Father’s Day is coming up on the 19th and for many families, it’s a time to appreciate one’s father.
Throughout the centuries, I suppose we could boil down a father’s role in the family as the protector and to “bring home the bacon.” Chances are pretty good that they weren’t involved in the bathing, toilet training, feeding, putting a band aid on a cut finger, and all other care activities to get the child on his/her feet. Perhaps from time to time they did some disciplining when things got a little too out of control for the mother, but for the most part, mom was in charge — even when she said, “just wait until your father gets home.”
I remember the first time I heard about a father staying at home with the kids while the wife worked. Several decades ago, my good friend’s son stayed at home and took care of their newborn while his wife, a pediatrician, went back to treating patients. At first, I thought it was a little peculiar since at that time very few men took on the job of homemaker while the wife was the breadwinner. It did raise some eyebrows, especially since the husband ended up taking care of all five of their kids at home.
But over the decades, as women’s roles changed by entering the work force in almost all fields and taking on leadership roles, it was a natural progression that men’s roles would also change. Between 1948 and 2001, the percentage of working-age women employed nearly doubled – from less than 33% to over 60% of all women. The increase in their financial contribution resulted in decreasing the reliance on paternal financial support for many families.
Today’s fathers have taken on roles much different from fathers of previous generations. In addition, what defines and is accepted as a family has also greatly changed. The modern-day father comes in unique forms: he could be single, work or stay-at-home with the kids, or he could be an adoptive parent or a stepparent. What has been dramatically noticeable is that dads today are more demonstrative about showing affection to their children.
How Fatherhood Has Changed
Playfulness: When fathers are home with the kids, they have more play time together. This could entail taking them to the park to throw a ball, going for a bike ride, making a cake, or building a model. The value of spending time together having fun is a key component of building a fulfilling relationship.
Patience: Any father who takes care of his kids needs to learn that the little ones are going to make messes, get in trouble, talk back, and just be real challenging at times. Learning not to get exasperated each time you need to persuade them to clean up their room and take out the garbage, is how one develops patience.
Accessibility: Children now have more opportunities to talk to their fathers more than it was possible in the past, especially on topics that were once considered off-limits.
Encouragement: When a father praises their child when they’ve achieved or accomplished something particularly good, it supports the desire to keep on doing good things.
Showing Emotions: In the past, fathers didn’t often know how (or didn’t want) to show affection to their kids. Some dads were more comfortable doing handshakes with their children. That has changed enormously, and fathers now want to be real and authentic and hug, kiss, and display affection towards their kids.
So, is the modern father better than fathers in the past? Not sure. Today’s fathers have simply developed with the times and are doing the best they can in rearing their families, while accepting a much different role from what was not considered acceptable in the past.
Happy Father’s Day!
Nancy Seiverd, President, CMI Credit Mediators, Inc.