The Evolution of Fatherhood
In honor of Father’s Day I would like to discuss what constitutes a good father. You have to admit, with the parade of fathers I’ve been exposed to, I may be the ultimate authority.
To examine what I believe makes a good father we need to look at the opposite. In my opinion bad fathers may be worse than no father at all. It seems to me, in some cases, a bad father can have a larger impact on a child than a bad mother, particularly male children.
I’ve written about the good, the bad, and the ugly fathers I’ve had the pleasure (or not) of knowing personally. They all had an impact on my life in some way.
In spite of having such a variety of examples I have to say I never had any particular person in mind to father my own children. Honestly I hadn’t planned on having any. Life has a way of altering your initial plans when you least expect it.
My relationship with my mother convinced me I wanted to be the polar opposite of her in every way. Having already admitted I didn’t plan to have children I have to say once that changed I knew exactly what kind of mother I would not be.
I had no idea what kind of father Dave would be. When I met his father he seemed the real life ‘Father Knows Best’ kind of guy. I hadn’t been exposed to that type before, but it seemed refreshing.
I later learned dad never knew his own father. At seven years old he went to live on a farm with a family he barely knew. The father figure he had there was an abusive slave driver. There was no familial love in his life.
Dave respected his dad very much but never felt he’d been an active participant in his life. It was more about bringing home the bacon than being an involved parent.
I’m sure dad thought he was truly like Robert Young in Father Knows Best. He was the bread winner. He came home to dinner on the table, a clean house and a dutiful wife and children. Whether that’s the life he longed for as a child, I have no idea, but it was very common back in that era.
Having felt his father’s lack of involvement in his formative years had a lot to do with the father Dave became.
As I’ve often said, you really can learn from other peoples examples whether positive or negative. Sometimes it’s good to know what type of behavior you don’t want to replicate.
As a result Dave became the most hands on father I had ever known. He changed diapers, loved holding and feeding the babies, never complained about any of it or tried to dodge the ‘work’ involved. Honestly, he enjoyed the infant stage more than I.
As our sons got to little league stage Dave was truly excited about coaching. I remember evenings he would rush to the field from work and change clothes in his car. Baseball was like a religion in our home during those days.
I do think I enjoyed the boys during their teenage years more than Dave, but he has never been anything other than a great father in my opinion.
Now I look at my sons and how they are parenting their own sons and I am bursting with pride at the amazing fathers they have become.
Totally hands on fathers. Little league traditions continue. They are even more immersed in the day to day than Dave was. Times change, we evolve. I am proud to say I believe they took the best of their dad to emulate then took it even further.
It makes me hopeful for the evolution of parenthood in general.
In honor of Father’s Day do you have any stories you’d like to share? I would love to read them.