Dads Can Nurture
I bristle when dadsas a people groupget knocked as inept and bumbling parental counterparts to all-capable and ever-nurturing moms.
Especially when the church (frequently and with much pleasure) feeds into the stereotypes that excuse dads from fathering. I bristle because its an affront to men (Oh, I see youre babysitting, eh?), an affront to women (changing diapers and cuddling babies is womens business), and an affront to God (who nurtures us as the perfect parent encompassing attributes of both mother AND father).
Boston Colleges recent research report, The New Dad: Exploring Fatherhood within an Career Context, explores from a cultural perspective what its like to be a dad in America today, seeking to become a whole person both at work and at home. Many dads struggle to balance both breadwinning and co-parenting. For the first time in our countrys history, over half of college graduates are women, half of the workforce are women, and 70% of two-parent families are dual income-earners. Obviously there are a lot of cultural and personal issues at play here, a number of which are beyond the scope of this blog.
What I find refreshing in the report is the lack of jokes and assumptions about what working dads are supposed to be doingwatching TV, playing video games, golfing, or engaging in other entertainment distractions. Overwhelmingly, dads in the study talked about providing emotional support and being there as being as important as financial support. Fathers engagement and nurturing were the big themes of the interviews. The authors sum up their discussion with this statement:
We would not accept disparaging comments about womens abilities in the workplace. Why do we think it is acceptable to make similarly disparaging comments regarding the incompetence of men as care takers and parents, when for so many men this is becoming one of the central roles of their lives?
There are plenty of dads who need to step upmany of whom are being excused from active fatherhood by our churches. But there are so, so many other dads who need us to cheer them on, expect great things of them, and affirm their importance in the nurturing of their ownand our communitieskids.
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