21st Century Dad
One Dad's Thoughts, Ideas, and Feelings.
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Good Dad or Good Employee. Pick One.

May 15th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

You Need to Buy Low and Sell High, Stanley!

Photo: foundphotoslj

What does it mean to be a father today? Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead said that fathers are “a biological necessity but a social accident.” That might have been true for generations past, but the fellow dads I’ve met in person or in the blogosphere are nurturing, caring, and as involved as ever. These men really do everything except breastfeed.

It’s a wonderful feeling to be a 21st Century Dad. I take pride in being there for my daughter. I have been to every doctor visit with her so far. I play with her every day. I change her diapers. I feed her (now that she’s been eating solids) and clean up too.

Much of this “nouveau dad” talk is centered around babies and toddlers. There’s a teenager living here too. Teens may want more autonomy from their parents, but when he needs a dad, he’s got one.

Sometimes I feel like working a job gets in the way of being a good dad. Some would argue that working at that job is a big part of being a good dad. The people in charge are from the generation where fathers were breadwinners then came home and planted themselves in front of the TV while mom cooked dinner. How many of them did the feeding, clothing, bathing, and diapering?

Flex time, telecommuting, and other concessions are being made, but that’s only anecdotal knowledge to me. Tales of men being treated poorly in the workplace abound. I know two men who were recently fired because they had the nerve to ask for paternity leave. They were granted that leave with smiles and congratulatory remarks. To add insult to injury, poor job performance was cited as the reason for their dismissal upon their return to work.

I make it my business to see what “21st Century Dad” turns up in the search engines. I found this great article about dads and their blogs. The excerpt below sums everything up perfectly:

In 2006, dads are feeling pressure from both sides. At home, many dads carry heavier parenting loads; they face their own traditional expectations, while at work they face baby boomer bosses who believe the job comes first, according to Joan Williams, director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.”

The flexibility I need isn’t there in a 9-5 job. What would happen if I told my boss, “Can I take the afternoon off so I can take my daughter to the pediatrician?” I’m sure the boss won’t like it. Being a dad today is harder than ever.

Relief from the 60, 55, 50, 45, 40 hour a week 9-5 job is out there in non-traditional arrangements. Freelancing is frowned upon, but has plenty of advantages. When the baby is sleeping, a lot of work can be done. Work-at-home dads with older children can get the bulk of their job done before the kids come home from school.

You can’t change the world overnight, and you can’t do it by yourself. I believe in changing the world one child at a time. We teach them values. We provide them with nurturing environments in which to grow up. We teach them how to become better people. They, in turn, positively influence all the people they encounter. The best way to do this is with both parents hands-on. When you have a generation of fathers doing this, the possibilities are endless.

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8 Responses to “Good Dad or Good Employee. Pick One.”

  1. comment number 1 by: Beth

    Hear, Hear! Let’s hear it for the 21st Century Dads! My husband works full time (and then some) as well as studying for his Master’s. He STILL finds time for the kids. He may not go to every doctor’s appointment, but he darn well knows what’s going on in their lives and makes sure he is a strong influence on them! Kudos to all the dads who take/make the time to be active in their children’s lives!

  2. comment number 2 by: 21st Century Dad

    @Beth: I was feeling handcuffed during the genesis of this post. The previous day at the office, I glanced at a picture of my daughter. I started to miss her terribly. The glance turned into a long look and I started to cry.

    I’m not saying it’s impossible to make time for the kids as a full-time employee, but right now, I’m feeling the squeeze.

  3. comment number 3 by: boogiemum

    Your daughter and step son are so lucky to have you as their dad!

    My hubby has really been getting more involved with our children lately, taking them to the doctors and such. He was quite the workaholic before, but now enjoys helping with the children. This makes me tear up b/c the bond they have is so special to watch.

    He hates his job, (he owns his own company) but now realizes that the biggest bene is he can take time off most of the time whenever he wants to spend that time with our kids. Yesterday he did so to take our youngest to his school end of the year party.

    Keep fighting, we will get their someday. Be the change you wish to see, right ? 🙂
    Also, as a former HR Rep. I can tell you that your friends that got let go have a great case in court…

  4. comment number 4 by: Dad of Divas

    I hear you loug and clear. It definitely is a challenge to be a dad as well as balancing work responsibilities. I am a bit more lucky to have a job where, being the supervisor I can leave if need be, but there are so many other dads that I know where this is not the case, and they have to make hard decisions in regards to what is best for their family. Thanks for the post. I look forward to reading more in the future!

  5. comment number 5 by: Dad of Divas

    Just wanted to tell you that I have linked back with a post of my own on this topic…


  6. comment number 6 by: Jim Berigan

    Hi! Great post! Within the past six months, I left my full-tme job as an elementary school principal and have started freelance writing at home. My wife works full time, so I am taking on many more responsibilities with my four kids, ages 9, 6, 5, and 3. I’ve loved the change and freedom. My relationships with my kids has improved and I have a whole new appreciation for my wife, before she went back to work.

    I look forward to reading more! Thanks!

    Jim Berigan

  7. comment number 7 by: plonkee

    You know, this is the sort of thing that women have been saying for years. Goes to show that it’s not a gender thing at all 🙂 . I’m a firm believer that you can have it all if you want to, just not all at the same time.

  8. […] ran across an older post over at 21st Century Dad that brought up some good points on what the challenges are for a dad these days. After reading his […]

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