Should We Rename Father’s Day to Daddy’s Day? Being a Dad or a Father

In Family, General, Opinion, Parenting by Michael Sheehan1 Comment

First of all, Happy Father’s Day 2012 to all of the dads, dads-to-be and father-figures out there! Sunday is your day of recognition and pride so enjoy it! This week, as I was socializing my Father’s Day Reviewed Gifts Guide, I was putting in some hashtags into my tweets. When I had space, I used #fathersday or #father but when I had only a couple of characters left, I used #dadsday or #dad. And this got me thinking about the two terms a bit: father vs dad.

Is there a difference between being a father and being a dad? I think that there is, but I would love to get some thoughts from my readers so be sure to weigh in below in the comments area. And should we rename Father’s Day to Daddy’s Day? (Or, as my 8 year old wrote on her calendar – “Da Da Day!”)


In my mind, the word “father” seems to be much more serious in nature. When you fill out a form, it’s always “Father’s Name.” If your child gets in trouble, it’s always, “wait till your father gets home” or “what is your father’s phone number?” And, I used the term “father-figure” above which, in my mind, brings up the idea of someone of authority like a teacher or someone in law enforcement.

“Dad” on the other hand, to me brings out the idea of fun. My kids call me “daddy” which is a term of endearment. Even when they are mad at me, they still use “Dad” and when they talk to their friends, they don’t say “my father wouldn’t let me do it” it’s “my dad wouldn’t let me do it.”

I think what clearly defines the difference is exemplified by looking at these two phrases:

“Who is that child’s father?”

“Who is that child’s dad?”

A father is biological. They provide the DNA and make the mother’s egg alive. A father’s “duty” is to fertilize the egg and that is it. The level of commitment is minimal at that point. There is no ownership or responsibility after that (unless legally defined).

A dad is relational, meaning, it is a relationship that spans time. It is the dad who is the role model, the one who contributes to the life, ideas, feeling and growth of the child. It is the position of responsibility. A dad is there forever, physically in actions and beyond in memories. A dad nurtures and protects their child, provides them with the tools to grow into adults.

The definitions of the terms show “dad” as being an informal version of “father”.



But I believe that it is much more than that. Anyone can become a father. It is the result a physical act that literally takes seconds. And while there is DNA involved, the DNA isn’t what creates ideas, passion, and love with the child. Being a dad does. You become a dad only with years and years of hard work, commitment, sacrifice, love and action. For me, it’s easy to articulate the difference. I am adopted. I have never met my (biological) father. But I have a dad. He’s the one who taught me how to write, think, analyze and have a sense of humor. I wrote about him last year.


So, I ask you, are you a father or a dad? If you have no relationship with your child, left them, are completely checked-out and neglect your kids, or were never present to help nurture or raise them, you are simply a father to them. If they come to you for support, with questions, to cuddle or feel comfort, to play, to cry, to learn or to grow, you are a dad.

Always strive to be a dad. Be there. Be proud of your relationship with them. Be supportive. Be a rock. And be a never-ending hug.

For all of those DADS out there – Happy Daddy’s Day!

HTD says: How are you being a Dad?