Father of girls is outnumbered!

The Purcell family when the girls were younger (from left): Danika, Keith, Katrina and Teodora. (courtesy of the Purcell family)

Father of girls is outnumbered!

As a father of two girls, Keith Purcell is the lone male at his home and he’s quite happy about that fact.

While he admits he never thought he would be the father of two daughters, after having one girl he wanted another. He said he felt he knew what to expect from a little daughter at the time, and his household already had girl toys and girl clothes.

“I was thrilled when I found out we were having another,” he said. “I feel a little outnumbered sometimes but, at the same time, girls love their daddies and it's really an honor to be a parent.”

Keith and his wife Teodora are the parents of Danika, who is going to be a seventh-grader at Marshall Middle School, and Katrina, who is going into the fourth grade at Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary School.

Keith said that after many years of being single, he met Teodora and the couple married when he was about 36. The two decided to have children as soon as possible.

Danika Purcell (back row, second from left) plays on a basketball team coached by her father, Keith. (courtesy of the Purcell family)

“We were married and about 10 months later my first daughter, Danika, was born and I was really thrilled,” he explained. “I always wanted to be a parent. It felt right.”

Keith said he wasn’t sure if he was prepared for fatherhood, but he soon learned.

“You kind of take it in stride just because there’s nothing that can prepare you for it,” he said. “You think you kind of know what it's about from hearing stories from your friends,” he said. “For us, the moment of reality came when they load the baby in the seat carrier and you get it in your car and you've got a crib set up at home and all that, but you walk in the front door and you close it behind you and it's just the three of you. You look at your wife and she looks at you and you kind of realize we really don't know what to expect or what we're doing.”

He said the doctors provided some sound advice that helped them as new parents, and that males have their own kind of instincts when dealing with a newborn.

“That first day, I think, was the biggest shock, but you adapt. You roll with the punches and we both knew we were competent adults,” Keith said. “You know you’re going to make some mistakes but the doctors told us some things that really helped. One of them was, 'trust your instincts.' They said dads have instincts, too. A lot of people think it's all the mom and they're going to know what to do naturally. Well, moms might have better maternal instincts, but some of the fatherly instincts are really strong and to be trusted, too. So, we always really worked as a team.”

Keith believes the biggest and most important lesson he hopes to teach each of his daughters is the ability to stand on their own two feet.

“Our jobs, as parents, whether as a father or mother, is to teach our children to be self-reliant: Don’t rely on your friends, your parents, the government, your kids. Be self-reliant,” he said. “It’s okay to need help and okay to ask for help, but go out in the world strong and confident so that if you get knocked down you have the ability to get yourself back up again and try something else and move forward.”

Keith said that while having children is a huge responsibility, being a parent is such an incredible experience that he wouldn't trade it for anything.

“If it had been 10 years earlier I don't know if I would have been mature enough,” he said. “But I embrace it and I love it and it's my reason for being.”

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