There’s a new kind of dad in town – cue the tumbleweeds and low whistling that instantly makes you think old Hollywood western. This dad may not have the swagger of Clint Eastwood, but he’s as original as Dirty Harry.
A recent op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal by journalist Sue Shellenbarger examined a newly published study by the Journal of Consumer Research, which based its research on interviews, observations of father-child outings, and analysis of thousands of pages of at-home daddy blogs and commentary.
Shellenbarger wrote that the study suggests at-home dads “take pride in letting their children take more risks on the playground, compared with their spouses.” The study says dads are willing to jettison daily routines in favour of spontaneous adventures with the kids.
Lead author of the study Gokcen Coskuner-Balli, an assistant professor of marketing at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., writes that "Just as we saw a feminization of the workplace in the past few decades, with more emphasis on such skills as empathy and listening, we are seeing the opposite at home – a masculinization of domestic tasks and routines."
"Many men are building this alternative model of home life that is outdoorsy, playful and more technology-oriented."
There’s plenty of evidence of that in Squamish. When my kids were younger, I would marvel – and sometimes inwardly gasp – at the ability dads often have to play it free and loose with their kids. They send them flying higher on the swings, let them sit longer in wet diapers, and don’t mind if they eat with dirty hands. A spring walk isn’t cut short if a child sits in a puddle, it just become soggier.
I have a lot of respect for dads who choose to stay home full time with their kids. Not only is it the toughest job one could probably undertake, for dads it comes with social stigma.
Even if you can get past that, you are still a minority. Let’s face it: chatter between moms at the park can easily turn to cracked nipples and when to start potty training. Not exactly the kind of conversation guys want to get in on.
Moms can learn a lot about letting go of stress and anxiety from their counterparts. Granted hormones may play a part in a woman’s need to sanitize, monitor hydration and snack kids on the hour, but we can take a cue from that laid back dad who is letting his child climb a tree as high as your house. Just think of the balance, strength and problem-solving skills she’s developing!
At the pool the other night, I spotted a daddy friend, a seasoned pro with three little ones under five. The older two were splashing about while Jamie, waist-deep, leaned calmly against the side wearing only his trunks, a broad smile and a Baby Bjorn. Inside nestled the couple’s three-month-old, fully dressed, and sleeping peacefully against dad’s chest.
The only thing this dad was missing was his six-shooter.
Kirsten Andrews offers courses, workshops and private consultations on Simplicity Parenting in the Corridor. For information like Sea to Sky Simplicity Parenting on Facebook, visit www.SeaToSkySimplicityParenting.com or email email@example.com.