The Role of Dads Has Changed So Much Since My Father’s Days

A Boomer’s Journal:

By Tom Anselm

We are surrounded by heroes. Everyday and extraordinary. Let’s consider the latter, since they stand out more.

Since the events of early in this 21st century, we have come to finally appreciate to the fullest extent those who place their lives and the future of their families on the line each time they head out to work.  Military personnel, firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians… all never know what their day may bring as they don their uniforms and bid goodbye to their loved ones. And while it is easy to overuse the term ‘hero’, I think it applies to those who face danger and fear and overcome it regularly.

These are the folks who run into burning buildings when everyone else is running out, who strive to keep our neighborhoods safe, who fix us when we are hurt, who travel to distant and unsafe places for long periods of time in the name of freedom and liberty. Clearly, we owe them.

Then there are the others, those unsung, toiling in jobs they may not like a whole lot, bringing home the paycheck, taking care of their kids.  I have to laugh when I recall what comedian Chris Rock said once. He was talking about men who brag on themselves by saying “I take CARE of my kids.” To which he retorted as only he could… “Hey, you’re SUPPOSED to take care of your kids.”  Still, there are many who do not, and those who do know the sacrifices large and small that this act requires.

It is a job that really never ends.  Sure, the immediacy and constancy changes, not having to change the diaper or maneuver the spoon of mashed sweet potatoes into an unwilling mouth or hold the tiny hand as you cross the parking lot.  But the concern, the worry that the grown child is safe inside during a storm, the silent anguish waiting for that job offer to come through, this never ends.

Now this is not to slight moms in any way, but hey, you had your day last month.  We just celebrated one for the dads, and it got me thinking about the way we look at this vocation in the modern world.  If you every have been subjected to some of the garbage on television that is passing itself off as entertainment on so-called children’s stations, it is clear that the man of the house is still being seen as a buffoon.  Offspring disrespect is as prevalent as government misuse of funds.

Mom’s give kids that knowing look as if to say “oh, children, he is such a goon, but he IS your father.”  Ugh.  I am tired of that look.

The truth is, us guys are not in an easy position.  We are expected to bring home the bacon and cook it as well, especially since mom is most likely also working.  Not that this is a bad thing, but economics being what they are, double incomes are the norm.

As an aside, did we create this monster ourselves, having to get that late model car every few years, the two-story home, pay TV of  400 stations with only ten or so being watchable, vacations yearly or more often?

Today’s dad is a guy who has multiple roles of coach, diaper changer, worker bee, tucker-inner, yard boy, dishwasher, laundry switched, nose wiper (his kids if not his own), and all-around rock when things go south. And did I mention good husband? My son and sons-in-law handle this mighty task very well, indeed.  And God Bless ’em for that.

My dad was half that guy, attributable more to the times than his nature.  I never saw him fold towels or load the dishwasher. But then mom was home all the time, so you have that.  What he did do, and well, was be there for his family.  Playing catch with us, showing up at our high school games, unobtrusively waving from the sideline, helping us out if our car when kaput and we were a bit short of funds.  And in later years there he was, with mom, up in the stands at our kids events, laughing at their antics, bringing discount store pastries to the door with each visit.

It’s been said that “showing up is half the battle.” Well, my dad won that battle.  He showed up. And for that, because that was how he loved  us, he was my hero.


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