[Originally Published 06.15.2013]
This week I picked up a copy of ParentingOC magazine. The cover caught my attention.
“Modern Dads” — I thought, “Finally, dads are going to get some credit for the things we do.” Too often in the media nowadays, dads are portrayed as clueless, incompetent, idiots. The article was going to cover the spectrum of modern dads. So it’s about time dads like me were recognized.
However, after reading the article I felt like dads like me were not represented.
The article focused on three families: a stay-at-home dad, two gay fathers, and a traveling dad who keeps up with his kids using technology. All three of the examples definitely challenged the conventional image of dad, but am I not a modern dad, too?
So, what are some of the conventional images of dad?
Well, there’s Ward Cleaver–Wally and Beaver’s father.
We’d see him in the opening credits of “Leave it to Beaver” driving off to work. Often times he didn’t return to the episode until the last 5 minutes of the show. Although Mr. Cleaver was respected by his kids and would occasionally have some wise words for the boys, he really didn’t appear to be very involved in his kids’ daily lives. And besides going to work every day, he didn’t really do much around the house to help. By the way, what did Mr. Cleaver do at work?
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s Al Bundy.
Lazy. Selfish. A mysogynist. Next example.
Now, probably the most prolific example of the idiot dad image– Homer Simpson.
Although he’s a lovable character, Homer has been perpetuating the view of the stupid dad for decades.
So why do I think I should be a Modern Dad? Well, I’m not that comfortable with tooting my own horn, but I do a lot for my family. Parenting magazines tend to tout the SuperMoms that do it all– have full-time jobs, raise their kids, maintain their homes, volunteer in the community, take care of their health, etc. They are amazing and deserve that title. But guess what, there are dads that do that, too, and I’d like to think that I’m one of them.
I’ve always been directly and personally involved in my kids’ lives. Early on, I took an active role in feeding and bathing them. I became a pro baby burper and diaper changer. I would have nursed my kids if it were possible for me to lactate. Since they were little, I took my kids out to fun and enriching places.
No, I’m not a stay-at-home dad. I work a full-time job. It’s not a 9-5, 40 hour-a-week job either. I’m a junior high teacher. Sometimes, I have to work extra hours at work and even bring work home. Then, after teaching and taking care of over 200 kids during the day, I pick up my own kids. I make them dinner. I prompt them to do their chores. My wife and I help them with their homework. I prepare goodies for them to take to school parties. I drive them to their evening activities. I pray with them at bedtime every night.
Traditional gender roles don’t come to play in my household. I do a lot around the house… Actually, I do a majority of the household chores. I enlist the kids help by making them responsible for their own laundry now, but the bulk of the cooking and cleaning are taken care of by me. I even do the grocery shopping and meal planning.
I am active at church, volunteering my time in music and children’s ministry. I am also keeping myself healthy and trying to inspire and motivate others to lead a healthy lifestyle as a Beachbody coach, as well.
So, what do you think? Does this qualify me to join the ranks of the Modern Dad? Or is there another category that suits me better?
Maybe, I’m not a Modern Dad… In fact, my fathering style (?) actually resembles that of my own dad’s. My dad raised me from the mid-70s, through the 80s, and into the early 90s. He worked full time but he was still very involved in my bringing up me and my sister. He did a lot. He helped with homework, cooked, cleaned, and served the community.
Would my dad be considered a Modern Dad who happened to be before his time? Maybe he was a Renaissance Dad since he seemed to be able to everything. Whatever label you want to give him, he was a good father to me growing up and continues to be one today. He is also the perfect grandfather to my kids. He’s a wonderful role model and has given me a great example for to follow.
Thank you, Dad! Happy Father’s Day!