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December 13, 2007

Hooray For Dads!

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Bigstockphoto_i_love_my_dad_13295_2This whole post is going to sound like I've turned into a card carrying member of the "Family Values Republican Brigade," but I don't care, I'm writing it anyway.  Here I go.

I read this article yesterday about working Dads seeking more family time.  It was in USA Today and written by Stephanie Armour. It said, among other things:

"For generations, "Fathers have defined success as big cars, big salaries, big homes. But dads now define success as a good relationship with their children and spouse," says Armin Brott of Fathers At Work, an Oakland-based business that specializes in helping men find a balance between work and family."

Now the article primarily focuses on tensions in the workplace over the increase in requests by Dads for more family time, but what I took away from the article was more fathers are finally getting it.

What Mr. Brott says in the quote above bears repeating.  For generations "fathers have defined success as big cars, big salaries, big homes.  But dads now define success as a good relationship with their children and spouse." 

That statement gave me such a warm and fuzzy feeling, I could barely contain myself.  Dads are finally really getting it.  Kids don't want more money.  They desperately want more time.  Time to do things as a family, time to experience a relationship with both parents and time to feel supported and loved.

Now we know there are a whole lot of crappy Dads out there.  We hear about them all the time.  The deadbeat Dads, the abusive Dads, the cheating Dads, the absent Dads, the workaholic Dads.  Cliff Huxtable, they ain't. 

Working and non-working Moms still bear too much of the work of family life.  In frustration, that's why I think many a single woman out there has said, the heck with that crap.  I'll just head over to the local sperm bank and presto, I got a kid.  I don't criticize women who make that choice, but I think because the choice is available, we sometimes follow that to the mistaken conclusion that Dads aren't that necessary.

See what I mean about the "Family Values Republican Brigade?"  Just send my membership card to my home address.  Yikes! 

But honestly, I think you can be the most devout feminist or Democrat, and understand we as a society need to think twice about minimizing the need for two parents in a child's life.

Yes, there are many, many crappy Dads out there---I pretty much grew up without my crappy Dad---but if there's a change in the air, a small tectonic shift in family dynamics for the better, that's something to celebrate. 

As the article pointed out, many Dads who want more parental leave or time for family commitments are being obstructed by their bosses.

"For example, the EEOC says, some employers have wrongly denied male employees' requests for leave for child care purposes while granting similar requests from female employees. Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, fathers are allowed to take unpaid leave for the birth, adoption or medical illness of a child. They are allowed up to 12 weeks of leave in a year, although some states grant additional rights for dads."

More corporations can and should help by encouraging flex time and parental leave for working Dads and Moms.  It's still too much of an exception than a rule.

But the negative aspects of this issue are for another day.  Today, I wanted to say a big "Hooray" for all the Dads out there who make every sacrifice and effort to be the best Dads they can possibly be.

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