Many fathers feel that our primary responsibility is bringing home as much bacon as possible. However, this way of thinking requires a significant trade-off that we seldom squarely address. To meet the expectation that we be great providers, we usually spend more time, energy, and attention away from home (and our kids) than their mothers do.
Our fatherly impact lies in life’s details. Think of all the looks exchanged and words we speak every time we change a diaper; the affection we show when we walk the midnight floor calming a colicky baby; the pride we convey by listening to our daughter read her first book, or perform in her first recital. Our greatest opportunity to deepen and strengthen our father-child bond lies in the never-ending, frequently mundane, daily caring for our children.
Not many of us had fathers who changed diapers and cooked dinner. Most of our parents were waylaid by the screwy “child-rearing is women’s work” mindset. But fathering today is different. There is growing support for greater father involvement.
Look at some of today’s divorced professional athletes, who will only play on teams near their kids’ homes. Or look to the pioneer fathers of yesterday, like Ginny’s dad, who figured out the most important things to provide. The impact on Ginny is clear:
“My dad participated in the Saturday chore day, so I never viewed my mom as just the homemaker and dad as just the breadwinner. I remember that my dad loved to bake cookies, and he’d have all four of us kids help him. He’s famous for his cookies where he teaches, and it makes me feel good to know that his students get his cookies now that we kids are grown. I have fond memories of my dad and mom for the people they were and the little details of my upbringing. I have no idea how much money either of them made during my childhood. I just know they were at my T-ball games, they took us fishing, and they didn’t parent by the gender roles that were ‘expected’ of them.”
You’re on this website because you want to have a central role in your child’s life. I call passionate fatherhood bringing “Lamaze intensity” into being a dad. During your partner’s pregnancy, you were willing to go to childbirth classes, protect and nurture her, make sacrifices, and go joyously through the chaotic miracle of labor and delivery. Why should it be any different now?
Today’s challenge is to channel that Lamaze-class intensity and commitment into the fathering you do every day. Your child needs you to be and stay that involved. She needs you to show her how to drive a nail, give a hug, bake cookies, jump off the high dive, tie a fishing lure, and most of all, to show her how a good man respects and loves a woman.
Fathering is too good an experience for you or your child to miss. So please, show up for it every day. Before you’re halfway through you’ll be amazed by how great it is.
Adapted from Dads & Daughters®: How to Inspire, Understand, and Support Your Daughter, © Joe Kelly, all rights reserved.