Times have changed in the family dynamic and everyone is doing more… or are they? Family life is busy and the “dad-duties” have evolved (especially compared to past generations), but it may not be enough given the demands of raising a family in this day and age.
Here’s the reality: family life is demanding more and more of us parents – and, in different ways that we may have never experienced. Listening more to our kids, understanding their feelings, spending more time with them, and taking into account their perspective are just a few of the many present-modern-day family dynamics that are being required of parents. This is especially true for dads! In fact, with every generation, the bar is being raised for dad to be dads*. Many fathers are stepping up to the task, willing and wanting to be the dad kids nowadays need. But what about the dads who could be doing more???
Whether or not the involvement from dads is a lot or a little, it’s important to celebrate all dads – even those who may not be doing “enough”.
In this article, I’ll share why this is important to do, the critical role moms play, the pushback dads may dish out, and some simple ways to celebrate Father’s day!
Many Changes = Very Demanding!
The parental roles have changed and everyone is doing more. But for Dads specifically, it’s not enough to be the fun dad or the cool dad, you now gotta be the involved dad – that is what’s needed for today’s families. Here’s the challenge, most dads are working full time and expected to be more involved in parenting than ever before! Similarly, moms are also being asked to take on roles beyond motherhood and many are working full-time. In fact, in 1976, 40.5% of mothers were employed; by 2021, this had increased to 76.5%.**
This creates an imbalance and confusion of parental roles. In many households, this has been highlighted because every parent is strapped for time and raising a family takes a lot of work! Who’s doing what? Who should be doing: the cooking, the pickups, the homework help, the home maintenance, the quality connection time with kids???
There are so many different roles to play as a parent and sometimes the lines can get a bit blurred. Plus, every family dynamic is different, and parental duties now need to be shared – and that can look different for each family.
Here’s my suggestion: Approach your family as if it were a team and take on the perspective that if you work as a team, you ALL win. This perspective allows every team member (including kids) to take on a role. The neat part is – parents get to decide what those roles are – ideally through a discussion together – and what may work for you and your family, can be unique to your family dynamic. Figure out what works best for your family – determine your roles (which can change over time and discussion) and do them to the best of your ability. And, like any well-functioning team, remember, there may be times where you need to support each other outside of your “typical role”. Winning teams do that – they support one another.
Special note to moms: If you’re a mom reading this, and you feel you’re the one doing most of the parental duties, or you simply just want your partner to be more involved with the children – I get it!!! Trust me, I do. And, I know, through years of my practice (and through personal experience) the most effective way to do this is to focus on what your partner is doing and celebrate that!
It may sound counterintuitive, but there is neuroscience behind this. Trust me it works big time in the long run, when practiced consistently.
Why is this important??
Because EVERYONE benefits! In fact, the most effective way to create a family dynamic that you and the kids would really benefit from is to celebrate the wonderful things dad does – no matter how many or how few it may be.
One of the most prominent Love Languages*** for men is Words of Affirmation. In other words, acknowledge dad for the things he is doing and you’ll see, over time, he will be encouraged and feel good about doing more because he sees the benefits. Benefits such as increased connection with the kids, better communication and being more present as a dad. The bonus is, this will positively affect your relationship together as parents!
Dad pushes back – now what??
Sometimes, when we ask or encourage dads to do more, there can be some pushback. I get it! Dads, who traditionally were the only “breadwinner”, are now definitely doing more than in past generations. As such, some dads can get frustrated and may push back with “my dad never devoted play time with me”, or, “he never changed diapers” and question: “Why should I? I’m already doing a lot”. Although these points are valid, we need to all realize that as a species, we are evolving and we are all being asked to step it up as parents. Both moms and dads! Families nowadays are requiring a different kind of parenting. This can be tough to do because we’re already doing so much as parents and often strapped for time!
So if you’re getting some pushback from dads, it’s understandable! They are doing a lot more than any generation previously was ever required*. But we’re now living in a different generation, one that thrives off of increased time and involvement from both parents, and especially dads!
Here’s what I say to parents: we need to prioritize the three things kids need from us the most: deeper connection, better communication, and being more present.
All the other stuff we do – extracurricular, buying gifts, etc – are not the priority. Instead, carve out time to be more present, and deeply connect with your kiddos!
Why is this important??
It’s a win win!
Now that you know the benefits, the critical part moms play and the reason why we should be celebrating all dads – no matter how much or little involved they are – let’s talk about celebrating them!
It’s time to celebrate!
This weekend is a great opportunity to truly celebrate and express gratitude for dad!
When considering what to do this weekend, I recommend two things:
- Ask Dad!!! In other words, be in communication and simply ask Dad what he would like to do and or receive on Father’s Day. If you know dad is into tech stuff, perhaps get him a gift card or get him some new noise-canceling headphones. If sports is more his thing, consider taking him to a game or carving out time to watch one of his favourite sports with him. With older kids, encourage them to take dad out for a coffee or go to the driving range. In any case, keep it simple and ask Dad – he may just be straightforward and tell you exactly what he wants!
- Acknowledge Dad!!! No matter how little or how much dad does, words of affirmation and gratitude go a long way. Remember, one of the most popular Love Languages*** for men are words of affirmation. So be sure to write a card and get the kids involved too! Little ones can trace out their hand on a piece of paper and write one thing they love about dad for each finger! Older kids can write their own card. As a mom, take a couple of minutes to list out at least 3-5 things that you really appreciate about Dad. A little effort goes a long way – so if nothing else – be sure to let dad know how much you appreciate him!
Remember, acknowledging dad for what he does do is incredibly empowering for fathers.
Celebrating Dad and his strengths is what will encourage them to continue to be the incredible, involved, father figures that our kiddos need!
* Globe and Mail. June 2019
** Stats Canada. May 2022
*** The 5 Love Languages, by Dr. Gary Chapman, 1992