[FATHER’S DAY 09] Fatherhood is Changing

As we celebrate Father’s Day this month, let’s celebrate that the rules of fatherhood are changing. Let’s celebrate that we’re living in a time when dads don’t just bring home the bacon anymore but are finding the flexibility to be thoroughly involved with our families. It’s a cool time to be a father, not only because of our kids and our families, but because we’re the ones who are changing the face of fatherhood.

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This is the first in a series of daily articles celebrating Father’s Day 2009.  You can read the rest of the series at: http://thefatherlife.com/mag/category/fathers-day-2009.

I’m amazed at how the social norms around fatherhood in our society continue to change at such a rapid pace. It’s a good thing. I started writing this column exactly a year ago. The year before that we’d just launched TheFatherLife.com in order to get better media content out there for today’s dads. Time Magazine just put out a cover story called “The Future of Work.” In it they delve into the fact that more and more of today’s workforce are demanding flexible hours, wanting to work from home, and basically getting the career and family balance that they want. And a lot of them are guys. That article wouldn’t have been on Time’s cover a few years ago. Fatherhood is changing.

How is it that fatherhood has changed? I think it’s taken a few generations of fathers realizing they want to be more involved in their kid’s lives. It’s also taken a few generations of sons understanding that they want more time from their fathers, knowing that when they grow up they’ll find a way to make it work. It’s taken a new breed of business leader who encourages their workforce to be as involved with their families as they are with their careers and gives them the flexibility to make that happen. Fatherhood is changing.

The internet has played a tremendous role as fathers have more and more access to parenting content and dad blogs online. Several years ago there was only a handful of great fathering content online. Now there’s an explosion of it. And as the internet has allowed us to customize how we consume content we can still tune into the latest in diaper bags right alongside updates on the NBA playoffs. And we can have it all fed to our iPhone or Blackberry. Fatherhood is changing.

Dad’s conversations have evolved a lot as well. We still talk about sports, beer, and politics, but there’s a lot of parenting discussion as well. And not in an awkward way; it’s the norm. Used to be that those details were left to the ladies. Fatherhood is changing.

Generation X has played a big role as well. That little group of slackers (I can say that because I am one of them) born between 1965 and 1978 is a pretty stubborn group who doesn’t take no for an answer. When faced with having a successful career or spending time with family, Gen X’ers have been finding ways to change the rules and get both… and now that’s rapidly becoming the norm. Fatherhood is changing.

As we celebrate Father’s Day this month, let’s celebrate that the rules of fatherhood are changing. Let’s celebrate that we’re living in a time when dads don’t just bring home the bacon anymore but are finding the flexibility to be thoroughly involved with our families. It’s a cool time to be a father, not only because of our kids and our families, but because we’re the ones who are changing the face of fatherhood.

Happy Father’s Day!

Image credit: Theophine Sebastian, SXC

8 thoughts on “[FATHER’S DAY 09] Fatherhood is Changing

  1. Great article. So nice to hear in the wake of “Womenomics” which I think has some good advice…but misses the mark since workplace flexibility isn’t about women! It’s about men as well. Also, it is nice to “meet” someone who fathers as my husband does. With as much time going to his kids as possible – because it’s important to him!

    Have a great Father’s Day…I know my husband will – because he will be spending the day with our little one and to him that’s a fantastic day.

  2. Great stuff Ben!

    I think the greatest gift we can give to our kids is to show them first-hand that you can make a living doing something you are passionate about.

    Thanks to the internet a lot of us dads are going the entrepreneurial route and realize WE can be in control of our life instead of life controlling us.

    It’s about being there for our family first, because time is a precious thing to waste…

  3. Hi Ben;

    My name is Bill Elliott, and I live in So Cal. I am a plumbing contractor and the Father of an almost- 21 year old daughter.

    I found you while reading another blog, JENX67, which I read almost everyday. She did a feature on your blog, and that’s what led me to you.

    I was a weekend dad (some say disneyland-dad) for a very long time. I experienced so many things that I could never begin to relate to you in an email regarding FATHERHOOD…

    But with Father’s Day approaching, I wanted to share with you a poem I wrote one particularly bad day I was having. THE VERY DAY I wrote this poem, on a whim, I faxed it to DR. LAURA SCHLESSINGER’s radio program, and much to my surprise, she read it on the air minutes later.

    I have written many things over the years, but I have to say, this is probably my best yet.

    It is pretty simple, and is written in the meter of a Dr. Seuss book, I thought it fitting due to the fact I read so many of them to my daughter Bethany when she was little.

    You have my permssion to reproduce this poem on your blog, but please give me credit. I hope you and your readers enjoy it.

    It rings so true today, years after I wrote it (1995).

    MY KID’S ABSENT DAD

    (For Bethany)

    I’ll never be an astronaut
    Or be a Head of State
    I’ll never don a black robe
    In deciding someone’s fate
    I’ll never be a Doctor
    A Lawyer or a Cop
    But I hesitate to focus
    On the things I know I’m not

    My job is under-rated
    By those who weild the power
    My efforts are not measured
    By days, but merely by hours
    This is the most rewarding,
    Painful job I’ve ever had
    ‘Cause 27 days a month
    I’m My Kid’s Absent Dad.

    “In the interest of the child”
    Is the Judges’ favorite phrase
    When dealing with a Father
    Who DARES ask for more days
    Invoking judicial desrcetion
    For this child of “tender years”
    Then coldly turns a blind eye
    To that same child’s tender tears

    “Every case is different”
    Say the Lawyers, tongue in cheek
    “But we’ll get you visitation at least
    Every-other-week
    So sign the check and drive the miles
    If you’re lucky, she’ll be home
    If not, there’s little recourse
    For this Dad… at home… alone.

    And when my kid is struggling
    With pressure, drugs, and school
    Pursuing self-destruction
    With what some kids think is cool
    It is THEN the system breaks down
    And society gets MAD
    Then fingers point and blame is placed
    On My Kid’s Absent Dad.

    Everyone screams “EQUALITY”
    But pursues political agenda
    And the kids end up as casualties
    Don’t you think it’s time we end the
    Game we play called “custody”
    An ugly war, that’s sad…
    ‘Cause kids need both thier parents
    And NOT an absent Dad.

    By Bill Elliott
    1995

    Good luck with your blog. I love anything devoted to Fathers

  4. That brings tears to my eyes. It is very unfortunate this has happened to many fathers. I’m lucky my father got custody of me! 🙂

  5. hi bill,

    i read your peom and i was touched by the story it tells, im a fathers inclusion worker trying to get dads back into the lives of their children. i think this poem is a wonderful example of the fact dads/fathers do have feelings.

    i wish you all the best and hope things are working for you.

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