posted in Mom Stories
Stay-at-home dads: They used to be rare but, as discussed in a recent NPR article, they’re becoming more common. The emergence of the stay at home dad has brought a slew of parenting changes for the future.
A survey from the Pew Research Center found that dads have more than doubled their family involvement since 1965, that fewer dads are the sole bread-winner for their family, and that more dads see parenting as central to their identity. There’s no road map here. This new breed of father is learning as they go.
Even dads who still work full-time outside the home tend to be more hands-on with taking care of their kids. Fathers are changing diapers, cooking, cleaning, and driving kids to activities more than they did in previous generations. But because the roles have changed so dramatically, they don’t usually ask their own dads for advice.
Instead of turning to their own parents, fathers tend to ask advice from their partners. Unfortunately, this means that moms often have to pull double duty, serving as both parents and mentors. Hopefully, the extra help they get in daily chores helps to balance things out.
Dads are also turning to other dads for advice. Whether it’s chatting on the playground or in informal dad groups, fathers are sharing what they’ve learned. You’re much less likely to find goofy sitcom-style dads who don’t know anything about their kids and who are afraid to ask for advice.
All this leaves a lot of dads feeling overwhelmed with the parenting process – to which I’m sure most moms probably say, “Welcome to the club.” But while this generation’s dads might feel like they’re stumbling around in the dark, this societal change will probably help our kids out a lot.
If today’s fathers feel like they don’t have a clue as to what they’re doing, it’s a good time to make sure they observe and consider everything. The successes they have and the mistakes they make can become valuable lessons for the future. As times change, a struggling parent today is a potential pioneer tomorrow.
The lost feeling that many hands-on dads have now doesn’t have to be shared by their kids. If today’s dads spend some time on self-reflection and communicate well with their kids, they can dispense the advice they never received. Admittedly, it won’t all get listened to, but that’s the nature of the beast.
As dads get more involved in the parenting scene, everybody benefits. Moms get help, kids get more hands-on parenting, and the next generation of parents gets more advice and resources than ever. Parenting is an evolving art. The more people willing to jump in and participate, even at the risk of making mistakes, the better.
Who do you go to when you need parenting advice?