Posted by: Deborah Drezon Carroll | December 23, 2009

What is a dad?

David Goldman, the man who has been fighting to get his son back for five years is in the news today. Five years ago he was blindsided when his wife, whom he thought loved him and their son, went home to Brazil for a vacation with their little boy. Once there, she told him that she wasn’t coming back, was divorcing him and keeping their little boy in Brazil. After that, she remarried a Brazilian lawyer and proceeded to win custody of the little boy, Sean. Last year she died in childbirth and Sean’s stepfather and maternal grandparents refused to allow David to get custody of his son. Now the Brazilian high court has ruled in David’s favor and it’s possible that he may finally be able to take his son home. What a story. I can’t stop thinking about this little boy. I do think he should be with his dad but what an adjustment he will have to make from what is probably the only life he can remember, in Brazil, with family and friends who love him. Don’t get me wrong. I think the Brazilian family is cruel to have kept this boy from his father who obviously loves him deeply. For five years this man fought to get his son back. I have no idea what Goldman does for a living, but I suspect his legal fees have been enormous. His life was put on hold, it seems, as he fought this battle.

We’re used to seeing mothers fight tooth and nail for their kids but when  a dad does, it makes news. I suspect that right now we have moms all over the country fighting custody battles for their children but this story is the one grabbing the headlines. Why? Maybe because it’s international but more likely because it’s a dad who wants his son fiercely. He’s putting everything he’s got out there to get back the one thing that matters most — his little boy.

This shouldn’t be so newsworthy, it seems to me. We ought to see dads who are dedicated to their kids more often. I think the value of a father can’t be overstated. Now that our girls are grown, they have even more need of their dad and I think they’re all grateful to have solid relationships with Ned.

When they were little, they went to Dad for comfort and understanding and help. They still do. Nowadays they come to Dad when they want advice about their classrooms. They talk for hours about the kids they teach and the situations they encounter. They come to Dad for financial advice. They come to Dad for home repair advice. It’s not always easy. They know Dad’s advice isn’t always judgment-free. But they know the advice comes from someone who loves them and would give up everything in his life to go to Brazil and bring them home.

How did Ned develop this relationship with our girls? He was present and engaged. He got up with them in the morning and before he went to work, he got them breakfast sometimes or helped them get dressed or just talked. He even made a little story book for Alexis about their “Daddy and daughter” morning. “What color is your brown shirt, Daddy?” Alexis asked one morning as they got ready together. “What color is your brown shirt?” The question still makes me laugh. Obviously, she knew the color. She just wanted to talk to her daddy and knew that if she asked a question, he would answer. She knew that she could keep talking to Daddy if she kept asking questions. And, to this day, that’s still true.

I hope more young fathers look at David Goldman for an example of what a dad is, or should be. A dad is someone who should love you as much as your mother does and fight for you just the same. Men and women are wired differently, it’s true. But when it comes to how much we love our kids, fathers and mothers should be the same.

Alexis will be living in Tinton Falls, like David Goldman. If she runs into him in the supermarket, I hope she tells him that he is a dad much like hers and that’s just as it should be.



  1. This is wonderful. I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes and a grin on my face because I know what an amazing family you and Ned have raised. I think it’s a great idea, you’re an entertaining, interesting writer and the subject matter is one that is important to so many of us.

  2. Someone we’re not related to is reading this? Maybe we should stop using it as a Carroll Family Facebook wall.

    P.S. Dad and I are installing a tub together this weekend. Go Home Depot!

  3. Great message! I have had a burden on my heart for fathers to become the warriors they were created to be. We fathers need to take our place and quit passing our responsibility on to whoever will take it. It appears Ned, like Mr. Goldman, is a great example of the Warrior Father.


  4. Thanks. We totally agree. Of course, this is not to say that single parents can’t succeed or that every child must have both a father and a mother to grow up happy. Loving and caring parents are the key.

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