Being a dad is the greatest experience of my life. Just as with my wife, my kids enhance (almost) everything I do, from going for walks, to spontaneous day trips (to a park/museum/grandma’s house), to using finger paints,… things are just better with kids. To be sure, things are “different,” and they can bring along some challenges (free time anyone?), but I wouldn’t change a thing.
And on my fourth Father’s Day, I am very thankful for the gift/opportunity/responsibility to have my children. That said, I’m still wrestling with my Father’s Day “gift” being either a day out with my buddies or a special day with the family (the latter is sure to win).
I enjoy the fun times exploring the newness of the world with them and appreciate how quickly they absorb and learn new things. I enjoy the creative “rules” of their games, the impromptu songs/rhyming games and the never-ending supply of energy, or simply sharing a good book.
I also catch myself enjoying the “stressful” times. You know, those times after a bath, when it’s time for bed, and they run around the house wearing only their towel capes… laughing so hard they have to slowdown. Or when they wake up in the middle of the night, and try to convince me it is morning and time to wake up for the day.
It’s great to see more parents (both moms and dads) actively participating in raising children in our modern times. The thing is, as I continue to learn about parenting from experience, classes and books, I can’t help but observe society’s ignorance of dads as part of this parenting equation. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not “bitter,” I just can’t help but notice. It’s common to read anecdotes about dads being subpar/comical parents, think the first half of Mr. Mom (the movie), e.g., baths are optional, chili for kids’ breakfast, can’t find the laundry detergent.
The stats will certainly indicate that moms are more likely to be the primary caregiver, the most likely to pause their career, most likely to be a single parent, but these stats are changing. Changes are due to additional parents choosing to be more co-involved in their children’s critical early years and more dads taking on the stay-at-home role (e.g., Charlie, our colleague at Patch).
We also have more single dads raising children. In The New York Times' Motherlode section on June 2 Ms. Belkin covered a story in this regard, “The number of single-father families in the United States has jumped 27 percent in the past decade. Since 1990, it has nearly doubled — to 2.79 million from 1.5 million.” That works out to only 15 percent of all single parents, but families are certainly changing.
Being a parent is a huge responsibility, and each parent needs to be appreciated for what they do, ignoring historical stereotypes. “Mom” and “dad” roles of the past have changed and will continue to evolve, and I look forward to any changes that lead to happier, better adjusted children and parents.
My simple solution when reading about parenting is to replace “mother” with “parent” in the text and I’m happy.
Happy Father’s Day.
(Editor's Note: The opinions in this article are those of Parents “R” Talking. The opinions are not medical advice. Always consult your pediatrician about any changes you are contemplating.)