by Ginger McMurchie, ECMNCA Owner & Care Manager
June 16 heralds the arrival of another day of celebrating fatherhood. A time when families gather, dad is treated to his favorite meal and soliloquies from family extoll his virtues. While the traditional gathering day remains the same, much about fatherhood has changed.
Fathers from the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s shared many of the same traits and characteristics as their own fathers. It was a time when dad left early in the morning after eating a breakfast prepared by his stay at home wife and arrived home to a meal waiting on the table in the evening. Chores in most homes were clearly divided by what was considered “women’s work” and what was appropriate for the man to do. While we can not put every family unit in one category, the myth went that work outside the home was a man’s responsibility and the home turf belonged to mom.
Fast forward to today. The modern-day dad has had his role dramatically shift. We are now a society of predominately two income earners. Working women and moms are now the norm. Men are stepping up and stepping in. Many fathers provide childcare, do the pick-up and drop off to daycare and school, bathe, feed and put their children to bed while women work longer hours. It can’t be said that men who had young children 50 years ago did not do the same, but the likelihood of them doing most of the childcare was an anomaly.
With our ever-changing world, we see fathers taking on the role of stay at home dad at the same time we are seeing an increasing number of older Americans providing childcare to their grandchildren. Many older adults are becoming caretakers due to circumstances that do not allow the children’s parents to continue in that role. Questions remain on the toll that takes on the older adult as they renew their role of parent and the impact on the children as they watch their grandparents age.
How does the new role of a modern-day dad play with the older generation of men? We asked a group of older men how they viewed the new generation. Many of them expressed envy- saying they wished they had the same opportunity as the younger dads of today do, to spend more time with their children.
Other’s wish that their wives had more opportunities to explore their own interests and regret that some women may have felt that dreams were left unfulfilled. But most expressed resounding appreciation for the example set by the new dads- applauding their engagement with their families. They spoke of the intimacy of increased time that young fathers have with their children while also saying that they themselves, have developed meaningful relationships with their own adult children and grandchildren as they aged.
Well done, dad and grandpa! Happy Father’s Day to all dads no matter what shape and form you come in.