What Does it Mean to Be a Dad?
By Mollee Bauer, General Manager, Pregnancy.org
What does it mean to be a good father? Is being a good dad mean the same thing as being a good provider? Is being a dad really just about sharing life lessons and teaching our children? Most dads will tell you that their definition of what a dad is compared to previous generations differs greatly. The role models they looked up to don’t translate into what’s needed most. Many dads don't want to be the absentee-dad they remember, who left the house to go to work, come back from work and maintain distance.
Today's dad is still expected to be that breadwinner like generations before but is also expected to be hands-on physically and emotionally with their children. Is there a paternal instinct just like the maternal one spoken of all the time? Sure there is.
Does being a dad have a different definition that being a man? How does being a father factor into your life? Society tells boys that to be a real man they have to be strong, independent and goal oriented. That asking for help is a sign of weakness. Some men admit to feeling "less than a man" if they are seen being too "hands-on."
A good friend of mine says that being a dad means, "Having the privilege to be the one to depose character traits on the future, to teach one to nurture and to face the challenges as they arise. Also, being a father means you are a resource of knowledge and love."
The birth of a baby can turn a man's world upside down. Most new dads don't have a clue what to do with a new baby. Getting help is the obvious solution but where should they turn? There are books, websites and even some dad support groups. Are those enough to help dads define their role?
The Boston College Center for Work and Family released in 2010 "The New Dad: Exploring Fatherhood Within a Career Context." They interviewed 33 middle-class, first-time dads and discovered that men no longer define a "good father" as a "breadwinner" but value being hands-on and "being present" more.
To be a dad is liberating, not emasculating. Dads don't want to be like mom, but be like dad -- their own definition of what that means. Parenting like life is fluid. It's time to update the definition.
How do you define being a dad?