By Julie Garrison
Special to DadsDivorce.com
Today’s divorced dads who have been awarded physical custody of their children have a heavy burden. They are pioneering a societal movement with little-to-no role modeling to fall back on.
Dads are similar to the suffragettes of the 1930s who campaigned for equality with men. This is exactly what dads are doing in today’s societal and legal environment. They are fighting for the right to parent their own children.
These courageous dads are evolving into role models for future generations of men.
The Importance of Role Modeling
It is a known fact that, in a child’s development, role models are everything. Not only do male children need a strong male role model, but girls do as well. Studies show if a boy doesn’t bond with his father at around 9 or 10 years of age, he will have trouble individuating as a teen from his lack of positive male role modeling.
Similarly, a young woman will subconsciously look for a marital partner who possesses many of the characteristics of her father. A girl needs the foundation of a strong male role model to pattern the qualities that she will look for in a husband.
Media Does a Disservice to Dads
In a Father’s Day article by sisters, Dee and Deanna Bass, entitled “TV Dads – Branding Gone Negative,” the following comments were written about the declining image of dads in the media:
“Over the last 50 years, the Dad Brand has taken a licking. We’ve quite literally gone from Father Knows Best to Raising Dad. If you think we’re being a bit over the top, just analyze the family structure of your top five favorite situation comedies or dramas. We’re sure that four out of five have a less-than-positive image of Dad. Dad is a clueless, inept, bumbling idiot at best — and a cheating, beating, boozer at worst.
Gone are the days when TV dads provided for the needs of their family, coached the Little League team and dispensed sound advice. I know that dads in real life were never the perfect models of our TV dads, but it at least it gave them something to strive for.”
Instead of the “Father Knows Best” attitude of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, now the attitude is that dad knows nothing. This is especially sad because, not only is it a lie, it contributes to and reinforces society’s polarizing stereotype that there is only one way to parent: with mom at home and dad at work.
Pioneers Changing the Paradigm
A recent pro-dad article from ABC World News explored the phenomenon of the upsurge in stay-at-home dads. While it is true that the couple in the article were married, it did illustrate the parents’ willingness to explore the idea that in their situation Dad was happier and better suited to staying home with the kids than mom was. In fact, Mom admitted it, with no guilt or reservation.
The perception that Mom is the caring parent and Dad is the provider is an outdated concept in the real world. Lots of dads are staying home to care for the children while Mom works.
In fact, according to the Census, one-third of fathers with working wives were the primary caregiver for their children younger than 15, while mom was the primary breadwinner. In fathers of preschoolers, one in five of them were the main caregivers.
Even though the stay-at-home-dads issue is not exactly the issue at hand, it does provide a brief look through the window of a changing society where more dads than ever are staying home to raise their children, while their wives are becoming breadwinners. With little support or role modeling, dads are successfully raising their children.
Julie Garrison has been writing articles and short stories for the past 10 years and has appeared in several magazines and e-zines.