We all know that every gang of ladies has a “mom friend” to pass out snacks during long car rides, provide a shoulder to cry on and babysit the drunks. The mom is easy to identify and likely takes pride in her maternal role, but what about her paternal counterpart? If every group of girls has a mom, it follows suit that some may also have a “dad” — though single mothers can definitely rock it too.
Wondering who your own “dad friend” might be, or even if it could be you? These characteristics will help you to identify and appreciate the father figure in your own posse.
1. Would you rather jam out to Bruce Springsteen than Kendrick Lamar?
Your “dad friend” is probably not up to date with the latest tunes. She won’t know Kendrick Lamar from Chance the Rapper or Little Mix from Fifth Harmony. Next time you’re in the car or at a party, pay close attention to how your friends interact with the music. When everyone is singing along to the latest hits, does one of them look lost, confused, and not entertained? Can she only participate vaguely during the chorus of the song of the summer? These are likely signs that your girl doesn’t know her Top 40.
To really test the scope of her musical awareness, try subjecting her to some “Dad Rock.” Is she more than a little hyped for “Hotel California”? When she hears Springsteen, does she ask you to turn up the volume? We all know “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but can she sing the full guitar solo, too?
Your dad friend’s music taste may be a little old school, but that just means she is comfortable dancing to the beat of her own drum. Just kidding—she definitely cannot dance.
2. Drives a “Dad Car”
Mom friends are known for their minivans, but dad friends tend to drive hefty vehicles as well. Almost certainly fuel inefficient, the dad car of your squad’s fleet may not be fit for lengthy road trips, but when one of your girls needs furniture moved to her new place, who do you call? Your dad friend. Unlike the mom friend’s minivan, the dad car is perfect not only for carting the whole crew to sporting events, but for hauling big loads, too. From mattresses to kitchen tables, it was made to carry anything, so who cares if it’s not the most stylish set of wheels? Bonus points if “dad” helps you carry your furniture up the stairs, too!
3. Prefers Classic Dad Activities
Squad is going to the mall—she asks if she can make a quick stop at Bass Pro Shops. You invite her along for a manicure—she says, “I can’t. I need to mow the lawn.” She offers to grill up some barbecue in place of Sunday brunch. It’s karaoke night, but not until she finishes the big game. Time and time again, the dad friend will choose the classic activities of fatherhood whenever she’s given the chance. You love her anyway, though, because who else could you turn to when you just want to toss a ball back and forth in the backyard?
In all seriousness, the dad friend’s hobbies and interests—even if they’re not as stereotypical as what I describe above— may not align with what the rest of the group likes to do, but they’re important to her. So spend a wholesome afternoon doing like your dad friend does. If nothing else, it’ll make for some quality “father-daughter bonding.”
Like any father worth his tie collection, your dad friend can completely mortify you without even trying. She tries to strike up a conversation with the couple in front of you in line at Adventure Land, even though they’re clearly not interested. Everyone noticed the waitresses unfortunate tattoo, but she curiously comments on it. When she sees someone wearing an “Ask Me About My…” t-shirt at Hy-Vee, she always has to ask. Without fail, your dad friend will leave you and your ladies red-faced and uncomfortable.
A lot of this boils down to general cluelessness. “Dad” always means well, but sometimes she just doesn’t realize how awkward she comes across. Instead of feeling embarrassed, try to appreciate her boldness. The same confidence that has her screaming your name across the Pentacrest can be invaluable in other situations. After all, who else is going to show up on the doorstep of the boy who broke your heart to give him “a piece of her mind?”
5. Emotionally Unavailable
It’s not that the dad friend doesn’t care about your feelings, it’s just that she isn’t equipped to handle them. Why? She can’t even deal with her own! Though you may sometimes feel like you can’t go to her with your problems, keep in mind that, like any supportive father, your dad friend just wants to help— and can do so in her own unique, but comforting way.
My own dad friend, the ever-paternal Zoey Slettehaugh, says that when her girls come to her on the brink of a life-crisis, she likes to suggest alternative activities to breaking down. “A trip to the park to swing or a quality game of catch would definitely be a good idea to get you feeling better quick.”
If you need a hug and some sound advice, go to mom, but once you realize that your dad friend offers her own kind of valuable support, you might want to give her methods a try. I, for one, can attest that the swings at College Green are indeed a great mood-booster.
6. Scrutinizes Your Men
In the absence of your real father, someone needs to make sure the boys you meet are up to par. Instead of pulling out a gun and asking about their intentions, she’ll probably take a subtler approach. Maybe she’ll do some light “Insta stalking,” or get the scoop from a mutual friend. Either way, if she doesn’t like him, she’ll be sure to let you know. Trust her fatherly instinct. She just wants what’s best for you.
7. A Partner to Mom
Co-parenting is an essential part of modern fatherhood. Your dad friend and your mom friend work together to make sure all the kids are doing well. While “mom” comforts one friend after a bad breakup, “dad” takes the rest outside to give them their space. When “dad” suggests a lively game of tackle football, “mom” is all in, but makes sure to grab her first-aid kit on her way out the door. They play different roles, but their separate parenting efforts complement each other perfectly.
If you meet all or most of these criteria then congratulations, you’re a father! If not,I’m sure you can pinpoint one of your friends who is. Dad friends play an important role, so make sure to thank yours for all she does.
Anyone can be a father, but it takes a special woman to be a dad.