Henry Ward Beecher
Seeing him with his newborn son is a mix of joy & wow--being a Dad just seems to come naturally to him. Is that really "my son?" He's giving me advice about the proper diaper-changing-technique?
I've heard this from my friends whose sons are now Dads. Sort of a thrilling surreal experience seeing your son become a father.
Times truly have changed. Dads are confident full participants now--doctor visits, diaper changing, reading the child development books, doing baby laundry, whatever it takes--except for nursing.
***Oops! When I showed this to my husband he took a huge exception to my statement.
"Hey, I did all that stuff, too!" OK sure. Definitely the diaper changing & laundry. Don't remember doctor visits or seeing him reading Dr. Spock or Brazelton. I still think it's different today. More of an equal partnership rather than the traditional division of labor of years past.
Day One in the hospital the nurse hands the baby to my son & advises him to hold him on his chest: skin-to-skin.
"That's right! Take your shirt off and hold him against your bare chest. Babies need that kind of bonding with their Dads, too."
I never gave it much thought until just now--reading Lisa Belkin's Father's Day Facts--but my traditional Dad from my 1950's childhood wasn't so far off the mark from today's New Age Dads.
- He was home for us at lunch-time & after-school because he worked at home--upholstering furniture in his basement workshop.
- He gladly ironed our favorite blouses if we desperately needed one for school.
- He read to us daily--including the New York Times--and he always helped us study for school tests.
- We had no alarm clocks in our house. Dad did the waking up duties.
- He knew what was going on with our school work. Dioramas & costumes--he pitched right in.
- He sometimes helped out with grocery shopping and cooking--never minding a quick trip out to the store for missing ingredients.
- He was always loving and affectionate--in that 1950's Dad-kind-of-way--definitely not hugs & kisses 5 times a day like today's average dads.
When the children have to endure taunts about their father from classmates, he tells them to walk a mile in the other person's shoes. And every night, he is a comfortable chair for Scout to curl up in for a good read. Brave, wise and cozy — dads don't get any better than Atticus Finch.
When I saw Lisa Belkin's Motherlode Column this morning, I decided to share.
Dads---You've Come A Long Way, Baby! Happy Father's Day to All of You & Welcome Aboard to the New Ones!
Father’s Day FactsBy Lisa Belkin
To commemorate the 100th Father’s Day, a few measurements of Dad:
He is less interested than he used to be in staying home full-time.
CareerBuilder.com’s recent survey, which it calls “Working Dads 2009” polled 797 men with full-time jobs and children under the age of 18, and found that 31 percent “would leave their jobs if their spouse or significant other’s income could comfortably support the family.” That’s down from 37 percent from last year, and 49 percent in 2005. (The survey has a sampling error of 3.47 percent.)
Dads also say they are less willing to take a pay cut to spend more time with their children. (Thirty percent would still do so, down from 37 percent last year.) They are more likely to bring work home than they were a year ago (31 percent, up from 25 percent) and half have missed “a significant event in their child’s life in the past year due to work.”
He isn’t giving himself enough credit.
A “The State of Dad” report by the marketing firm Sullivan Higdon & Sink, which specializes in marketing to men, polled 150 fathers and 150 mothers and found that while 70 percent of the women think their partners are good fathers, only half of the men agree.
The survey (which has a sampling error of 5.7 percent) found a disconnect between what men and women see as the obstacles to being a “good” Dad. While 51 percent of men said “financial responsibilities” got in the way, only 36 percent of women gave that answer; and while 4 percent of women blamed “pop culture/media,” that answer was given by 32 percent of men.
He is more involved in his children’s education.
A survey by the National Center for Fathering and the National Parent Teacher Association, found that the percentage of Dads who bring their child to school increased 16 percent in the past ten years, while 11 percent more attend classroom events and visit their child’s classroom, and 8 percent more attend parent teacher conferences. Perhaps most striking, 20 percent more say they meet with other fathers for support.
There is still some room for improvement, though. Of the 1000 respondents, 74 percent answered “never” when asked how often they have lunch with their child at school; 54 percent never volunteer at their child’s school; and 39 percent never read to their child. (The margin of error is 3 percent.)
He is more openly affectionate than his own father was.
A Lever 2000 survey found that more than four out of five Dads who responded – 84 percent — “show more physical affection to their children than their parents did with them.” (78 percent of mothers say the same.) Fathers hug and kiss their children five times a day, on average, and more than 64 percent “admit to sneaking their sleeping kids a goodnight kiss, even at the risk of waking them up.”
The economy, the survey found is increasing family stress, but also family closeness. Of the 1018 respondents (the margin of error is 3.1 percent) 74 percent said financial worries have increased the level of anxiety in their family, but four out of five of those also say that one result is more family bonding. They report that they are now spending more time at home as a family (66%) and have learned to enjoy the simple things in life (65%), and realize that family is more important than money.
Speaking of money, we will be spending less on Dad this year.
The annual survey by the National Retail Federation found that the average being spent on Fathers Day gifts will be $90.89 this year, down from the $94.54 spent in 2008. But altogether we’ll still be spending $9.4 billion to celebrate Dad.
To anyone who is a father, would like to be a father, or ever had a father — Happy Father’s Day.