By April Spray Newton Special to Published Jun 16, 2013 at 9:34 AM Photography:

In honor of Father’s Day, it seems right to sing the praises of the men who step up and step in for their children.

Great fathers aren’t just men who get the bills paid and remember to lock the doors every night. They aren’t just men who show up to basketball games and band performances.

Great fathers are men who do more for their children than can ever be measured or cataloged. My father made sure I knew that I could make my own way in the world and that I never had to rely on anyone else to define me.

It might have taken a long time for me to get the message but it wasn’t for my father’s lack of trying. You can’t tick that lesson off on a checklist but it’s probably one of the most important things he could have ever done for me as a girl and eventually, a woman.

Great fathers teach their sons how to treat the women in their lives with dignity and love. My father-in-law is deeply in love with my mother-in-law and everyone can tell, even after more than 40 years of marriage. He isn’t showing it by screaming in the streets like some Baltimore-based Stanley Kowalski.

He does it by supporting her intellect and her career, her motherhood and her extended family, and both their individual and combined interests. His life is bound to hers and we can see they are both better for it.

Great fathers know that nurturing and affection are masculine skills. My sons have known their father’s hugs and kisses every day of their lives. My husband has drawn more crayon airplanes than anyone should have to, he has built more towers out of more blocks than I ever thought possible, and he has put in his time at the doctor’s office and parent-teacher conferences. He changes diapers, brushes teeth and cooks favorite breakfasts as part of the routine, not the holiday exception.

My husband is his children’s hero, their Superman. They have special inside jokes with him, he designates the much-coveted role of "in charge" each day, and he has taught them that loving their Mommy is one of their most important jobs.

I know that someday when our boys have children of their own, because of the sterling examples they have in their lives, our boys will know just what kind of fathers they should be and they will be absolutely right.

April Spray Newton Special to

April Spray Newton is a Milwaukee transplant, having set down roots here almost six years ago. She's an instructor at Marquette University, a freelance writer, a mother, a wife and lots of other things. In the Newton household, we all want to be President someday, or maybe an artist, or maybe a chef, or maybe an astronaut, or maybe a pop star, or maybe ....

Because April hails from the Midwest, Milwaukee has seemed deeply familiar at times but also revolutionary. To April, the friendly attitudes, do-it-yourself-iness, and love of the outdoors are recognizable and welcome. Milwaukeeans' accepting approach of so many kinds of people, devotion to education, passion for the arts and interest in creating a true sense of community is surprising but also very welcome.

April has worked in TV news and still freelances in print. Her stories have appeared in several local publications.