Dads aren’t moms – that’s a well-known fact! Nor are they an extension of moms. They are parents in their own right and play an important role in their children’s lives. An increasingly recognized and valued role. So what’s their role with the children? At one time, being a father meant being minister of supply and commander-in-chief of discipline, but that’s not quite the norm these days. But is there still a norm? How do we define fatherhood in this age of shattered frames of reference?
In recent years, we’ve seen a major transformation in dad’s role. That transformation involves all kinds of transitions, provokes a great deal of reflection and, of course, creates its share of doubts. After all, it’s only natural to be a little confused in times of great change! Men are revisiting their beliefs and perceptions about fatherhood and redefining their own paternal identity. An identity that is certain to keep evolving for decades to come.
It’s still too early to proclaim the end of stereotypes, but let’s just say that the way is open for the expression and experimentation of a revisited fatherhood. Indeed, it’s no longer necessary to stick to previously defined roles: dads are expected to take their place and develop a meaningful bond with their children. The days of the phantom breadwinner dad are gone, and now it’s time to explore!
Personally, in our family, it’s often Dad who cooks with the kids, and Mom takes them camping in the woods. We live in a time when we continually have the opportunity to explore our interests, to honour our personality and our strengths. In short, to add our colours and our essence to our role as parents. Can you see the infinite possibilities open to you, dear dads?
Exploring a revisited fatherhood is likely to involve some trial and error. After all, we need to be daring to find out what’s right for us as individuals and also as a couple or as co-parents.
And it’s not just about what’s expected; it’s also about what’s desired: what kind of relationship do you want with your kids? How do you see your involvement with your family? How do you want to contribute to your children’s education? These thoughts can guide you on your journey as a dad!
It’s a common misconception that it would be simpler to have a “standard” dad model. But there’s no single model of a “good” dad. It’s up to each one to define it on the basis of his own reality, values and aspirations.
However, to develop a strong, healthy bond with your children, it’s essential to spend time with them and be involved, both physically and emotionally, in their care and upbringing.
I asked my three kids to complete the following sentence in writing: “A good dad is ....” They are 9½, 12 and 13 years old. Would you believe me if I told you that all three wrote pretty much the same thing? Their first sentence, with slight variations, was strictly about presence: “A person who’s there for us!”
Being a “good” dad doesn’t mean being “perfect.” It means being there! In the end, it’s not so much what we do that counts, but how we do it. How we’re there, how we pass on our values, how we sometimes take risks (calculated ones, though!), how we assume the importance of this role and how we take the time.
Dads’ involvement with their children and the quality time they spend together have many positive effects on children’s development in every area of their lives: social, cognitive, emotional, motor and identity development.
Yes, it’s true! Your involvement with your children contributes to all of this, and it supports the development of their sense of inner security, their self-esteem and their adaptability. It’s really important to keep that in mind!
So how do you want to experience fatherhood? What ambition will you let yourself start pursuing now? Happy exploring, dads!
Special educator and family coach
Member of the Réseau Nanny secours
*Some conditions and limitations apply.