Are today's dads better fathers than their own dads? Here are six ways we think they've improved on the previous model.
In an office full of moms (and several child-free people who I like to think are interested in parenting and children), today's talk centred around Father's Day. What did people do for Father's Day? How did Father's Day compare to Mother's Day? You get the picture. Maybe you had the same experience on the playground, at drop-off or at work.
Regardless of our various paternal celebrations (or lack thereof), one thing was clear in our conversations. Today's dads are different. How? Well, let's go from the obvious to the more nuanced stuff, shall we?
1. Today's dads change diapers: You're thinking, yeah, I knew that lady. But seriously, think about your own dad, or think about the scene in every '80s movie where the "doofus dad" used duct tape to seal the diaper. The cultural norms have changed for the better and dads have some serious techniques in this department.
2. Today's dads are pushing their way through the delivery room: In this week's cover story, The Grid's Edward Keenan describes the "two sleepless days of trying to deliver our first baby" as "maybe the hardest, most intense work I’ve ever done. And certainly the most rewarding." I'm pretty sure my husband burst every blood vessel in his face trying to coach me through pushing. When I see that Mad Men-era image of the dad in the waiting room (or bar) with the cigars, or the sitcom male passing out in the delivery room, I wonder why there aren't more positive images of men who are supporting their labouring partners in pop culture.
3. Today's dads want to be involved in feeding: I am pro-breastfeeding, but I have to say that it's one of those awesome things that makes mom feel like Superwoman and makes dad feel left out. I would often express breastmilk first thing in the morning, when I was full-up and when my babies were hungry enough to take a bottle. Then I'd hop in the shower while my husband got some quiet bonding time. Though we've moved onto eggs and peanut butter now, he's still feeding them in the mornings while I have my shower!
4. Today's dads wear their babies on their chests: Slings, bjorns, wraps — papas are sporting carriers and toting their babies around town with pride.
5. Today's dads stay home with sick kids: We moms have made some headway with flex-time, but for many dads the workplace isn't so family-friendly. When a contractor friend told his crew he was staying home to care for his feverish child, his crew asked, "Why isn't your wife doing that?" We need to start accepting the fact that PARENTS, not just moms, are willing to roll up their sleeves when it's needed.
6. Today's dads are taking paternity leave. The National Post reported a mini baby-boom story, with an incredible stat: In recent years, 30-35% of father's are taking paternity leaves, compared to fewer than 10% a decade earlier. When our print managing editor, Katie, came back to work, her amazing husband Blaine stepped in for the second half of the traditional maternity leave year.
We've still got a long way to go to level the playing field. Dads are still feeling second best at times. But increasingly, they're getting their voices heard, as Lisa Belkin states in her recent piece, "Taking measure of Dad 2.012". Our own Ian Mendes writes one of our most popular blogs, and more and more stories by dads are popping up in our magazine.
Today's dads are embracing parenting with a gusto that no prior generation has ever seen. And our kids are better for it (even the latest research proves this). Father's Day may have been yesterday, but in our house, every day is special because he brings his all to it.
Did I miss anything? What else do you think new dads do differently than previous generations?