How the Modern Dad Has Responded to the Challenge of Fatherhood

Dads, raise your hand if you’ve ever used the phrase “babysitting the kids” when mom is out day-drinking with her girlfriends on a Saturday?

I firmly stand guilty as charged, and I assume most of you would likely agree. Surely, this is mostly just an exercise in misuse of nomenclature, but can it be more revealing?

Reflecting back on my own childhood

Looking back on my childhood as a kid living in a small town rural community, fatherhood in those times seemed to relate a much different role for dear ole dad. I firmly remember times of weekend golfing, hunting, fishing, etc. The weekend was dad’s opportunity to escape and partake in the pleasures that ease the week’s stress and complications in most notably the great outdoors. I fondly remember life as a child exploring the community, swimming, biking, and partaking in recreational sports, but I also aspired to have the same luxuries as my father when the time came calling. Sure, there was a time when us “kids” were able to join in dad’s weekend festivities, but as I look back at that time, I wonder and reflect on how times have changed.

Now looking at present day

As I move from reflecting back to the present, I ask myself what happened to my aspirations of fitting in 36 holes of liquid laced golf on the weekends? The answer may not be the reality that we men would prefer to face head-on. We are much more than just pinch fill-in babysitters when mom needs a bottomless mimosa brunch with some of her best gals.

Sure, we can look and pinpoint a few of the major causes in the transformation of dad’s role and responsibilities in parenting over the past few decades:

  • Mom’s expanded role in the workplace (stay at home dads even!)
  • Rising cost of living
  • Urbanization
  • Expanded scheduling and time commitments

Times have have changed

I am in no way suggesting that fathers of previous generations shied away from previous attempts to engage and parent their children. I am only suggesting the obvious point that times have and will continue to change, as will the fathers’ responsibility to play an increasingly meaningful role in child care, and dads are required to be present both physically and mentally when engaging with their children.

So, I can seem to see how times may have changed dad’s role over the years. Now, how have we responded to these changing times as fathers? We have had to change our game-plan to being very present and impactful in our roles. How do we accomplish this? In addition to our carnal weekend desires, we are marred with a myriad of distractions: mobile devices, lack of separation from work (again, mobile devices!), household responsibilities, critical need for male companionship, and lack of hours in the day.

Our children want us!

As a father of young ones under the age of 10, I can attest to the pulls both inside and outside the household (especially around New Orleans). Fatherhood can be challenging and a prime contributor to hair-loss. Admittedly, sometimes dads can be stubborn, but with kids, it’s important that we understand that we don’t have all the answers. More importantly, understand that our children most importantly want us. When spending time with the kids, do it! Put the phone down and watch them, play with them. You know the chores are going to be there tomorrow. I hear some really engaging dads are even able to entice the kids to help-out with them (still haven’t exactly figured this one out!). If you take them to the park or playground, make it a point to play with and interact with them while you are there. Because, at the end, it’s really you they want, and it’s really you that needs them.

Sure, we all, both mom and dad included, need and deserve those weekend escapes whether to the bar, course, camp or spa; however, dads are not disconnected family members. In fact, we have embraced and “get’r done” in response to these changing times.

In short, we have learned to “put the phone down” and be present when and where it matters most.

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