Monday, June 16, 2014

Parenthood: Week 55 – Father's Day

My mom told me that life for a woman in Taiwan, where she was born, was simpler when she was growing up. A woman had two choices, have a career or have a family, one or the other, no mixture of the two. If you had a career than you were either a teacher or a nurse.

This lack of choices made life a lot simpler and gave woman a clearer sense of direction in their lives from an early age. The downside is that woman’s potential for personal growth was greatly diminished and that this lack of choice reflected the sexism and chauvinism in society that made life unpleasant and very difficult for women.

Fathers are in a similar situation. In generations past, dads went to work and came home and weren’t expected to be as involved in the child rearing as women. There was less ambiguity of what was expected of fathers.

Modern fathers have more choices. There are men who are heavily involved in their children. They change diapers, do laundry and know as much if not more about the care of their children as their wives. Then there are the fathers who have little to no role in the raising of their children.

These choices are influenced by other factors like the mother's expectations, and the expectations of friends and other family members. Also society still has a lot to do with this. A husband who cooks sometimes is an amazing husband where a wife who cooks all of the time is simply doing what is expected. This unfortunately translates to childcare. No woman will get props for changing diapers or making baby food but a man who carries a baby into a public bathroom to change diapers gets props as some kind of hero.

With all of this swirling around, how do we know if we are being a good father?

The reason why I believe that I’m a good father is because my wife and my mom have told me so over and over. As someone who is self-critical and it’s hard for me to step back and assess success sometimes.  So it's really important that I'm told that I'm doing a good job.

The reason why I know that I'm a good dad is because of what I get back from Ollie. 

Being a father is the kind of job that you can do poorly and get by. You can put on the TV, put some electronic toys in front of your baby and zone out.  As long as you check in on your baby once in a while, feed the baby and change her diaper, it’ll be fine. You’ll be really bored and not get much out of the situation, but it’ll be ok.

If you are a good dad, and you pay attention to your child and make an effort to interact in a meaningful way you will be satisfied and content. If you give your all during the time that you have with your child, you will feel like a good fathers.  Moments will come when you can step back and reflect and the joy that only comes from loving your children.

Beyond society, beyond the influence of your family, choose to be a good dad.  It's not an easy choice but it's the right one.  Your child is worth the extra effort and so are you.

No comments:

Post a Comment