We appreciate all the dads out there doing their jobs

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By Alice Du Pont

My sister and I took one of our friends out to lunch Saturday. He doesn't have family here and during a recent conversation we thought it would be a nice idea. He selected the restaurant and we set out for a nice afternoon. First thing I noticed was that there weren't a lot of people out beating the rush, as they do for Mother's Day.

We also stopped by a few shops and the shoppers were scarce. No one seemed to be planning a big day for Sunday.

On the way back home the conversation turned to the lack of shopprs. I suggested it could have been the heat or the economy. Our friend, who has two adult children, said it was neither.

"Fathers just don't have the same standing as mothers. Mother's Day, you couldn't find a seat in a restaurant around here Saturday or Sunday. And if you wanted to get flowers, you had to get them early," he said.

There are some deadbeat dads and there are dads who may provide for the family financially but not emotionally. It's changing, but a lot of men were taught not to hug and kiss their children.

I want to talk about the good dads of the world. Like the one who, last week, drove to Atlanta to take his daughter to the zoo because she said that's what she wanted as a reward for making good grades and getting promoted to third grade. The couple are no longer together but since their 3 years ago this man has made every effort to be a part of his child's life.

In a few weeks she's coming here to spend a month. Seeing them together for the last 2 years as he takes her around to meet his friends and to enjoy some of the things this area has to offer, both of them are happy with each other.

Of course, fathers need a mother who will cooperate for the well-being of the child. Sometimes when the emotional feeling between the parents is over, some women use the children to punish the man. That's just wrong.

There have always been dads who raised the family. Whether the mother died early or she decided that motherhood isn't for her, many men have stepped up to the plate and have done a fine job turning children into productive young men and women.

I don't want to leave out accolades for the man who steps in and rears another man's children. When a man married a woman with children, he's making a commitment that he will be the father in that household. That, I suspect, is not an easy task given some of the attitudes that many teenagers have in their transition years.

Shaquille O'Neal has nothing but praise for his stepfather. He just happens to have helped rear a superstar but there are thousands of ordinary kids walking around who were influenced by a stepfather.

Whatever your role in a child's life, dads, you are appreciated.