Are Dads More Involved in Parenting Today? – I notice a lot more dads at their kids’ school socials and sporting events, far more than I can recall when I was growing up. Are dads embracing parenting more than they used to? Or, is the pressure to be in on everything coming at great cost to their work schedules.
Are Dads More Involved in Parenting Today?
Back then, there wasn’t NEARLY as many little scholastic social functions as there are now. No Daddy / Daughter dances, few events where dads are invited into the classroom. Maybe a parent / teacher conference, a school recital, and that was it. Now, dads (and moms) are swamped with unending opportunities to partake and volunteer.
Although I have probably the worst memory of anyone I know, I distinctly recall that my father worked all kinds of hours when I was little. He worked late during the week and he often worked weekends for overtime. It just became what we expected. My dad did not have time to come to school functions, parent-teacher conferences, volunteer to chaperone, ballet recitals, etc. But, it wasn’t like I even expected him to because I understood his role at his job and knew that he would spend time with me and my siblings once he was home from work. Also, he wasn’t the only father that missed certain social events. I can’t recall many dads at the scholastic and sporting events when I was in school. Not nearly as many that are going to these events at my children’s school nowadays.
Even as a child, I understood the importance of his job, and would never have even thought about asking him to take time off for one of my functions. Are dads more involved in parenting today? If so, at what cost?
How is it that times have changed so much? As I attend all sorts of school and sports functions for my kids (and they are aplenty), I see dads in mass numbers. Dressed in work suits and sometimes arriving late, they’re there to support. Yes, moms work too… I’m one of them. Even though I work from home, I can’t afford to take the time off to volunteer at the school, go on field trips, make it to every game, etc.
But for this purpose, let’s take a look at the scenario of dad at work. The trend of expectations for dads to be more involved in parenting could be becoming a work-family balance struggle. Are dads feeling more pressured to be involved in their children’s activities? Are they expected to attend every game? Every school choir concert?
When did this shift happen? I’d like to say I don’t judge… if one parent comes solo to an activity, I immediately assume the other parent is busy and unable. I would never think less of anyone if they could not support their child at an activity. I’m sure they’re spending all kinds of time with their children otherwise. So, is it pressure from society that caused this shift? Or, is it self driven… ie. are men who work feeling as though they are missing out and they don’t want to?
If the latter is true, I’m happy for these dads. They’re enjoying their parenting role. But, I also feel their pain… are they struggling with this new balancing act?
Now that we’re seeing these shifts, are the employers following suit? I am hoping they are not too far behind. Employers should be just as flexible and understanding when a dad asks for time off as when a working mom has the same request. If both parents at children’s activities is becoming more of the trend, then all fairness should be exercised when requests for time off are made.
Men should get what is deserving to them as parents… e.g. paternity leave, time off as needed… and most importantly – fair judement among their peers. It’s a huge obstacle, but the working dad that wants to see his son’s little league playoff game should not miss out on any benefits to the co-worker who puts in longer hours.
We all see too well how busy the kids’ schedules keep us. Part of me would love to slow it down, but find it difficult to cut here and there (a separate post alltogether). But, I’m hoping that seeing more and more dads at events is a result of them having more flexible schedules to support the changes in the balance of the work-family dynamics. Hats off to all parents for being there for their kids. It sure didn’t used to be like it is now.
What do you think? Are dads more involved in parenting today?