When I compare myself, a father of two girls, to the old-school stereotype of a dad, I feel like we don't exactly match up. In fact, we are polar opposites.
The fatherly mould I'm referring to is one that was shaped when I was just a young kid. My parents were very traditional in the sense that, while they were together, dad worked full-time and mum looked after us kids and house. The previous generation of dads were focused on being the family breadwinner rather than being hands-on with domestic duties.
In complete contrast to that are dads of now, a "new-age dad". But what does that look like? How have we evolved? And where do I fit in?
When it came to figuring out the kind of new-age dad I would be, it was a little more complicated than I imagined. Laura and I had discussed how we'd both manage work as a family. Laura is a hugely successful career woman. I am happy to admit she earns more money than me and I am happy to be a very hands-on dad - so it made perfect sense for us to tackle parenthood together, equally. You're probably thinking this sounds like a great plan and it wasˇ. BUT here was my problem. It's easy to have a false sense of your responsibility as a dad in the first few months because newborns are so dependent on their mums especially if they're breastfed.?
It wasn't until Marlie (our eldest) was a few months old and I was just about to bounce out the door that Laura tapped me on the shoulder with a crying baby in her arms. I had my day planned, my meetings booked, a little gym session at lunchtime, I had just assumed Laura would take Marlie for the day, because that was the routine when she was breastfeeding. I can feel the mums out there rolling their eyes already.
Marlie had transitioned to the bottle and unbeknownst to me, I'd been under-delivering on my end of the bargain. Without fully realising it, or even intending to, I had slipped into a bit of a backseat role when it came to the day-to-day heavy lifting.?That was quite a big moment of realisation for me.
To put this into perspective, I had bought the book 'The First Six Weeks', but at the three-month mark it was still sitting on my bedside table unopened. Laura had done the bulk of sorting out schedules, sleep cycles, burping and bouncing - and I was happy to go along with what she felt was best.?
I think a lot of dads just assume that mums have got this whole parenting thing figured out, that they innately get it; that they're born with some miraculous 'mother gene'. It was a bit of a reality check, at the three-month mark, but it made me reassess how I would bring to life the type of dad I knew I wanted to be.
These days I can wholeheartedly say that I am right there at the helm with Laura driving this wild parenting train. There's no area of parenting that's off-limits - whether it be changing nappies, bath time, pretend tea parties or taking Marlie for her first visit to a nail salon. Not only does the extra time I spend with my girls make our bond so much stronger, it also allows Laura to keep running a business, which is something that brings her so much purpose (and it sure helps with the mortgage).
Even though the role of "dad" is shifting, I do feel like there are deep-rooted societal perceptions that can limit many men from being the kind of fathers they would like to be.
I know in the past I would have felt far more confident going into a conversation with my mates with the news that I secured a new client at work, rather than letting them know I cooked a great dinner and had successfully implemented the new 12 months sleep cycle with Lola.
Even though dads have come leaps and bounds in the last few decades - it's commonplace to see dads in the delivery suite, taking parental leave and heading to the park with pram in tow - the evolution of the new-age dad is far from complete.?
One thing I can say for sure is that once you realise the enormous task of raising children you begin to wonder how women were able to do it single-handedly.
I love that I am raising my girls in a time where the expectations around traditional roles of mum and dad are rapidly shifting, it's not deserving of a trophy - women have been doing this stuff for thousands of years, but there is something so deeply fulfilling knowing that I get to be the dad who is present in my girls lives in every way.?
Also, being a girl dad is pretty dang cool too.?
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