Understanding Today's Pressures on a Father
by Susie Cortright
We hear a lot about the Supermom Syndrome but rarely about our Superdads.
We place higher expectations on fathers in today's society than ever before.
Unlike previous generations, dads today are expected to take a proactive role in
caring for the children physically as well as financially.
Gone are the days when a man arrives home from work, loosens his tie, slips off
his shoes, and reclines in the Lazyboy with his newspaper, which he thumbs
through as he waits for his dinner to be served.
Today, many dads don't get that decompression time after a day at work. Some of
the dads pick up their children from daycare on their way home. Others are
immediately struck with the hassles of the day while they struggle to make the
instant transition from professional to father.
As a stay-at-home mom, I would often wonder why my husband would sit in the car for a few moments after he pulled into the driveway. Until, that is, one day when my husband watched our one-year-old, and it was my turn to come home exhausted from a busy and hectic day. How I wished I had stayed in the car just long enough to take a few deep breaths.
Today's dads, much like many of today's moms, must juggle the guilt of not
spending enough time with the family with the guilt of not giving it their all
But women seem to have more support with their struggle. Magazine articles,
support groups, and websites warn moms of the risks of burning out and the
importance of taking care of themselves. They dole out advice on balancing life
and relationships. Fathers don't often band together like moms do.
Even while men are expected to independently take on a more nurturing role, they
are slammed in the media. We watch television shows that too often portray
fathers as bumbling idiots, scared stiff of changing their own baby’s diaper and
incapable of anything other than watching a ball game and slugging beer. We sit
through news reports of deadbeat dads and women who have beaten the odds
despite, not with the help of, the men in their lives.
As natural nurturers, women have long taken on the social stereotype of being
the dominant parent. Sometimes--and I hate to admit that I'm guilty of this,
too--we may subconsciously sabotage their parenting efforts to make ourselves
feel more important.
It's important for us to recognize that dads interact with children differently
than we do. These techniques are neither better nor worse. Just different. Dads
may tend to allow the child to reach a higher level of frustration than a mother
would, which may be an important lesson in resilience.
The father serves an integral role in a child's life. Spending time with both
parents helps children develop an understanding of separation, transition,
autonomy, and gender roles.
Here's to all of the great dads out there, and all of the men who strive to be
great dads. Here's to my husband, who would make a better stay-at-home parent
than I. He is more patient and more experienced with children. He rarely gets
bored, even on the afternoon's eighth reading of Green Eggs and Ham.
I'm going downstairs to interrupt Dr. Seuss and to tell him how much I appreciate the work he does. Maybe it's time we all spent just a few minutes
thinking about the pressures our husbands, and to applaud them for all the
things they do.
About the author:
Susie Michelle Cortright is the author of More Energy for Moms - http://www.momscape.com/energy
- and founder of two "just for you" websites: Momscape.com, designed to help busy women find balance,
and BestSelfHelp.com, devoted to helping you find the most effective personal growth tools.
Visit http://www.momscape.com today and get Susie's course-by-email
"6 Days to Less Stress" free. And visit http://www.bestselfhelp.com
for free self-help classics.