In Hallmark’s online exhibit of Father’s Day cards through the years, we found one card from the 1960s that wished a “hippy, dippy Father’s Day to my groovy dad,” but there were far more that pictured Dads relaxing in an easy chair with their slippers, pipe and a newspaper wide open.
Our old-school dads of the ‘60s and ‘70s put in a full day at work and then came home to a house full of kids. While Mom was in the kitchen making dinner and the children were finishing up homework, our dads would sit in their favorite chairs, open the newspaper, and claim to be “resting their eyes.” This was usually followed shortly by deep breathing and snoring sounds. On Sundays, they went out golfing with their buddies.
Decades later, our own husbands would also put in a full day at work and then come home to a house full of kids. But these fathers took off their suit and tie and got down on the floor to play. Admittedly, when they played Barbie and Ken, they were the ones to suggest that it was time for Barbie and Ken to take a nap, but even dog-tired, they were eager to spend time with their kids.
Through the years, these dads have stayed involved in their children’s lives. Our husbands have asked us to schedule Parent-Teacher conferences for 8 a.m. so they could be there, taken off from work to sit in the audience at school concerts and dance recitals, and after dinner found time to help the kids with their algebra homework.
Today’s 20 and 30something Dads seem to be even more involved in their children’s daily lives. They know how to collapse a Baby Jogger stroller, they sign up for Dad and Me music classes, and we’ve seen them at the playground expertly changing a diaper as fast they can click the remote from ESPN to ESPN2. In fact, hipbabygear.com has three pages of masculine-styled diaper bags, including the “Diaper Dude Camo Bag,” which is so cool dads won’t shy away from it. And then there’s the growing legion of stay-at-home dads who are taking on the challenge of being the primary caregiver.
From our vantage point, it’s tempting to assume that the Dads of earlier decades who were less involved in their kids’ lives had less interest, less understanding and less love for them.
But we don’t believe this to be true. We think they were stepping into the role dictated to them by the times.
Over the past two decades, as our children have gone from babies to young adults, we’ve witnessed our own husbands making a daily effort be great fathers, changing with the times. While our own fathers didn’t get a weekly homework update – they only were interested in seeing the report card at the end of the term – our husbands are text messaging our kids to ask how the term paper on economic theory is shaping up. They’re interested in what interests their children.
Today’s young dads might say that our husbands didn’t do enough. But don’t let the fact that they didn’t own a Diaper Dude Camo Bag reflect badly on them. It simply didn’t exist.
We know our husbands would have been proud to carry it, and we’re proud to wish them a Happy Father’s Day.