Dads Can Do It Too!
Are you a fan of television shows from the 50s and 60s like I am? I can sit for hours watching I Love Lucy and Bewitched. I grew up watching those shows (in syndication…I’m not that old!) and just loved the zany family dynamic in both. But as a new mother, something recently struck me about most of the shows from that time…the fathers never had anything to do with the care of their children. Granted, they were the breadwinners and provided for their families financially, but I can’t recall one episode of either show where Ricky or Darrin (the original and the replacement) changed a diaper, warmed up a bottle or did anything close to the physical care of their child.
Fast forward to current shows like Modern Family and not only are the fathers more hands on with their children, there is also a gay couple who are raising an adopted baby girl without a woman in sight. There seems to be a new crop of fathers popping up these days, both on television and in real life. They are more involved with the care of their children than their fathers or their fathers’ fathers ever were.
According to a 2011 Pew Research Center study, “Fathers are more involved at home. According to findings from time use data, fathers’ time with children rose from 2.5 hours per week in 1965 to seven hours per week in 2011, nearly a threefold increase.”
I can’t help but wonder…Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
I mean, don’t get me wrong. I just love how involved my husband is with our boys. He does everything for them that I do. Up until recently, the only thing that I was doing that he wasn’t was nursing them. No silly, he hasn’t started nursing our boys. I’ve stopped. We go toe-to-toe on the changing of the dirty diapers. He rocks them to sleep like he’s been doing it for years. And he’s even got this cute feeding time game he plays where he tries to “win” by not getting any food on their bibs while they eat. He doesn’t always do well with that one, but that doesn’t stop him from trying again during the next feed.
There have even been occasions when I’ve had to be away from home for several hours and my husband is with the boys on his own. Most mothers would be a nervous wreck (and I will admit to just the teensiest bit of worry), but I couldn’t think of anyone better or more equipped to care for our sons than their father.
So what’s so bad about a father being able to care for his children as well as their mother can? Just like some men feel threatened when their wife makes more money than they do, some mothers may feel threatened by their husbands being good or even better at childcare. I remember during our first few weeks home with the boys, I was actually jealous of how at ease my husband was with our then newborn sons. I was an exhausted and weepy pile of hormones, and he was just as cool as a cucumber. I couldn’t stand it! I began doubting my abilities as a mother. I thought I was missing that “thing” that all women are supposed to be born with that makes them instant great mothers. Thankfully, I’ve gotten over those feelings.
Yet, I have several friends who are mothers that admit to not having that “mother gene.” Those that are married or in relationships that involve children are happy to delegate some or all of the childcare responsibilities to their children’s father. And the fathers step right up to the plate and take over where the women choose not to.
I say to each his or her own. Whether you are in a relationship where you follow the “norm” and the mother is the primary caregiver for the children, or if you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum and the father handles the children’s care…Do You! No one, and I mean no one, should dictate how you run your household but you and your man. Period! Times are changing, and what once was deemed acceptable has been turned on its head.
Now let me finish this article so I can fold the laundry, make dinner, tend to my sons and put on some sweet-smelling perfume before my husband gets home from work and has “Daddy Time” with the boys while I watch TV. You see, we are the new millennium Lucy and Ricky, and this is how we roll.
Photo Courtesy Of Tomiko Fraser Hines and Petras Gagilas/Flickr