The Changing Roles of Dads – Make It About More Than Time



As we approached this Father's Day, I noticed a number of articles and television segments about the changing role that men are playing in their families.  People have noted that many fathers are spending more time sharing activities that used to be considered a woman’s role.  They are sharing household chores, shopping duties and spending more time with their children. 

As more and more women entered the workforce, it was bound to happen.  I know that personally, I could not have the busy career (actually more than one career) that I have if my husband didn’t see our marriage as a 50/50 partnership.  We do what the recent articles have said.   The obligations to our home and family are not based on gender.  They are based on time.  Whoever is available does it.  The role of men in family life should, however, be about more than just how chores, carpools and grocery purchases are accomplished.  It needs to be about being an example of walking through all of life – the good and the bad - with integrity and dignity.  Now that dads seem to be with their children for more hours, they need to consider how they model being human with all the flaws and emotions that come with it.
 
My favorite picture with my Dad..
I grew up in a very traditional family.  My father worked and my mother did not.  Dinner was always timed so that we would eat together upon my father’s return from work in the evening.  We talked about our day during dinner.  We watched TV together in the evening.  We looked forward to fun family vacations.  I saw my father laugh a lot.  I rarely saw him cry.  I think the first time I saw him cry was as an adult and it was jarring.  I know that, like all of us, my parents sometimes struggled.  My dad was always strong and he always smiled through it.  I don’t know how he felt in times of stress.  I don’t know what he told himself or how he coped.  He was a typical father of his generation.  He spent more time with us than in the generation before.  He was interested in our lives in a way that previous generations of dads were not.  He still was a part of the “men don’t cry” mentality.

As I sift through the articles about men today, I hope they realize that they can cry. They can be sad, worried and frustrated.  They can make mistakes and say they are sorry.  They can show their children how to deal with both happy and sad times by showing coping skills rather than a brave front.  They are finally free to be themselves – flaws and all.  Fathers today have the good fortune of being able to connect with their children on a whole new level.  They can model acceptance, tolerance, humanness, patience, gratitude, sadness, joy and grief.   They can be the person their children go to when they need emotional support.  What a wonderful era to be a father!

                                                                         



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