..to all the fathers everywhere who love and care for their kids. I know several who fit that category, starting with my own very wonderful dad, continuing with my kids' equally wonderful dad, and going on from there to the next generation. I think being a father is a very tough job that is sometimes underappreciated by society. While becoming a father has always happened in the same way, the being of a father has changed a great deal, just in my lifetime.
When I was growing up in the 50's, fathers had very defined parameters. They were the "breadwinners" who mainly were responsible for outdoor jobs and home repairs. Many, if not most, fathers were the main disciplinarians for the family. "Wait until your father comes home" was a familiar refrain for mothers, and it was expected that father would deal sternly with misbehavior when he came home from work each day. Most evenings fathers would come home to a home-cooked meal and then relax the rest of the evening. I must say that my dad did not necessarily fit that stereotype. He did do all the outdoor work and repairs, but he also cooked once a week to give my mom a break. He was not above housework and he played with us kids. I remember him lying on the floor many a night and "flying us like Superman." My mom mainly took care of our punishments as the misdeeds occurred, but if Dad was around he took equal part.
Of course, things began to change in the 60's. Many women began exercising their abilities and talents with jobs outside the home. It was expected that dads carry equal parts of the household load, and this was naturally not well received among many males. Change was slow. I think it was hard for the dads to relinquish their "sole breadwinner" status, although it became increasingly necessary to add second incomes to families.
Things progressed slowly in the 70's when Terry became a father. He was a great and involved dad, but since I was a stay-at-home mom, he didn't feel the need to be involved in the daily running of the house and childcare. He played with the kids and taught them lots, but as he told me, "Changing diapers just didn't do much" for him (like it did for me, apparently).
Then during the 80's, I became a working mom, and Terry stepped up and helped with some of the household chores and the childcare, but he was still more interested in his farm than the house. I can't complain because I had absolutely no interest in the farm and more in the house. We balanced out pretty well. The kids helped him outside, and helped me inside. Life wasn't all work, but you certainly couldn't say that we didn't expect the kids to do their part!
Fatherhood in the 90's and up to now has really become a full partnership. A father is no longer the distant authority figure that existed in the early part of the 20th century and before. A good 21st century dad changes diapers, drops off the kids and picks them up from the babysitter, babysits so Mom can get a break, picks up the toys, and cooks meals as well as playing with and disciplining the kids. I think this is a great change, and I admire all those young fathers who want to be and are so involved with their kids.
Of course, we still have the uninvolved and distant fathers. I feel sorry for them and more for their kids. They are missing out on one of life's greatest pleasures. Being a father is a huge responsibility. I am so glad that the men I know take it seriously. Happy Father's Day to them!