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MomTalk.com April 22, 2018:   The women's magazine for moms about children, family, health, home, fashion, careers, marriage & more


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The New Dad: How the Role of Dad is Changing

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What kind of a relationship do you have with your dad? Gone are the days of the traditional mentor relationship such as Ward Cleaver and his sons Wally and Beaver. "Fathers are taking a more direct role than ever in raising their children," says Karen Irvin, Ph.D., Program Chair for Marriage and Family Therapy at Argosy University and a licensed marriage and family therapist and psychologist.

daddaughter2.jpg(ARA) - What kind of a relationship do you have with your dad? Gone are the days of the traditional mentor relationship such as Ward Cleaver and his sons Wally and Beaver.

"Fathers are taking a more direct role than ever in raising their children," says Karen Irvin, Ph.D., Program Chair for Marriage and Family Therapy at Argosy University and a licensed marriage and family therapist and psychologist.

"Dads are more aware from infancy, even from pregnancy, of their child's development and are more interested and involved than ever," says Dr. Irvin. In the past, fathers relied more on their children's verbal skills to communicate with them. Fathers now appear more interested in forming attachments earlier in their children's development. "Dads are no longer limited to teaching ‘manly skills' such as survival, hunting, fishing and sports."

Like it or not, Dr. Irvin says, this is partly due to the beginning of a major culture shift driven by necessity. "With moms less available, dad is making up the difference," she says.

More often than not, the "traditional" mother no longer exists as she is employed either part time or full time. "The idea of a stay-at-home mom with a working dad is no longer the norm," Dr. Irvin says, on a break from her teaching responsibilities and clinical practice.

Fathers are more directly involved in day-to-day child care, in communication with day care providers and schools, and with health care providers. They are more likely to attend doctor and dental appointments than in the past. Fathers previously relied on mom to attend to these details and give dad the updates," says Irvin. Fathers' direct involvement in the details of their children's lives contributes to a greater feeling of closeness and empathy for the children, which increases the intimacy of father-child relationships.

"We are primarily seeing this as a middle class phenomenon right now," she says. In the upper socio-economic level, there are still mothers who are able to be stay-at-home moms with the fathers working long hours outside the home. In the lower socio-economic levels, moms are still carrying the majority of the child rearing responsibilities, in some instances with minimal involvement from the father.

The range of subjects that fathers and their children are discussing and experiencing together is much broader today. Dads are teaching their children values, feelings and other things that were typically "assigned" to moms.

What's driving this?
Through Dr. Irvin's more than 30 years of clinical practice, she has seen more and more couples facing the challenges of divorce, and that the impact it has on a father‘s relationship with his children can be significant.

"Divorce has been a wake-up call for dads. When parents live together, they are accustomed to having access to their children day and night, weekend and weekday. Following separation or divorce, there is heightened awareness of missing the children and missing out on routines such as bedtime rituals. Fathers seem to be clearer about the need for time and intimacy with their children, and they are presenting those needs to mothers, mediators and the courts.

Today, dads are taking more time to learn how to be parents. "You used to have dads that got together and talked about sports or cars, and now they're also talking about day care and nutrition," says Irvin. Some fathers are attending classes with their young children, modifying their work schedules to be more flexible to accommodate children's needs and schedules.

On the positive side of all of this, having a better relationship between father and child means that kids are going to feel more grounded. Recent literature on children of divorce indicates that one of the variables for children's emotional recovery, social skill development and academic success is related to a consistent, stable relationship and time spent with fathers.

So are the days of Ward, Wally and the Beaver over? "Yes … for both the good and the bad. How fathers assume their new role and take on added responsibility in the coming years will be critical."


Courtesy of ARAcontent



Categories: Family,


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