Jimmy Hicks helps daughter Jalynn with the alphabet while his wife, Molly, and Jimmy IV read.
Jimmy Hicks, 32, is the New American Dad. The father of twins who will be 4 on the Fourth of July, he's likely to ask co-workers if they have extra coupons for diapers, and to be planning dinner as he drives home from work.
“When the kids are sick, I'll take a half-day off and my wife will take off the other half-day,” said Mr. Hicks, a salesman. “We split the cooking. We give baths. I get one kid dressed in the morning. I drop them off at school and she picks them up. It's like, no job titles.”
It's different from the Detroit home in which he was raised: his father brought home the bacon and his mother managed the household, setting dinner on the table daily at 5 p.m.
Mr. Hicks prefers the contemporary dynamic. It gives his daughter a sense that she will be able to do what she wants in life. “And it makes the father be more a part of the day-to-day family,” he said.
He has also married into diversity. His social-worker wife, Molly, was born in Vietnam to an African-American soldier and a Vietnamese woman. Molly came to the United States as a toddler along with thousands of other Vietnamese-American children, and was adopted by a Caucasian family who raised four children of various colors.
Jimmy and Molly wanted a big wedding, but to be practical they chose a small ceremony because the twins were already on the way. They celebrated with a backyard party at his in-laws' house.
“I'm a happy, jocular person. I'm always laughing because we never know when it's going to end,” he said.
He appreciates the solid examples provided by his parents, married for 37 years, and his in-laws, married for 35.
His father, a business owner and salesman, taught him to work hard and save money, that life isn't fair, to respect women, and to set goals. “He'd put a picture of a car he wanted on the refrigerator and then work to get it.”
Mr. Hicks, who previously taught junior-high algebra for five years in Dayton, expects fatherhood to be more challenging when demure Jalynn and energetic Jimmy become more independent and embrace the power of “No!” He likes being their friend, but doesn't care much for conflict.
He looks forward to coaching their teams for years to come. Already, their immaculate West Toledo home has big and little basketball hoops in the yard, in addition to swings and slides.
“I think being a dad is kind of like being a coach,” said the former Central State University football player. “You give them a lot of foundation and hope they can put it to the right things in life.”