples out there on how to do it right! I’m busy taking good notes most of the time 😉

  2. James Hudyma says:

    I love seeing a mom’s perspective on this issue. Now, I know it would be on a parent’s mind regardless of your or your child’s gender, but I find it fascinating to get a mom’s perspective on raising tomorrow’s dads.

    I love your family-first message.

    Excellent post!

  3. I’m not surprised to be reading a great post and realizing it was written by you, Jen! Beautiful job! You reminded me of all of the things I need to be doing and appreciating as a father and husband. I think I’ll go call my Mom…

    • Justin, you really know how to compliment a gal! Yes, go call her! We’ll wait here 😉

  4. Turns out a Mom who grew up without a father still knows very well what a father should be. Your Father missed out on a great honor, but I’m sure your husband and son help to heal that wound every day. I imagine your son will be a fantastic father because it would seem your mother raised a great mother. Glad the DadsRT pointed me in your direction.

    • Thank you SO much for those kind words. It’s an honor to be contributing here. The dudes of Dads Round Table are wise beyond their years!

  5. I kept copying lines from your article to reference down here as one of my favorite lines and with each paragraph I had a new favorite. In short, stop making it so hard for me to compliment you!

    But, these are probably my favorite:

    “An empathetic man, who knows what it feels like to be cloaked in the warm love and nurturing care of a close-knit family.”

    “A man who is unafraid of affection, and of communicating those feelings openly.”

    I can’t tell you how much I agree with wanting to raise my sons with those qualities. And in my opinion, the second one is a direct result of the first one. I’m very comfortable with affection and communicating my feelings because of the close-knit, loving family environment I grew up in. Very little rattled me growing up because I knew I always had this “foundation” behind me. I want this for my sons in the worst way and so far I’m seeing it pan out in their confidence with the world at large.

    Jen, I’ve said it before, but one of my favorite parts of this writing experience is learning about the backgrounds of my peers and the variety of paths we have all taken to this common destination of parenting in 21st century. And beyond that, how I find myself looking up to people who didn’t grow up in that perceived “traditional” family environment.

    I look up to you as a parent, Jen, and have no doubt in my mind your son is going to grow up to be a great man and father.

    Beautifully written with phenomenal perspective and I can’t wait for your next one.

    • Brad, this is a compliment that I’ll cherish for a long time to come. It all means a great deal coming from a writer, and friend, that I respect so much. Your kids are infinitely lucky to have a father who takes the job so seriously. None of you can go wrong with that in your bag of tricks 😉

  6. OpinionsToGo says:

    A lovely post! As a mom to 3 sons and 1 daughter, I understand how much you want your little guy to be everything that you didn’t have . I have to say, it’s true about learning by example. My husband taught them how to be in a healthy loving relationship, by being in a healthy loving relationship. He taught them to have a good work ethic, by having a good work ethic. We, together showed them about teamwork, and generosity and laughing…we laugh a lot!

    • Thank you! I love reading things like this. In a culture where the news is inundated with stories of broken homes, skyrocketing divorce rates, and kids gone wrong, that there is still so much hope out there because of families like yours! Thank you for sharing this! And I wholeheartedly agree…we’d be lost without the laughter!!

  7. What a beautiful post. You have all your priorities right and will no doubt raise a beautiful boy into an amazing man.

  8. Roshni says:

    Amen to that! May our sons be all that and more!
    Wonderful post, Jen! Why do I get the feeling that you may be describing the father too?! 🙂

    • Roshni! I would love to hear your take on this topic! You’re one of my favorite voices about raising the male species 😉

  9. Jen, this is so heartwarming. You are such a sweet, intelligent person. No doubt, your son will be an awesome guy. I struggle with raising my sons as good young men. It’s overwhelming sometimes, and Hubby and I feel outnumbered all the time. But, I think about my dad and what a wonderful person he is, and I strive to create that in my boys.

    • Kathy, thank you SO much! I always say this, but warm words that come from you mean such a great deal to me. You mother with such humor and heart…you’re knocking out of the ballpark lady…I aspire to follow suit 😉 Those boys of yours…they’re going to be AMAZING! You’re father sounds like a great man.

  10. I, too was from a family of all girls…the oldest of five girls and I vowed I would be the mom of a huge family of boys. I had enough estrogen and the drama that it causes to last me a lifetime. Then when I gave birth to my son, I looked at him completely clueless as to how I was going to raise him. Scared to death at the prospect but you know what? All of the things you mentioned here are all the same things I want to instill in him and his brother (my daughters are a whole other story) and with my husband, who is a pretty good guy himself doing it with me, it’s not so scary anymore. It sounds like your little guy is going to grow up to be one fantastic guy that some girl is going to be lucky to have. And I have a feeling he won’t forget to call.

    • Jen says:

      Thank you AnnMarie! So sweet of you to say. The oldest of FIVE girls! You win 😉 That’s way more estrogen than we were dealing with…

  11. Love this! I was petrified that I was going to have a boy – because I have NO idea how to raise boys. But, parenting is a learning experience. One in which we hope to release really great people unto the universe. It sounds like your little one is well on his way to being one of the greats. Good job Mommy!

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