3 Lessons Having an Atypical Dad Teaches You
Family,  Mommy

3 Important Lessons Having an Atypical Dad Teaches You

As Father’s Day approaches, I think about the most important man in my life, my Dad.  I think of my Dad as an atypical dad.  My parents aren’t divorced, separated, or estranged in any way but for as long as I could remember, my brothers and I lived with my Mom while my Dad worked somewhere else; sometimes in another city, state, or even country.  This is our family norm. 

In the past few years, I’ve seen different counselors and every time I give my account of my family life, counselors can easily point a finger at my Dad and say that this is where my problems began.  They would tell me, you have these problems because your Dad wasn’t around.  Then I would explain how my Dad is the best example of a dad and how more dads should strive to be just like him and this is why…

3 Important Lessons Having an Atypical Dad Teaches You3 Important Lessons Having an Atypical Dad Teaches You
Hard Work & Dedication

My Dad taught me what true hard work is.  My Dad has done the same job for over 30 years.  He is now a senior health physics tech that travels to various locations to monitor and eliminate radioactive waste.  In fact it’s his work that inspired me to go to college for Chemical Engineering.  My Dad has worked his way up earning the respect of many of his coworkers because of how hard he works.  He is an accurate, reliable, and an honest man.  He is never late and will be the first at work at 4:00 AM and the last to leave.  He works on weekends and sometimes he doesn’t get a single day off for months.  During busy seasons he spends 12 or more hours at work and he never misses work for being sick. 

He doesn’t have a comfy office job in an air-conditioned room but instead spends most of his time outside exposed to all kinds of weather.  The best part about my Dad is that he isn’t bitter like most of us would be with a schedule and work environment like this.  He can still cracks jokes, do the job and get it done.  He could easily laugh at someone that complains about how tough they have it at their job but he doesn’t because he’s not that kind of man.  You don’t know what it means to have a long day at work unless you’ve fallen asleep at the dinner table seated upright (I have the pictures to prove it).

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Marriage & Family

My Dad taught me the meaning of marriage commitment.  My parents have been married for 37 years this month and 95% of those years were spent away from each other.  In fact, my Dad wasn’t even in the same country when I was born.  Nevertheless my parents’ marriage is strong, healthy and faithful; it is untainted by marital affairs.  I struggle in my own marriage and counselors have told me that I’ve never seen a functional marriage because my Dad wasn’t around for me to see how a married couple behaves and therefore, why my marriage struggles.  I believe that although my upbringing was less than ideal and not considered “the norm”, my parents showed me what a marriage commitment, faithfulness, and love looks like.  The struggles my parents must’ve went through being apart from each other and yet they succeeded in caring for and raising 3 kids together all these years apart.  I have seen marriages fail for far less reasons.

My Dad taught me that family comes first.  He spends most of his time away from family because he takes his role as our family’s provider seriously.  He does what he needs to do to provide for us because family always comes first.  All these years I’ve always wondered how my Dad could deal with being away from his wife and kids for so long.  I would see my Dad 3-4 times a year, sometimes visits from my Dad would be as short as a weekend, as long as 1-2 weeks and then I wouldn’t see him again for a few months.  I’m now 29 years old and my Dad has been doing this all my life.

Love & Sacrifice

It is needless to say that my Dad has also taught me what real true love and sacrifice looks like because he lives it every day of his life for his family.  There is no other person, no typical dad, that could’ve taught this any better than my Dad.  I have never felt unloved by my Dad because he “wasn’t around” or blame my Dad for any of the circumstances I find myself in.  My Dad has always had my best interests for me and has never turned his back on me when I failed him.  My atypical Dad is the perfect example of what a dad-figure should be.  I have never seen any other typical Dad that takes his role more seriously as a husband, father, provider, or protector than my atypical Dad that most counselors do not approve of.

There’s a particular song that always reminds me of my Dad and although it refers to God as our Father, I’d also like to think that earthly fathers strive to be this as well…

Chris Tomlin – Good Good Father
I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you’re pleased
And that I’m never alone
Chorus: You’re a good good father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am
I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching
For answers only you provide
‘Cause you know just what we need
Before we say a word
Because you are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways to us
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways to us
Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think
As you call me deeper still
As you call me deeper still
As you call me deeper still
Into love, love, love

Things to Consider

What Lessons did your Dad teach you that couldn’t be taught by anyone else?
What is your favorite quality about your Dad?
What advice do you have for new Dads?

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Wife, Stay at Home Mom of two boys, and blogger. Friends and family call me Kaye but my personal favorite is "Mom." I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to be at home with my two baby boys. As an engineer by career, and stay-at-home mom by choice, I write about how to “Invent. Innovate. Design. Mommyhood” and what that entails.

  • http://www.rachelteodoro.com Rachel Teodoro

    Such great lessons to learn from your father!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering


  • Katina Davenport

    God I want to cry reading this post. Father’s Day has always been emotional for me because my father was not around. I knew him, spent time with him, but my parents were never married. I have a husband who is an excellent father so we celebrate in a big way for him. It’s my chance to be thankful for having a husband who is a great dad and father to our children.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Aw that is so beautiful Katina! I’m so happy you’ve found a wonderful man that is a wonderful husband and father! I hope he has a wonderful Father’s Day! <3

  • Nicole Burkholder

    Wow, that’s definitely atypical! Kudos to your mom and dad for making it work for so many years. I don’t think I could handle being a single mom-that’s impressive. You dad sounds like a really hard working man.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I have a hard time when my husband’s on a work thing in another state for a few days, I just couldn’t imagine doing this parenting thing without him! <3 Thanks for visiting!

  • Cassie Liz

    Your dad sounds like an amazing man and obviously sacrificed so much for your family. What beautiful lessons to share – I hope you show him this xx

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Thanks Cassie! I’m not so sure my Dad would be so enthusiastic about sharing such details because, it probably isn’t surprising that he’s a private man LOL. Maybe someday he will stumble onto this, who knows 😛

  • Abby Lewtas

    Wow this is a beautiful read. I feel in a very similar position so I can relate to a lot of things you mention here. Thank you so much for your take xoxoxo

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Thanks Abby!

  • Ang

    Wow this is so beautiful Father’s Day is such an emotional time.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Thank you! Father’s Day is emotional for me in so many ways!

  • Kaya La Roche

    This is so beautiful. I had a step dad like this and I hope my daughter will think of her dad in this way. X

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I’m sure she will. She is very lucky to have a Dad like this, trust me! 🙂

  • Stacey Dadd

    I love this. Seriously. Not every family fits the typical cookie cutter and I think ones that don’t often last longer and love harder than the regular variety. I’ve learnt so much from my Dad and I can honestly say he is one of my best friends, always has been, even through the awkward teenager years (read: all the crap I put him through haha). The biggest thing my Dad taught me was the true meaning of hard work. A farmer all his life, who often worked 18 hour days away from his family, simply to put food on the table and provide for his family. xx

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Gosh Stacey! I’m so glad you shared this about your Dad! You know, I often don’t see these qualities in men these days (is it just me?) My dad always told me to marry someone like him. Does he not know how difficult those qualities are to find?! I’ve been on dates where the guy didn’t open doors for me. If they can’t even do that, how the heck can I find a man to measure up to my Dad?! My husband has some big shoes to fill 😛

      • Stacey Dadd

        Oh I know right! My Dad always told me to marry a farmers son and I’d be OK and all my life I was like Daaaad NO! I have bigger ambitions in life. Well yeah, LOL, after dating a lot of idiots (like you said, that don’t even open doors for you) I found a reaaaaly nice guy. Guess what. Turns out he was a farmers son and he is very much like my Dad in his core values and beliefs. It’s pretty damn awesome!! 😀

  • Susanne Leggett Stewart

    It is so great that you had such a strong role model as a father, even if he wasn’t always there. He made great sacrifices for his family and that is a rare thing nowadays.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I agree on the rare. It’s hard to find and in the generation I’m in, its basically impossible lol.

  • http://www.scatteredthoughtsofacraftymom.com/ Jamie

    This was such a lovely post! Such great lessons!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering


  • http://www.sahmreviews.com Scott

    A post like this is gift enough for any dad. Of course we’d still like some tools too…

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      My dad and his tools! Thanks for visiting!

  • Candice McReynolds

    An “absent” father, although I think yours was far from absent, is better than a poor father. I struggle to this day to love my father, because of the poor example he set. I think your father was incredibly strong and impressionable to shape his children from afar. He obviously did a fabulous job because of the tender and beautiful words you write about him.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Thank you, he is a good father, it’s just sad he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for the sacrifices that he’s made.

  • Louise Smith

    I can never understand why counselors always seem to point the finger of blame towards absent fathers. I mean, you’ve just shown that sometimes dads are away for a totally different reason to what you would expect. Your dad sounds absolutely perfect, and as his daughter you must be extremely proud of him 🙂

    Louise x

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      It’s an easy finger to point and a far better approach then, “actually, its no one else’s fault, its the choices YOU’VE made that put you in my office.” I’m sure clients don’t want to hear that. I do see there are circumstances in which absent fathers have a negative impact on a child’s life but until a therapist understands my family background, they immediately point fingers before all the facts are there.

  • Robin Rue

    Your dad sounds like an amazing man. I can’t believe they spent so much time apart and are still going strong.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      It’s something amazing to watch from the sidelines. Now with divorces over 50% its hard to find a good example of a true marriage and what it means to be in one.

  • http://livingthegourmet.com/ Lady Gourmet

    A beautiful post for father’s day and great post in honor of your dad. Some wish they were so lucky to have someone like that in their life.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I am lucky and although I wish was around to teach me a few more things when I was little, it wasn’t worth the exchange of what he did teach me.

  • http://www.marathonsandmotivation.com Angela Cardamone Campos

    What a beautiful post. I especially love the poem you shared at the end. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      It’s a beautiful song and I hope to play it for him someday

  • http://www.terristeffes.com Terri Steffes

    My dad taught me to stand up for myself. He taught me that if I was in the right, he would have my back, but if I was in the wrong, to accept my consequences and do better.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I think that is a very fatherly thing to say 🙂

  • Tonya Wilhelm

    What a great Dad! Those are some great life lessons.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering


  • Tiffany Meiter

    Great story! He sounds like an amazing father who fully loved and supported the family. Working so hard to make sure you all are provided for and happy.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Absolutely 🙂 Thanks for visiting!

  • katrina

    great story! we do all we can for our kids. all parents should be like this

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I believe that too and I hope i’m this kind of parent to my kids someday

  • Angela Milnes

    This is a lovely post. My hubby is very similar to the father you describe……different but hard working and caring and he is the best!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      You definitely have a keeper <3

  • http://www.enjoylondon.co/ Enjoy London

    Beautiful history, parents we do as much as we can for our kids that means sometimes we have to work hard and be appart from them. I understand why he was really good example. I felt in love with your poem

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering


  • Tracy Morgan

    Wow, I love this. I love how you can see the good in your dad and all the things he WAS rather than the things he wasn’t. So easy for us to blame our parents (I do it myself), so this is amazingly refreshing to read!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      It is easy to blame! I’ve done it and regret it and I know better now and understand what sacrifices my parents have made for me

  • http://clutterboxblog.com/ Angela Tolsma

    There are so many different varieties of having a healthy parent. I am glad that you see the awesome things your dad was able to do for you!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Awesome is quite an understatement given what my dad had to give up 🙂

  • http://awayfromtheblue.blogspot.com/ Mica

    That is a beautiful song to illustrate your point. It must have been so hard for you and your dad growing up and seeing so little of each other, but you felt no less loved which is an awesome thing. Your dad works so hard, waht a great role-model! 🙂

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      A role model is right, he definitely gave my brothers and my husband huge shoes to fill

  • http://www.oneawesomemomma.com/ Belle Bermudez-Tubel

    This is such a beautiful post and a great reminder that we should also look at the positive things in the people in our lives!

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Positives and not the negatives! <3

  • Amanda Love

    Fathers have a huge role in our lives and they have plenty of lessons to teach as well, just like mom. I think it’s important to have a strong father figure like your dad as a child grows up.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      My dad always made his presence known haha

  • Pam from Wine and Lavender

    We didn’t get to spend a lot of time with my Father when we were younger because he was always working- graveyard shifts, double shifts, etc… When we did see him, he was sleeping because he had been working so much. He was an A-Typical Dad, but we all love and respect him so much because everything he did, he did for us, and we know it.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Absolutely! Your father is an atypical dad but a very good dad! He probably showed you a lot of the life lessons my dad showed me 🙂

  • Reesa Lewandowski

    Both my husband and my dad are very hard workers. It’s hard for my kids because my husband works overnights, but it is what it is. I am very lucky to have great role models for my children.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      It is hard for the kids but your kids have a great example of a father figure and will definitely benefit from that in their own future with their families! <3

  • Christine Cox

    I have a friend whose husband works 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off and I just don’t know how she does it all with her 2 kids without him around every evening. I’d go nuts. I give props to her and to your mom for doing it all without the help of a dad.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      It’s hard! I’m married and my husband is the typical dad that comes home every day. I seriously couldn’t imagine how my mom did it!

  • http://www.primebeautyblog.net PrimeBeauty

    We can learn a lot from out dads. My dad loved his family but he definitely spent a lot of time at work trying to provide for us.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Yeah and even though my husband is at home every night, he does take work home with him and it feels like he never stops working.

  • http://www.primebeautyblog.net Blythe A.

    I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl. When I was younger he could do know wrong. I’m still a Daddy’s girl, but I don’t totally feel the same as I did back then, especially now that I feel more like the parent.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I was daddy’s girl because he always wanted a girl haha, he wished I was a boy because I was interested in all the boy things like car maintenance. <3

  • http://www.positivekismet.com/ ElizOF

    What an interesting share. May I ask where your dad was all those years? I can only imagine the challenges .

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      He worked in many different states over the years. Jumping from one radioactive cleanup project to the next. I’m pretty sure he’s been in every state except for Alaska.

  • Jeannette

    I can only imagine how hard it must have been on your family to have your dad away so much. I think it only shows how strong your parents’ marriage was.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Definitely a true example of commitment for sure!

  • http://www.townsend-house.com/ Heather

    Wow! That is so complicated for your parents to be married yet your dad always being gone. It sounds like they have a great relationship, and that he has taught you a lot!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      He did and I’m sure there were strain in the marriage but they made it through it!

  • http://www.fashionxfairytale.com/ Jackie

    What a sweet post. I’ve been a daddy’s girl my whole life and have a great relationship with him. My parents have been married as long as yours and still together and I hope to have a marriage like theirs. I hope you get through and have a successful one like theirs.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I hope so too, marriage is no joke!

  • Missy Burson

    I love that despite your dad not physically being around, you still took some very important lie lessons. It shows so many people with split or blended families that dads can still be “present” and teach kids positive lessons despite being geographically apart.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I think its important that both parents are involved in their children’s lives and there are just things our dads need to teach us and no one else.

  • http://fashionphases.com/ Fashion Phases

    My father also worked long hours as well. The little free time he had he made sure to spend it with us which we appreciated and treasured.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Thats sweet, I remember my dad use to write use notes on paper towels and stick it around the house because he would have to leave very early in the morning to drive to whichever project he needed to be at. We’d wake up to paper towel notes stuck to our doors and kitchen cabinets lol. Apparently my dad didn’t bother finding paper lol

  • http://thekrystaldiaries.com Krystal // The Krystal Diaries

    I think it’s wonderful your parents have been married for so long! It’s so great that they have such a strong and loving marriage.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Great role models <3

  • Amber Nelson

    These are definitely some important life lessons! What a sweet post for Father’s Day!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Thank you!

  • http://thegoodheartedwoman.com Renée ♥ The Good Hearted Woman

    Perspective is so important. It is so uplifting to read how you strive to see the positive side of your unusual upbringing, and how it shaped you for good.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      It’s so true about perspective! Sometimes we just take the wrong perspective. Thanks for visiting!

  • Trisha Rawlings

    This was such a great read! You are so lucky to have such a great dad! And he’s lucky to have you who can realize and understand the sacrifices he makes for his family.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Thanks! I’m sure he doesnt’ feel like we understand those choices but we do <3

  • http://toughcookiemommy.com/ Maria – Tough Cookie Mommy

    My Dad has always done a great job of teaching me the importance of working hard. It is one of the lessons that has stayed with me over the years.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      That’s what I think most fathers teach their kids and I think they just do it best <3

  • sauumye

    This is such a great read!! My dad taught me all about patience & it’s fruits. It will always be a lesson I will cherish!!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      So glad your dad taught you those things 🙂 My dad wasn’t patient but he learned with age haha. Thanks for visiting!

  • Yasmin Ali

    this is such a great read! Made me reflect on my dad himself and how he taught me the value of working hard as well!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      What a great dad to teach you those things! Thanks for visiting!

  • Nichole

    This is a great read and so appropriate with Father’s Day having just passed. Thank you for sharing your reflections!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Thanks for visiting!

  • Neely

    What a sweet post! I love seeing my hubs with our sweet little boy. I know hes making such an impact

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      They do! Even those little things of just being held. My husband remembers those moments with his dad the best.

  • http://parentingpatch.com/ Heather Johnson

    My dad worked a lot. So does my husband. Sometimes being a great dad is making the sacrifice to work and support your kiddos.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Exactly. Dads teach us hard work and sacrifice along with a great deal of commitment!

  • Trish

    This is a wonderful, sweet post! Your dad sounds like a very dedicated person who works really hard for his family.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Absolutely! Thank you!

  • Neha Saini

    this is a great post. your dad is a wonderful father. The real men who works for his family’s happiness.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Sometimes I have a hard time seeing the real men in society these days. They are not like my dad at all =/

  • Krystal Gurnell

    Awesome post! Having a great dad makes all the difference!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      So true! Thank you!

  • Janella Panchamsingh

    Chris Tomilin is my favourite and good good father makes me cry every time!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I love his songs too! Such a great song <3

  • http://toughcookiemommy.com/ Maria – Tough Cookie Mommy

    I think it’s great that, even though he wasn’t the traditional dad, he was able to impart lessons to you nonetheless. This was a great way to recognize him.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Thank you!

  • Lena B

    Such a great article – I can’t help but admire your dad. I am so happy that he know how much you appreciate him

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Maybe he knows haha! Thanks for visiting!