The Role of the Father

Happy belated Father’s Day to all of you Dads out there! Yesterday got me thinking about fathers and just exactly what they do and the role they play in all of our lives from birth and if we’re lucky enough to still have them around, through adulthood. Im still fairly new to social media (although I’ve been told I’m making up for lost time!) so this was the first time I experienced Father’s Day on Facebook. I was so touched by the photos and sentiments by those people who have lost their Dads. SO many people that I know – it made me feel sad for them and it also reminded me more than ever how fortunate I am to still have my amaziing father in my life. It got me thinking about the role my father played in our lives and how that has changed over the years to the role that my husband has played in my own children’s lives. Some things are completely different because of  society and simply the times we live in. Yet some things are exactly the same and more important than ever. What’s changed, at least from my own experiences is that the role of the Dad is much more “hands on” now than it used to and also that the role is often filled by grandfathers who are helping out as well. It is really a wonderful thing to see if you ask me. I think it is so sweet when I open my door at dismissal and there are quite a few grandfathers there that are in charge of picking up and taking the children home. How nice is it for them to be the first one to hear about their grandchild’s day in school? They get that special hug and smile that only a child can give you when they are so happy to see someone they truly love. I have also had the pleasure of getting to know many more Dads over the years that work from home or are “stay at home” Dads – I think this is incredible. When I was growing up in the 70’s, there were not too many  fathers around at school. They were all at work and many of them worked different hours and shifts  as most  were fire fighters and  policemen. Many others, like my own father traveled for business. My Dad traveled the world and was often gone for days to weeks. This obviously left a lot of the responsibility and role of primary care giver to my mother. However, I can’t say she saw this as a burden  per se because  it was her role. Its what she was expected to do AND it is what she herself expected to be doing.  Roles were very clearly defined back then and not too many parents deviated from them. With so many more women in the workforce these days, life and families have changed dramatically. We now have many mothers that are working outside their home (because there is no such thing as a mother that doesn’t work!) and many moms that are persuing their professional careers working from right within their own house. There are also a tremendous amount of mothers that travel for their jobs leaving a big responsibility for someone else to care for the children while they are away – this is where Dad comes in. Roles are being shared much more today. With the pressure and demands that so many people deal with in order to make ends meet , both parents are bearing the responsibility of contributing to the family’s finances. That means  both Mom and Dad are getting up and out the door in the morning, commuting to work , getting home near dinner time, picking up the kids, making dinner, doing homework, baths, bedtime – did I mention sports or after school activities??? You know what I’m talking about – it’s crazy! And we all do it. These roles seem to be shared much more in today’s world and to some degree I think it is a good thing. Parents can understand and appreciate their partner more because you are both doing the same thing while sharing responsibilites. Hopefully you are going about this in a supportive way where you when one of you has a busier work week, the other can pick up the slack. And let’s not forget about the families where one of the parents  is not working in a job outside of their homelife – he or she is a homemaker. A homemaker by definition is ” a person who manages the household of his or her own family, especially as a principal occupation”. I have had the honor and pleasure of being a  homemaker for the better part of 13 years – these were some of the happiest days of my life. In those days my husband traveled frequently to London and Hong Kong leaving me home with four little ones. It was challenging but we always figured it out. In today’s world many of the mothers I know travel as well and the Dads are the ones who are home holding down the fort. These Dads do an amazing job of getting it all done on their own,  They got the child up, fed, dressed, teeth brushed, to school on time AND even attempted the hair! (okay…I’ve had to redo a ponytail or two in my day) and this is all before they even got to work – pretty inpressive if you ask me. The role of the father, as far as I can see  has changed. It is no longer  mainly disciplinarian (“Just WAIT ’til your father gets home!”) and sole provider. It has morphed and evolved  to care giver, tball coach, pancake maker, hair braider, playmate, nurturer, study buddy and BEYOND! There is nothing like a father’s love. Whether your father is here on earth or in heaven above – he has left a footprint on your heart and that – over time – will never change.

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