Let's Talk Kids: "Dads in the Present"
A long time ago, most Dads spent their days at work. When they got home to a welcoming home and family where a home-cooked dinner awaited, they may have heard about the day in the past tense: “Tommy cried all morning when you left.” “Dad, I built the tallest tower with blocks today!.” “Daddy, I fell down on the sidewalk and skinned my knee.” Dads were dutiful listeners to the life of the family, but sometimes lacked opportunities to be present in the moment with them.
Enter today’s fathers who are figuring out how to be present in new ways. More flexible work schedules allow lots of dads to drop their own children at school and even to volunteer in classrooms. “Flex time” often affords dads the chance to stagger work schedules with moms to be at home with children so that a child may need child care for a shorter day.
Dads are often more involved in hands-on activities with their kids than in past generations. They pack the diaper bag, cook kids meals, give baths, and support extracurricular activities in a way moms often did single-handedly in the past.
The result? Dads are present with their kids in a way that leads to the establishment of more meaningful relationships with their children. Dads are deep in the context of their kids’ lives, rather than being relegated to the fringes.
There’s just no substitute for being present with a child at a lake seeing his first mother duck and string of ducklings. Listening to this moment described at the dinner table—well, it loses something in translation. Likewise, when Dad’s cooking supper at the same time a toddler trips and bashes his head and the dog escapes the fence—this father knows what it means to be in the trenches of family life.
And because Dad is more present, Mom is more free to devote herself to career or other interests outside the home, resulting in more satisfaction reported by mothers.
The ordinary is extraordinary as it applies to making a life with children. Most dads have always adored their kids, but I find it encouraging that present-day dads are discovering new ways to be really present with their children.