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Showing Affection – Extended Version

I love my son, and I love showing him that love whenever I can–be it with a hug, cuddling, and (of course) lots of kisses. Sometimes, I feel the uncomfortable stares of strangers when my son is running to me across the park–to give me a big bear hug–or when he’s snuggled up falling asleep in my arms.

At first, I thought it might just be me. Perhaps I was imagining it? Or, they thought I was a stranger-dude gathering up the boy in a bear-hug. In some ways, I could understand a questioning look or at least a glance across the space–particularly up until my son gleefully exclaims: “DADA” and catapults himself into my waiting arms.

But, I’ve discovered, it’s not just me… I belong to a group of few Dad Bloggers. Like me, they are fellow 388891_10151366540472151_1923452298_n1dads who show love to their children in public. And, they too experience the uncomfortable, mean, always so unmoveable stares from other parents, or even strangers walking by.

I, for one, don’t understand this. As a society, we complain that dads don’t take enough of a role in raising our children, and that they don’t show enough love and affection for their children.

I know, there are people out there who do unspeakable things to children. Dr. Gene Abel estimates that between 1% and 5% of our population molest children (CNN Specials Transcript #454-Thieves of Childhood). And, according to a U.S. Department of Justice report, 10% of sex offenders are women. (It should also be noted that sexual victimization is significantly under-reported overall, and reliable information about the incidents of sex crimes committed by females is difficult to obtain. Nonetheless, a variety of sources can collectively provide a working estimate of the scope of the problem, including arrest trends, census and caseload data from criminal and juvenile justice agencies, representation in sex offender treatment programs, and victimization reports.)

So, even when we probably don’t have the full abysmal truth, and if even a few of those reports are accurate–that would mean of the 319 million people in the US (US Census Bureau) 3,190,000 – 15,950,000 have molested a child. The US Justice Department Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking, (SMART for short) says there are 747,408 registered sex offenders in the US.

I know what the numbers say, and I will admit I am guilty of the same fearful imaginings as a lot of people. When a women comes up to my son and is telling me (and him) how cute he is and smiles at him, I am ok with her behavior. But, if a man were to come up and say the same thing to my son, I would second-guess it, and might even feel uncomfortable with it.

I kiss and hug my son as often as I can, and I know there will come a day when he won’t like kisses and hugs from his old man. I know we all want to protect our children from all that is bad (and evil) in this world, but do we have to look at everything around us (second guessing everyone and everything), seeing them all as a potential (or real) threat to our children? Do we need to be that callous–that jaded?

Have we, as a society, forgotten the truth that “it takes a village”? Do we always have to look at every person and every situation as a threat?

Personally, I think we need to re-evaluate our thought processes, as there are men out there who truly love their children–who love to cuddle, kiss and hug their children. Why should we deign to look at them in a funny way, because they do it? Isn’t that what we want, isn’t that what we have been asking for?

There is darkness out there (there are indisputable stories of hatred, murderous rage and neglectful abuse). And, we all know that there are people who mean to do harm to our children. But, if we fail to see beyond the murky darkness in the hearts of some of those who would do our choldren wrong, we miss out on the rest of the whole-world of possibilities.

It true… We should have a healthy distrust of other people when it comes to our children (particularly when they’re strangers, and we have no basis of trust), but it also shouldn’t matter if it is a man or woman. Even though we yend to see women as more mother figures, both genders have statistical possibilities of do harm to our kids.

We must remain ever-vigilant. Ever-aware and prepared we must listen, and be prepared to act when our children are in danger.

We also need to teach our kids the same level of hyper vigilance. If we want our men to be better dads, we first need to modernize our mindset and recognize that the men who make up the great men/dads far out-pace the bad apples (unfortunately,  a few rotten seems to spoil the perception all those REALLY great dads out there… who are all just taking care of their families, building healthy and loving relationships with their kids, and just trying to survive in the maelstrom…

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