Redefining daddy duties

By: Tiffany Esshaki, | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published June 14, 2017

METRO DETROIT — Telephones aren’t the only things that’ve changed since the nuclear age. Traditional family roles have evolved too, and that’s good news for dad.

More and more, the role of father is going well past provider into the realm of friend, nurturer, cheerleader and even hairstylist. The “manly” limitations that fathers adhered to in years past are long gone, according to Birmingham resident and PTA dad Rez Sazgari.

“This isn’t the 1950s. Dads, at least the ones I know, are very deeply involved in their children’s lives and education,” he said. “I, for one, work from home, and one of the reasons I wanted to do that is because I want to see my children and wife every single day.”

 Michael Fishman, of Birmingham, braids daughter Dylan’s hair during last year’s Daddies, Daughters and Dos hair tutorial.

Michael Fishman, of Birmingham, braids daughter Dylan’s hair during last year’s Daddies, Daughters and Dos hair tutorial.

File photo by Donna Dalziel

Planning school dances isn’t often thought of as a task in the hands of the dads, but Sazgari considers it something of a hidden talent now after so many years of doing the job. He’s been a member of the Greenfield Elementary School Proud Dads Club since it was founded seven years ago. It started as a group of fathers looking to host a daddy-daughter dance to benefit the PTA, but it quickly grew into a dynamic cohort of parents who host a number of events throughout the year for their students.

“We now do a son-and-special-guest dance and a daughter-and-special-guest dance. We do breakfasts with a parent, scoop ice cream at various social events,” he explained. “I’ve kind of become the unofficial photographer for all of these events.”

Sazgari’s oldest is about to enter high school, and his youngest is finishing up his last days at Greenfield. Sazgari hopes to bring the same enthusiasm to his students’ new schools that he brought to their elementary days. 

“What I’m interested in is creating opportunities for the kids where they can have fun and be involved with other children and parents,” he said. “I don’t want to say that my kids take this for granted, but I want me being around and being active in their lives to be their normal. When I became a dad, it changed my life in an instant. I wanted to be as involved with my family and my kids. Having dads involved is equally important as having moms involved, because we have a lot to offer too.”

And yes, what dads have to offer can even include a before-school french braiding session. George Nikollaj, co-owner of 6 Salon in Royal Oak and Birmingham, hosted the first Daddies, Daughters and Dos last year. It was a sold-out event, and the second annual father-daughter tutorial was just as popular this past Sunday, when dads brought their little girls to the salon to learn the basics of hair styling. 

“I don’t think it’s that dads aren’t willing to do their daughter’s hair — it’s just that we’re not willing if we don’t know how to do it. I just think they need some direction, and once they’ve got that, I think dads are really interested, because it’s another fun thing that they can do that’s just for the two of them,” Nikollaj said.

The annual hands-on workshop, which for the past two years has raised money to support the charity the Bottomless Toy Chest, pairs fathers and their girls with a professional hair stylist to learn about brushing and braiding, and even the best brushes and products for the job — because as dad will be the first to tell you, every good workshop needs the proper tools. 

“So often a guy looks at a comb and says, ‘If it’s good for my hair, it’s good for her hair,’” explained Nikollaj. “Once they learn this simple stuff, it all goes back to being able to spend a little more time with your daughter. And a good relationship with your little girl is nothing short of amazing.”