Practical Parenting: What a difference a hands-on daddy makes
By Donovan Grant
Today’s dad is a really hands-on guy. This doesn’t mean that dad will take his turn of pushing the baby buggy down the road, cooking for the family or dropping the children off to school. Today’s dad is also ‘stepping up to the parenting plate’ and helping out where it really matters, the emotional health of the family.
There is a noticeable thing about fathers today in that they are caring, closer and really connected with their children. Have you noticed that dads seem to have more time than fathers use to have with their families? And they are making it count too.
Just yesterday afternoon a colleague and I were in a meeting and towards the end I noticed he kept checking his watch. It was okay at first but then he kept doing it so it was bugging me, I had to ask “hey, Pete what’s up mate, are you on a promise or something?”
He responded with a huge smile on his face “it’s Tuesday and it’s my day to pick up Carina from nursery and look after her for the evening.”
You know something…It’s not what Pete said that mattered, it was the way he said it. He was definitely what I’d call today’s dad alright and there was going to be no stopping him from leaving the office at 4:30 on the dot. Parenting for dads is changing for sure.
Oh and what about Charlie… can you imagine being in a meeting with a bunch of senior managers and then someone’s mobile phone starts ringing and the ring tone is the sweet voice of a four year old girl giggling “come on daddy, let’s play on swings again!” The whole room was in stitches of laughter and you know what, Charlie had the proudest look on his face that a dad can have “that’s my daughter; I’ll just switch the phone to silent.”
No one can tell you that today’s dad doesn’t care.
It was different for most people who were born before the mid-1980’s because dad was still seen as the person who went to work for the family. He got up early, before the children were awake, laboured hard and returned home just in time to read a story to the children before bedtime if he was lucky. As much as he loved the kids, his staring role was to keep a roof over the family heads, food on the table and keep them safe. There was precious little time for emotions, care and connection.
Does this rekindle any memories for you?
Society had a firm grip on what dad should and should not do, so he just went with the flow. He was kind of a ‘arms length’ dad and stressed out. Now this may have been different in some cultures of course; but the consensus indicates that yesterday’s dad had a deep down yearning to be closer to his children.
Did your dad show his true emotions to the children? Was dad just longing to show his gentler side and get closer to his children?
Perhaps yes in many cases. But his hands were tied. You couldn’t blame dad playing the role of a knight in shining armour and not having a real close relationship, that part was left to mum.
Dad’s parenting role is shifting and society does appear to be leading the way. With all the celebrity dads photographed and talked about in the media we are getting the image of dad being this cool guy who loves spending time with his kids. It seems ok for dad to show his emotions and even be the parent that children turn to when they have sensitive matters and they need parental advice.
The spin off of course is that dad is picking up skills that he may otherwise not have learnt. Some would even say, dad is ‘getting in touch with his nurturing side.’
The question for all the dads that read this article is “what would be the one thing you would have liked your dad to have give you more of?” Is it more time, more love, more play, more belief… it’s going to be different for everyone. The great thing is that today’s dad is open for change and improvement, so have a real think about whatever it is for you… and then go apply it in your fatherhood. Be the change that you see fatherhood needs. The real beneficiaries will be your children and mum because they will see a dad who provides the love, stability and security that every family needs.
Let’s all celebrate today’s dad for being a hands on guy!
Over to You
What do you think? Have you seen a change in the role of fathers today? Have you got a tip for other fathers? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.
Donovan Grant is a coach, mentor, blogger, speaker and IT professional who brings his wisdom of parenting for the last 21 years and coaching clients through the stages of raising youth and empowering leaders with life lessons that are changing generations. He is a passionate and committed leader who believes that we all have the ability to help to change someone else’s life. Actively doing so as a catalyst for many years he teaches how to live a life of success, balance, integrity and fun, whether at work or at play. www.donovangrant.com