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United Way Blog

A New Lens on Father’s Day

When Emily was born six years ago, it changed more than my life – it changed my perspective. I suddenly saw things through a new lens: how would (fill in the blank) affect my daughter?

Nothing has made that clearer than the purchase of our first house three months ago. As we celebrate Father’s Day in our new home, I’m reflecting on how fatherhood has changed virtually everything I think, do and say.

It was our first house. Both my wife and I are detail-oriented people. So, the legwork and research took us months. But we were very clear about our priorities.

Because Emily is going into first grade this fall, a good public school was our primary goal. Distance to work came in second. And a sense of community mattered too.

But school mattered most. So we made a spreadsheet of the elementary schools in our target county. Did I mention already that we’re detail people? We looked at reading scores, racial and ethnic diversity, safety reports and access to technology.

We wanted to make sure a healthy percentage of kids were reading above grade level, so Emily wouldn’t be an outlier. We wanted her in a school that was racially and ethnically diverse. Emily is of mixed heritage – her grandparents trace their roots back to India, Iran and Italy. We wanted her in classes with a strong mix of African American, Asian American and Latin American students. And of course, we wanted her to be in a safe school with good tech.

The work proximity issue reinforced one particular aspect of “the Emily lens” in our house-hunting adventure. We could get more bang for our buck farther away, but that would leave less of me for Emily. The earlier I get home, the more quality time we have. And the whole point is quality of life, right?

Most of the priorities in our search could be quantified. Finding a neighborhood that felt comfortable was trickier to pinpoint. When we first looked at the house, my wife and I made it a point to chat with the neighbors on both sides. They were extremely friendly and welcoming, so we knew we’d have good neighbors. Box checked. 

But we learned that the sense of community is strong after we moved in. People are quick to loan chairs, tables, lawn equipment and more through the neighborhood Facebook group. There’s a willingness to welcome new people to the neighborhood. We lucked out on that one.

If you’re in the market for a first home with (or for) kids, check out these tips on buying a house with kids in mind, and a guide from homes.com for house-hunting parents. 

As everyone knows, buying a house is no easy undertaking. At the end of the day, it wasn’t really about the house. We bought *this* house in *this* neighborhood so Emily can grow up in a community where she’ll thrive. After all, she’s the reason I get to celebrate Father’s Day.

Inspired by what you read? Change starts with you. Take action today to make a difference in your community.

GIVEADVOCATEVOLUNTEER