Involved Fatherhood is Good for Fathers

Involved fatherhood is good for fathers. It sure has been good for me.
Involved fatherhood is good for fathers. It sure has been good for me.

We dads know this headline is true. However, if you read most news coverage on why paternity leave and other supports for working dads are important, you’ll usually see the following arguments:

  • Involved fatherhood is good for kids– especially in terms of positive developmental and behavioral outcomes
  • Involved fatherhood is good for women– especially in terms of gender equity and labor force participation

Both of these arguments are completely true and backed up by a library full of research. But they don’t tell the whole story. Have you noticed who is missing? Ok, I’ll just say it:

Involved fatherhood is good for fathers!

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Dads, Tell Your Work-Family Story as Part of the It’s Working Project!

Please join me, click on this picture, and share your work-family story at the It’s Working Project.

Join me in sharing your work-family story at the It’s Working Project. It will help spread the word about involved fatherhood (and you can even win a copy of my book!)

The awesome folks at the It’s Working Project (led by the incomparable Julia Beck) do amazing work in promoting the needs of working parents. One of the most important things they do is curate the “Portrait Project” a website where working parents share their work-family stories. Their powerful collection of first-person narratives are important for so many reasons:

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It’s 2016. Why Do We Still See Involved Dads as Novelty Items?

Yes, I'm an involved dad, but wearing your baby is normal and common
Yes, I’m an involved dad, but wearing your baby is normal and common

It’s 2016. Good dads aren’t rare – most dads are highly involved with their children. Involved dads should not be seen as novelty items.

Two quick stories about something that annoys me. (Apologies in advance for crankiness, especially as I know those I’m reacting to are 100% well-intentioned).

1. Last week, a mom blogger asked a facebook group of guys who attended the recent Dad 2.0 Summit to send her pictures of them carrying their babies in a sling or Bjorn-like carrier. She wanted to highlight involved fatherhood in a photo-essay, as a way to demonstrate that there are great dads out there. Many dads from the group were happy to contribute. After all, who doesn’t like cute dad and kid pictures?

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3 Simple Rules for Stopping the Daddy Wars Before They Start

The “Daddy Wars” haven’t yet heated up. Let’s stop them before they start.

Stop the daddy wars before they start. Support your fellow dads!
Stop the daddy wars before they start. Support your fellow dads! (flickr: creative commons)

Women are under a lot of pressure to be “perfect parents.” There’s so much unfair societal pressure, comparison and judgment of those who do things differently. No matter what moms do, there seems to be some “queen bee” mom or some aspect of the media telling moms they are doing it wrong.

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Ambassadors of Involved Fatherhood

Me, along with fellow ambassadors of involved fatherhood at the National At-Home Dad Network Convention
The ambassadors of involved fatherhood of the National At-Home Dad Network

Say it with me: “Almost every dad I know is putting in the work to be a loving, hands-on, involved dad.”

Last week, I was honored to be the opening keynote speaker at the 20th Annual National At-Home Dad Network Convention. It was an amazing experience: I met so many fantastic dads, learned a lot,  and made many new friends.

More than any other group, this network of at-home dads represents the front lines of changing the way society looks at involved fatherhood and modern masculinity. Of course, being on the front lines means that these at-home dads face a lot of scrutiny and stigma, and that they get A LOT of really dumb things said to them. Things like:

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(insert number) Lessons About Fatherhood I Learned from (insert tv show/movie)

As you can imagine, I read a lot of parenting blogs and websites. If you visit enough of these sites, you will quickly come across posts like “X Things I Learned About Parenthood from Y,” with Y usually being a popular tv show or movie.

You can learn a lot from fictional dads!

There’s no surprise why these are popular: they are fun to read, fun to write, are universal and accessible for a wide audience, and VERY clickable. When a movie becomes a phenomenon, that rising tide lifts all posts- witness the thousands of Frozen-related blog posts last summer- I bet the readership numbers were also really high. Also, because people will be making Google searches for Frozen or Star Trek or the Goonies or even Leprechaun 3 probably forever (especially when the sequels and remakes come out), these posts tend to have a long tail. (Heck, the awesome Jeffrey Brown has made a career of this)

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Catch These Moments While We Can (on the end of “Nicky, the Skunk and the Dinosaur”)

…but then it occurred to me that never again would he be seven years, one month, and six days old, so we had better catch these moments while we can. -Bill Bryson

I'll miss fun times like these while Nick is little...
I’ll miss fun times like these while Nick is little…

My wife Amy was recently in a play in which her character’s family was, after many years, selling their family farm. In one scene, she’s reflecting with her teenaged son about the memories they shared in the house, and she dreamily reminisces about the bedtime stories she had made up for him when he was a young boy. She ends this scene with the line, “I don’t remember the last time I told you one of those stories.”

On this day, as Nick enters fourth grade, I found this line particularly profound. My son is growing up, and there are lots of things I “used to do” with him that he’s now grown out of. But, just like Amy’s character, I don’t remember the last time I did those particular things with him.

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