I often reflect on the ways in which being a Dad in 2015 is different than any other time period of fatherhood. There was a recent article about new survey data on The 21st Century Man in Huffington Post that spent some time on fatherhood. (I won’t get into the screwed up thinking on masculinity and homophobia that was also in the report.) I think about new fatherhood in terms of “What separates us from men that came before us?” I believe there is one underlying theme: we are the first generation with the level of respect for women that we see today.
It’s great for women because there is recognition of them as human beings with equal rights and opportunities as men. Wow. What a concept. Working without a slap on the rear or suffering through dirty jokes at the office is the norm, not the exception. The secretary pool is dead. Women can now lead and win the bread. (Although wage disparity and the glass ceiling is alive and well, and that part about men legislating the female body, blaming rape victims, body shaming… there is a long list of things still not right.)
I’ll stick to the family dynamic. No longer is there a man at home to be followed and feared. Bullies are on the run. The concept of a “man of the house” is over. I still see some posts from conservative Dad groups saying the role of the father is to “lead the family.” Nope. Sorry. Wrong answer. This is now a team effort with co-leadership at the top. A Dad who doesn’t do something as simple as change a diaper is old fashioned—let alone helping Mom by actually spending time with kids instead of the traditional rotation of work, couch, and making unilateral decisions for “his” family. Could you imagine, as a Dad today, saying that it’s not your job to change a diaper? This was the reality not long ago. It is still the reality for many Grandpas today. Dads in 2015 are thankfully held to a higher standard.
This modern fatherhood is great for us men too. We can now experience a richer life. There is so much to say, but let’s start with birth of our children. Even as short as 30 years ago a father couldn’t be in the delivery room. What? Yes, my Dad and Father-in-law were not allowed to be in the room during birth. Are you kidding me? The idea that one, you weren’t allowed, and two, that it was acceptable to these guys is unbelievable. I was there to witness the strength and courage Tinkerbell Mom showed us that day. Right after Boogie was born I held her to my naked chest so we could connect and create a bond that science shows us is good. I think back to the thousands of years of men that didn’t do this or couldn’t due to cultural norms. Some guys want to go back to what life was like and regain the “Man’s position in the family” or other conservative nonsense. Shoot me. I am not getting in that time machine.
What other ways do you have a rich life of being Dad that wasn’t open to generations of men that came before us?