Dads and All the Reasons We Love Them

By Kathy Knotts, CBM Bay Weekly managing editor

Father’s Day is a hard holiday for me and anyone else who lost their dad way too soon. Dads embody a different part of our hearts as children. They are our protectors, our champions, our wrestling partners.

They tell terrible jokes. “Want to hear a joke about construction? I’m still working on it.” (My husband is steadily building up his own repertoire of Dad Jokes and we love him all the more for it.)

They are masters of the grill and the remote. They are our coaches and our biggest sideline cheerleaders (and armchair quarterbacks).

And yet, we often stumble trying to express our love, appreciation and gratitude for the men in our lives. The men who take their role as father pretty seriously.

Science has been interested in figuring out “fatherly feelings” for a while now. Dads don’t experience the same biochemical bond between parent and child in the same way a woman does. Yet research shows that the father-child bond makes a major contribution to a child’s life.

A series of experiments by two neuroscientists at the University of Calgary in Alberta found that mouse dads’ brains sprout additional neurons following the birth of their pups. They developed neurons that responded specifically to the smell of their offspring and another set of new neurons grew in the hippocampus, possibly helping to cement the smell of the offspring into long-term memory. Physical contact with the pups, coupled with the smell, is what researchers think the key is to this development.

So Dad’s brain may remember how you smell, but only if he is physically present with you. Hopefully, Dad forgets what you smelled like when you entered those stinky tween-teen years.

I only had 13 years with my dad. But they were very important years. He taught me to fish, play softball, pitch a tent, paddle a canoe. He loved me, my mom and my sisters fiercely. He believed that family and faith were the most important things in our lives. And that he wouldn’t let you back in the boat until you got up on those water skis.

While I will never know what my life would have been like had he lived beyond age 42, I know my life is better for him being in it for as long as I had him.

So on that note—go give your Dad a hug or a slap on the back. Let him know how much he means to you. Buy him something special. This Father’s Day Gift Guide is full of unique ideas sure to impress, most from local businesses.

When you visit these establishments, mention you saw them in CBM Bay Weekly. They are part of our own little family, as are you, readers.