Friday, June 13, 2014

Modern Fatherhood

I said something to my husband last week that I almost immediately regretted. And the more I thought about it, the more stupid the sentiment behind it was.

He was frustrated with the kids, and I was frustrated with the kids and with him. I spouted off, "I don't think you're capable of taking care of both of the kids by yourself." (Is there any wonder where M gets all her attitude?)

Nope, not my finest moment. I apologized, and he graciously accepted. But, the statement made me think about the man I chose to be the father of my children and of our roles as parents. For now, I work inside the home, and my husband works outside the home. What I was taking for granted was that he defers to me on the day-to-day raising of the kids not because he's inept but because he respects me. He knows that I am the one talking to their teachers and scheduling therapy and putting them down for naps. I spend many hours a week alone with the kids, so I do know their always changing patterns and tendencies. But, his deference should never be mistaken for an inability to care for the kids or for his lack of involvement.

After all, he is the person who was much better than I was at changing palm-sized diapers with his pinkies. He was fearless in the NICU with those tiny babies, and that is the man I want my children to emulate.

This week, I've seen so much discussion on TV and online about modern fatherhood and how involved so many dads are. My own father has resented the image of dads on television shows and movies. He was never bumbling, and he was always present in our lives when we were little. He is still a guiding force for his adult children. Because of his example, a deal breaker for me in finding a partner was a man who didn't want children or who wasn't interested in being an equal parent. In a country where men have little to no guaranteed paternity leave, where they are disparaged for staying home with their children, and where changing tables are almost exclusively in female restrooms as if fathers don't change diapers… I should know better than to fall into a stereotype that demeans both my own father and my children's father.

So, I made a promise to myself. I will not say disparaging things about my husband in front of the kids, especially when it comes to his role as their father, because I want them to see parenting as a partnership and to have strong relationships with both of us.

(And as evidence of his capability as a father, my husband, bless him, is putting the kids to bed while I write this post.)

So, as Father's Day approaches, I just want to add my voice to the chorus of people praising involved fathers. Our society often portrays dads as bumbling when in reality so many fathers are excellent parents. And my husband happens to be one of them.

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