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Hats Off to Dad! He’s Working Hard To “Do It All” Too

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Much has been written about the fact that mothers have a lot on their plates and struggle with the concept of “doing it all.” Not enough attention has been paid to the modern father who is struggling to do the same.

In a November 2014 New York Times Opinion piece titled “Our Mommy Problem,” author Heather Havrilesky writes, “We smugly shake our heads at the backward attitudes of “Mad Men,” but at this particular moment in our history, some combination of overzealous parenting, savvy marketing and glorification of hearth and home have coaxed the public into viewing female parents as a strange breed apart from regular people. You might feel like the same person deep inside, but what the world apparently sees is a woman lugging around a giant umbilical cord.” Whether it is Mommy & Me classes or our current fixation on celebrity pregnancies, being a Mommy is “in” …big time. Where does this leave Dad?

Less has been made of it, but Dads have undergone a transition in the last few decades too. In addition to the pressure many have traditionally felt to provide for their families, they are heeding new demands to be present in their children’s lives, to nurture their children, to cook, to volunteer at school, and to share housework. Perhaps this is the reason that there are more stay at home fathers today than ever before. According to a 2014 Pew study, “The number of fathers who do not work outside the home has risen markedly in recent years, up to 2 million in 2012… High unemployment rates around the time of the Great Recession contributed to the recent increases, but the biggest contributor to long-term growth in these “stay-at-home fathers” is the rising number of fathers who are at home primarily to care for their family.” In other words, dads aren’t home because they are out of work, but because they are the primary caregivers in their households. They are where they feel they are best suited for the needs of their families. Those who are working outside the home have a lot more that is expected of them on the home front than they used to and are ensuring that the “Mad Men” image of husbands who never change diapers, drive carpool, or cook dinner is one that will seem more and more unimaginable for our children and our children’s children.

With Father’s Day upon us, it is time to shine some light on the evolving dad and acknowledge the progress he has made– to celebrate the increasingly central person he has become in our lives in ways his father and grandfather weren’t. Additionally, today’s dad has made this progress without a lot of fanfare. Fatherhood may be having somewhat of a Renaissance too, but it is not the glorified and publicized one that motherhood is experiencing.

While dear old dad may not be perfect, it is important to remember that he is also struggling with a life-work balance that so many talk about in the context of motherhood. Dad is learning some new tricks too and working harder than ever to have and do it all.

June 10, 2015

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