In Tuesday's New York Times, there was an article entitled "Losing Fatherhood" that explores how DNA testing has changed the face of Fatherhood in America. It's an interesting read and raises the question of what does it really mean to be a Father.
Last night on the ABC comedy the Modern Family, the patriarch played by Ed O'Neill (of Al Bundy fame) states that "90% of being a Father is just showing up."
In Modern Family Ed O'Neill's character, Jay Pritchett, has an adult gay son who is in a couple and has an adopted daughter, and an adult daughter who is married with three children as well. In addition, Jay Pritchett has re-married to a younger woman and has a step-son. Although there are three distinct families in the show, all with different "father figures", they are all tied together by their relationship to Jay.
In last night's episode (available online here) Jay plays the role of grand-father, father and step-father and in all of these interactions, Jay shows what it means to be a Father. By just "showing up" he is not perfect, but he is involved, protective and loving. This is especially obvious in the show when his step-son's biological father fails to show up for a visitation.
For me, this show highlights the fact that whether or not a family is "traditional" or "non-traditional" we can all still tell the difference parents can make in a family by being involved and at least "showing-up."