EDINA, MN–Jim Gustafson, a 33-year-old Edina sales manager, is winning widespread acclaim for helping to raise his own children.
"He's truly a remarkable father," said next-door neighbor Sandra Nickles, watching Gustafson head off in the family minivan Monday to pick up his two children, Dylan, 4, and Anne Marie, 5, from daycare. "You just don't see too many fathers participating in family activities like that."
In addition to occasionally doing the laundry, Gustafson has earned praise for his willingness to run errands with his wife, walk the dog, and make dinner for the family at least once a month. He even changed Anne Marie's diapers twice when she was a baby.
"Jim is a wonderful husband and father," wife Hannah Gustafson, 31, said. "Sometimes, if I put in a long day at work and come home late, he'll have the dinner table set for me. That means all I have to do is make dinner, clear off the dishes when the meal's done, and put them in the dishwasher."
"He just does a lot of things you don't expect a dad to do," Hannah continued. "Like, when it's time for my weekly housecleaning, he'll happily keep an eye on the kids while I'm vacuuming if I ask. I'm a lucky woman."
Also earning Gustafson plaudits is his willingness to spend quality time with his children.
"On Saturdays, he'll often spend the entire day at home with the kids, sitting on the couch watching TV with them," Hannah said. "Usually, it's ESPN or whatever sports is on. But if he wants to take a nap, he has no problem letting the kids change the channel to Nickelodeon for a while."
Among the many people Gustafson has impressed is Linda Huskey–though not at first.
"I remember the first time Jim came by to pick up Dylan and Anne Marie," said Huskey, owner of Small Fry Daycare. "I thought he was some sort of child abductor. But after checking his ID and calling Hannah at her office for confirmation, we allowed the kids to leave in his care."
"I didn't mean to be paranoid, but this was the first time a man had ever been in the facility," Huskey said. "Even the single dads usually just make whoever they're dating pick up the kids. But now we recognize Jim immediately when he comes in every other month or so. It's wonderful to see a father so somewhat involved in his children's lives."