Father of the Year Nominee: Jonathan Patino

Jonathan Patino is a dad who takes all of parenting — the good, bad, and everything in between — with open arms, and laughter.

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Jonathan Patino grew up in a spare home in Mexico with his mom and grandmother, never knowing his father. It was a tough first ten years of his life, and something he wants to make sure his kids will never experience. By all signs, they won’t. Patino is a generous, dedicated father to his two kids, David, age 12 and Luke, age 2. He is patient, quick to laugh, and spends all of his free time with them, playing the role of a good dad as well as a good husband.

“He cooks when I can’t because of nausea or morning sickness and he likes to play actions figures and games with the kids,” his wife Sirena Dimas says. “In a world where Latin men are stereotyped as being unfaithful or too machismo to be involved parents, Jonathan defies that every day. No one is perfect, but he comes as close to an ideal partner as anyone could ask for. Our family wouldn’t be the same without him. “

Patino met Sirena Dimas in San Francisco, California more than a decade ago when they began working at the same insurance company. When they started dating, four years later, she had a two-year-old son, David. Patino was characteristically ecstatic. “Falling in love with Sirena meant falling in love with David,” Patino says. “I missed him when he wasn’t around — it was the life he brings around to create more memories with.” And so Patino (officially) became a father to David.

Although it was an easy choice for Patino to become David’s dad, it wasn’t nearly as easy for David. Patino worked hard to gain David’s trust and to instill confidence in the young boy that no one was going to take his mother away from him. After some months, David became less standoffish to Patino. And day by day during hikes and trips to the beach, their relationship flourished: David became less serious, more joyful, sillier, and more imaginative. Having Patino around allowed David to become a kid again.

Sirena tells a story that speaks to what Patino is like as a dad. There is a piece of plastic in his car that constantly rattles — a tiny annoyance that he learned to ignore rather than fix. When David asked about the noise, Patino said it was the sound of a ninja raccoon coming out of the car. The idea tickled David and he brought it up often. Weeks later, there were raccoons trying to get into the family’s trash. Patino pointed them out telling David that they had finally scared the ninja raccoon out of the car, and now it was looking for a new place to hide! The two laughed until their bellies hurt. “Jonathan gave David the rights to his imagination,” says Dimas. “It’s such a gift.”

Four years after taking David in, Patino had his own son with Sirena. Luke, who is now two, gave Patino the opportunity to cement his relationship with David, and he took it. “In our culture when a new baby comes along often the extended family will take the older children for several weeks so that the parents can bond with the baby and adjust at home without having other kids around,” he says. “But Sirena and I wanted David to be involved in every single detail of Luke’s arrival. I never want him to feel like there is a separation between him and his brother.”

David was there for all of it. When Dimas had to undergo a C-section and stay in the hospital for an extra week, David was alongside Patino, his mother, and his new baby brother from 6 a.m. until visiting hours closed at 1 a.m. “I called him my little soldier during all of this because he never once complained and he stood by me and was a part of everything and took on responsibility,” Patino says.

Patina has a lot to juggle, but always makes time for his kids. He and Sirena both work 40-plus hour weeks and he volunteers with at the American Youth Soccer Organization, where he’s a board member, soccer coach, volunteer recruiter, and a referee for the local American Youth Soccer Organization chapter. He regularly spends 10 to 12 hours a week at the field coaching or refereeing. He coaches David’s team, and makes sure David always has someone to play with.

Now, two years after the birth of Luke and with another little one on the way, Patino says that he’s changed just as much on the inside has his family has on the outside.

“I think a lot more about the future now than I ever did,” he says. “I matured in that way. I want my sons to be proud of their parents and that’s a certain pressure and responsibility because I am the example they will follow. It’s an incredible journey.”

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