A few months ago, a book was released that emphasized the important role that dads have. It is possible that the book may have influenced some parents to take a moment and think about the importance of dads and whether society might need to update its idea of what dads can do.
Let me begin by clearly stating that I think that both dads and moms are very important to their children. Each can have a very strong influence. Whether that influence is positive or negative depends largely on the individual choices each parent makes.
A book called Do Fathers Matter? was released in June of 2014. The full title is Do Fathers Matter?: What Science is Telling Us About the Parent We’ve Overlooked. It was written by Paul Raeburn, who has been a science editor and senior writer at Business Week (among other accomplishments). He has five children.
I have not read this book, so I don’t have a personal opinion about it. What seems clear is that this book was intended to encourage people to gain a new perspective on the importance of fathers. From what I can tell from the description of the book at Amazon, it appears that the book includes information from scientific studies. It is possible that the book will bring enlightenment to some, while others will consider it to be “common sense”. Of course, dads (and moms, too) are important!
A few decades ago, it was standard practice that the dads would get a job that supports the family and the moms would stay home, clean house, and raise the children. Our society has changed, in many ways, since that idea was considered to be the way things should always be.
Today, there are stay-at-home dads. There are dads that work from home and take care of their children at the same time. There are parents who have figured out how to split up the household chores and parenting responsibilities in ways that make sense for their current lifestyle. Those decisions no longer are required to fit into pre-defined, gender based, roles.
And yes, there are still some families in which mom stays home with the kids and dad goes to work five days a week. That’s perfectly acceptable if that is what works best for their family. I think the key concept is that it is important that dads are contributing in ways that make life better for their children (and spouses). Moms should be contributing to that goal as well. What that ends up looking like in one family may be different than how it looks in another family.
The concept that dads are important should not be taken as an insult to single moms. Instead, it should be a “wake up call” to two-parent families in which the dad is being allowed to “opt-out” of parenting. Both moms and dads are capable of calming a fussy baby, entertaining a rambunctious toddler, and coaxing conversation out of the surly teenager.
I think it is time to set aside the concept of the “bumbling father” who is incapable of doing household chores or changing diapers. That being said, there are still many public bathrooms that have a changing table in the women’s room but lack one in the men’s. Some do, though, and that is a step in the right direction. It shows that society is starting to recognize that dads are parents, too.
Image by Peter Werkman on Flickr. His website is Peter Werkman Photography.