Donning real Dad pants


Dad in his knickers

Apparently a plague is abundant across this great nation of ours and there is a movement to rid ourselves of this curse once and for all.

I’m talking about Dad pants. You’ve no doubt heard of Mom jeans, those kind of jeans that no one but a mother (and a very unfashionable one at that) would wear. I may or may not confirm that there might be several pairs of those hanging in my closet.

But now we have to worry about Dad pants too.  I recently watched a tongue-in-cheek ‘public service announcement’ which at first made me chuckle but then caused me to contemplate. Cleverly disguised as a PSA, it really was an advertisement for Dockers® pants. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can check it out by clicking here.

Now, I’m not hyping those particular pants nor am I getting paid to mention them here in my blog, but Dockers®, if you’d like to send a few dollars along to me, I won’t refuse.  I won’t deny that there are a couple of pants branded with that name hanging in Papa’s closet here in the empty nest. But my intention isn’t to get you to run out and buy those pants in order to jump onto the #Stop Dad Pants band wagon.

I’m just simply using their slick advertising gimmick as writing fodder. Viewing this commercial around Father’s Day (another marketing savvy point), reminded me of the three men in my life who have worn Dad pants.

When my father-in-law and my own father were young boys, they were short pants called knickers. If that sounds strange to you, consider that my father-in-law was born before the turn of the century – not this one – in the late 1890’s. Yes, you read that correctly. And my own father was born prior to 1920. Back then, those short pants were worn by boys until they reached around the age of 12 or so. They then graduated into long pants. This kind of signified a rite of passage – moving from childhood into manhood.

It might seem silly to us today, but it’s part of our history and was the cultural norm back then.  So why am I writing about pants, short or long?  Here’s my point:  any male can don a pair of pants and call himself a man. Just as any man can impregnate a woman and call himself a father. It happens thousands of times every day.

But it takes a special man to wear Dad pants.  Wearing Dad pants means a man loves his wife and children beyond measure. He’s willing to labor tirelessly to provide for their needs and well-being. But a real Dad provides more than just monetary or physical support. He guides his children using a balanced degree of love and discipline to teach them right from wrong. He proves that even though his work is essential and it provides support for his family, the importance of spending time with them and demonstrating  his love and care are a priority.

To me, wearing Dad pants signifies that a man puts away his childish and selfish acts, truly becomes a man,  and sacrifices for the good of his family. He becomes an example of integrity for his children. He leads them with faith and wisdom as building blocks, guides them with morals and character, and helps prepare them for the days to come. He encourages his children to have courage to strive for their goals and be successful, yet reminds them that the love of God and family are what’s most important in life.  And he leaves a legacy for his children to pass onto their children.

I’m very thankful that I have had three such examples in my life – my own father, my father-in-law, and my husband – the father of my three children. All three of them wore their Dad pants well.  Those pants may actually have been wrinkled and slouchy like the pants in the commercial, but these three men clothed themselves with responsibility, wisdom, and love for their families. All three of them proved to be a good example to follow, a well-loved and well-respected father.

It saddens me that not all of us are blessed with a father who has his Dad pants on.  Some men never accept the responsibility of being a father, and their children suffer because of that.  Some lose their fathers when they’re young and they suffer too.  That’s what happened to my own dad.  His father died when my dad was just a baby, but that didn’t prevent Dad from becoming an exemplary father himself.  Instead he stove to be the best dad he could be and he was.

My father and father-in-law are both gone now, but every Father’s Day I remember them with thankfulness for the wonderful fathers they proved to be. And I watch in gratitude how my children show their love and respect for their own dad.

This Father’s Day, Papa was treated to both a delicious Sunday lunch at a new Mexican restaurant and a home-cooked dinner when we traveled to visit middle daughter and son-in-law, but the real gift was that our adult children wanted to spend time with him – with Dad.  That made him happy and I witnessed  his smile each time his cell phone rang with more greetings of “Happy Father’s Day, Dad!” and expressions of love and gratefulness from the ones who couldn’t be there.

I hope my son and sons-in-law someday decide to don their own Dad pants, and when they do, I pray they fill them wisely and become real fathers.  From all indications, they’ll rise to the challenge even if their pants are wrinkly.

“It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.” ~ Pope John XXIII



6 responses

  1. Excellent post! I have (and may have posted it on my blog at some point) a picture of my dad, taken when he was probably about 3 years old (C. 1902) in knickers and button-up shoes!


  2. ‘Knickers’ is actually a ‘shortform’ for knickerbockers – pants (or ‘breeches’ as they were sometimes called) that ended just below the knee; they were worn during the winter in the U.S. and Canada after WW1. I’ve got a few photos of my Dad (he was born in 1915) wearing them, as well as ‘short pants’ in the summer. When Dad was 14 he got a job as a caddy at the Jasper Park Lodge, where he (as well as the golfers) wore ‘plus fours’ – ‘knickers’ that extended 4″ below the knee. I always thought he looked quite dashing in them (he caddied for 4 summers). Your photo and post brought back some good memories.


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