How are today’s dads meeting their challenges? Traditionally, fathers were breadwinners. When I wrote Fathers, Sons and Lovers, I found that males used to have traditional roles. A man’s life was all about work. And everyone assumed a boy would become a dad.
DADS TODAY – EAGER TO DO A BETTER JOB
Today’s dads aren’t always happy with their own dads. “He never showed his love. He wasn’t really there,” they often say.
Mike said sadly, “It would have been great to get a hug from Dad”. Meanwhile, there are heaps of movies in which men are shown bonding with kids as real, hands-on dads and carers. Think of “Kindergarten Cop” or “Mrs Doubtfire.”
So that’s why we find that today’s dads are determined to take up the role and do it better. Researchers are finding that dads know they’re an essential part of a kid growing up. “Daddy, today this kid said…” Dads realisze they have to listen. And show they care.
New dads are proud to be involved in the process of showering their kid. And splashing around with kids at the local pool. They say proudly “I’m a hands-on dad”. Adam, an expectant father, said “I was excited about the birth of my son. I was anxious about what I had to do but hoped I would enjoy having him. And he’s been so much fun”.
Often fathers aren’t confident with newborn babies, as we can see in movies like Three Men and Baby.
“Hell, what do I DO?”
But breastfeeding is much more successful if fathers attend seminars on how to support breastfeeding wives. The women I asked about this said “Of course I needed my husband’s encouragement! It’s really important!” Dad needs to be involved as soon as possible – from the birth onwards.
WHY IS FATHERING IMPORTANT?
Fathering changes us. Men are told they must be strong, never admit weakness, not be emotional except in sport or the bedroom, be always interested in sex, and be wary of anything soft. But fatherhood takes men into nurturing, previously foreign to them. Men who are connected with partners and children can survive and adapt to all the challenges that life offers. And far better than men alone can.
Men say, “My kids have made me a better man. They tell me about myself and even how I feel!”
Our daughters might say; “Dad? Ha! – I know how to deal with him!” Many a man has been amazed at how fast his daughter’s kisses snare him. Dads love to bond with sons through play, activity and sport.
Fathering also benefits our kids. Fathers explain to their kids about the world. They talk about the world of money, sport and adventure.
When Dad takes an interest in them, kids’ school results are better. Kids involved with a dad are less likely to become a bully. Or a victim of bullies.
Some common words from a dad are, “See if you can do this. Have a go. Try it this way. Come on; you can do it”. A good dad always has his kids’ interests at heart. Girls who achieve have often had a dad who pushed them to succeed. Boys who achieve have often had a dad who encouraged and praised them.
FOUR THINGS TO DO, DAD!
- Support your partner if she’s having trouble breastfeeding. This is your chance to show your understanding.
- See what you can do to help keep the house going. Cook something that’s needed. Mop a floor or two.
- Turn off that damn screen and tune in to your new family. These are precious moments. Take some photos if you like.
- Get some friends around who’ll support you. Your own dad, an older man, anyone. Find some other new dads so you can learn this new challenge as a team.
More fathers are coming to workshops about dads and sons. Parental leave is being expanded, and new dads will take up leave, given proper support at workplaces. An American employer told me that he welcomed Latino workers because they worked hard and were supported by the whole family.
Dads have come a long way since the days when they were distant authority figures. Young dads are showing their determination to outdo their own fathers, by seizing on the role with energy and enthusiasm. You’ve become a dad? Take Rob’s advice and get stuck in!