In our “Dad Stories” series, Otter Pass will tell the stories of fathers in various parts of their parenting journeys as we head toward Father’s Day on June 17th. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to find out more about the amazing dads we feature!
Charles Gaines is expecting his first child in June 2018. He and his wife Whitney couldn’t be more excited. But they’re also aware that being parents will be complicated as well as wonderful. After all, in their six years of marriage, they’ve already experienced several extraordinary highs and lows, from Charles’s campaign as a state representative, to the loss of loved ones, to the successful launch of Whitney’s consulting business and Charles’s job as a university governmental relations officer in Austin, Texas.
One thing their life together has already taught them—when their daughter Charlotte arrives this summer, this new chapter will be anything but boring.
There are many things that set Charles off as a prospective father-to-be, but there is one thing in particular Otter Pass noticed when we asked him some questions recently: his relationship with his dad and the men in his family.
In an age where it seems like everyone we know has a complicated relationship with their father, Charles wants to raise his daughter the way his dad raised him. We asked Charles the secret to fatherhood that he learned from his own dad.
A few weeks ago, Charles saw a reflection of himself in the mirror and noticed he was beginning to resemble his father. As he noted, “aside from being a bit surreal, it reminded me how grateful I was for not only him, but for his father, and his and so on and so forth.” This long legacy of men, whom Charles describes as “tremendously loyal and strong-willed,” were not always the the “wealthiest or the most prestigious,” but they valued strong marriages to the women they loved. Charles roots their faithfulness in their shared faith, something that is incredible important to both Charles and Whitney.
The first secret he learned from his dad? Always love your wife. One time, Charles’s mom told him, “I could trust your father in a room full of 100 naked women.” The story has stuck with Charles because of the sincerity behind it (with, we imagine, a little bit of the cringe-worthy factor of hearing your mom say the words 'naked women'). It was funny, but Charles appreciated that his mom never had to worry that his dad was looking at anyone else, ever. To love his wife might feel like a simple thing, but it’s not. It was a foundation that Charles's mom and their kids could depend on. It's the kind of foundation Charles wants for his new baby.
In addition to putting his relationship with Whitney first, the second secret he learned from his dad and other good fathers in his life is to plan for flexibility. Since no one in the world has ever met his daughter, no one knows what will work best for her. Charles’s plan is simple: to be as flexible as reasonably possible. This means that he’ll take parenting recommendations and other ideas from well-intentioned people, research, or case studies, but at the end of the day, he and Whitney will decide what’s best for Charlotte. By staying flexible, Charles and Whitney hope to be ready for whatever comes their way when Charlotte enters their world.
Finally, Charles realizes from his relationship with his own father that a complete picture of a parent—not a stereotype or a one-dimensional view—can help a child grow into a well-rounded person themselves. This one can be hard—letting kids see the flaws and reality of who we are as parents is incredibly difficult, but it can also lead them to a deeper realization of themselves and help them deal with the good and bad of life and growth.
Charles is thrilled to bring this baby girl into the world and excited to see who she will become. By being the best father to Charlotte Kennedy Gaines that he can be, Charles hopes to help his new daughter “fully embrace her leadership, intellect, beauty, and spirituality.”
We think Charles has everything he needs to be a good dad. We’ll be thrilled when he and Whitney finally get to meet little Charlotte, put all of their advice and ideas to the test, and begin the next phase of their lives, full of adventure and love.