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A Father’s Day Reflection

I want to wish a happy Father’s Day to all our Associates, lay partners, and supporters who were blessed with the vocation of fatherhood! I also offer a prayer of thanksgiving for all those moms who do double duty as a single parent. My dad died when I was thirteen and I know it was not easy for my mom to manage three teenage sons while processing her own grief.

Blog by Director of Founded Minstries and Dominican Associate Mark Butler

I became a dad almost twenty-nine years ago. At the time, Susan and I were living in Berea, Kentucky. Our daughter Anna was born four months after we had graduated from college. For that first year, Susan worked during the days as a weaver, and I worked evenings and weekends at our local church. This means that I was the stay-at-home parent.

That year was the happiest of my life. Anna and I spent hours in the local library, visiting museums and galleries, and feeding popcorn to the very spoiled squirrels that lived on Berea’s campus. Unfortunately, I encountered people who wanted to call me “Mr. Mom” or said that it was nice that I was “babysitting.” I remember one pediatrician ending an appointment by insisting that mom would be bringing the baby next time.

It is a sad reality that moms are forced to shoulder the responsibility of parenting and that there are still “deadbeat dads” out there, but there are good dads out there who are actively parenting and co-parenting too. Unfortunately, institutions continue to operate within a paradigm that expects moms to shoulder the responsibility of parenting. This has a negative impact on the entire family, reinforces stereotypes, and can empower weaponized incompetence.

Over the last 10 years I have had the opportunity to meet with fathers of children with developmental disabilities. Most found me online after an internet search provided stories about Andrew and Katie. They are looking for support or just someone to talk to who has a lived experience that matches theirs.

I have heard story after story of school districts, doctors, and caseworkers excluding fathers from correspondence and meetings. These were men who were actively parenting, most still married to their children’s mother, who wanted to be strong partners. They needed support and empowerment. What they received was the notion that it was mom’s job to understand and deal with everything.

This is why this second half of June is a time to not only promote responsible fatherhood but to support initiatives that empower dads to actively parent and co-parent. In my family, we describe this process as “Team Butler” where we work together and utilize each other’s skills to reach our parenting goals.

I am proud to be a part of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities’ “Bringing Fathers Forward” initiative. You can read up on it here:

Anna is getting married the day after Father’s Day, another happy memory to join with those of carrying a baby through our small town.

Whether you’re a dad, visiting your own father, or remembering a dad who’s no longer with us, I wish you a day filled with happiness and peace this Father’s Day.

6 thoughts on “A Father’s Day Reflection

  1. Mark, that was a wonderful blog. Yes, you at right that there are many good Dads are out there. You are also right, I believe, that our institutions must change. You are a great Dad. Thanks.🌹

  2. Thank you, Mark, for an insightful and needed reflection.=


    Carol Ann Spencer

  3. Thank you. A needed, helpful and heartfelt reflection. Peace and all good, Sister Yvonne Horning

  4. Mark,
    Kudos for this wonderful reflection. I would concur that there are many men who take on the parenting responsibilities in a spirit of love while also being a strong support for the entire family

  5. What a blessed Husband, Father, Dad, you are Mark and thank you for your personal sharing. Thank you for all the ministry you give to our Dominican Family. Happy Father’s Day. God bless your family daily.

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