In the western world, fathers have for generations been viewed as playing minor roles in the care of their children. Simultaneously they have been painted as the head of the family, whose main roles in child rearing are that of disciplinarian and bringer of the cheddar.
Fathers are now encouraged to play a more active role in the upbringing of their children. The idea of a good father is no longer simply a money maker or authoritarian figure but one who helps promote moral development, serves as a gender role model, shares the burden of gathering nuts for the winter, nurtures , encourages, and plays an active role in their child’s life.
We learn from those who go before us. How I father is influenced by the ways my dad parented me and how he parented was influenced by how he was parented. Today’s fathers find themselves in a peculiar position. We are the gap between the old style fathers, the fathers who took on more stereotypical models of such as that of money maker, man builder, and the head of the house to the new vision of fatherhood as the dad who gets involved and shares the responsibility.
It is important to remember that father’s now face the challenges and demands fatherhood brings, whilst potentially being caught in a battle between traditional views of fatherhood and new found ideals.
With this we need to ensure that we give a voice to dads. Not to discredit or minimise their experiences but to empower them to talk and encourage them to share their views. New father’s need to know support is there for them when they need it. In that the support needs to be there for them not as an offshoot of mother’s services but tailored to the needs of dad’s. Business owners need to support dads in paternity leave applications. No dad should fear losing their job due to wanting to spend time with their child, or be paid pennies whilst on leave.
To help fathers become what society now wants, we need to change what society offers. Without the support it will never work.
For a really good read on paternity leave check out @youthedaddy blog post here.