As a former nursery school teacher, I know that dads everywhere will be getting a lot of decorated rock paper weights and paintings of hand prints for Father’s Day. These days, dads have more than just framed family portraits sitting on their credenzas. They have poems and pictures covering their desks and cubicle walls. They have kiddie photos as their screen savers, proudly exclaiming, “I am a dad! I adore my kids and I don’t care who knows it!”
Fatherhood has changed a lot in the past two decades. We’re seeing more daddy bloggers and more dad book titles on the shelves. Yet dads are still wildly under-represented in parenting, given how involved they really are.
I think we need to crack this topic open and give it its due attention and coverage.
I am thrilled that so many dads take my workshops. In fact, I’ve had some sessions with more dads enrolled than moms. And after many conversations with my dad clients, I’ve compiled the following unscientifically researched “wish list” of what dads really want:
1) Sex - I know, I know. I’m not being sexist. I’m being a realist and a therapist. Men need carnal activities the way women need conversations and cuddles. It’s not “base” or single-mindedness. It’s being a man. Women should feel like making love to their man, and if they don’t, something’s up. Why not check out why instead of tolerating it? Don’t settle for a poor or incompatible sex life. Decide to make it wonderful for you both. How’s that for a Father’s Day gift, guys?
2) Acknowledgement - Men often have a different “love language”, and would like to be recognized for the work they do in the name of supporting their family. Often they get slagged for being workaholics or for not being around enough. But men feel they are busting a gut for their family. Sometimes we forget to acknowledge and appreciate this form of showing love.
(Research does show that if both partners feel a sense of equanimity in the division of labour and the intimacy is good, then chances are your marriage will be strong and long).
3) The chance to do things their way – Most dads love being dads and engaging with their children. They truly want to be involved in the parenting, but they would like to do it their own way, free of judgment and criticism. And children enjoy the different personalities and styles of both parents. They know how each parent has fun and handles life. It’s a good thing when you go about your life authentically! Dads just want to be themselves, without worrying about “doing it right” or “doing it like mom does”.
4) Downtime - Dads really know how to approach self-care. (And that’s not another word for laziness!) Dads have no guilt hitting the golf course, or watching the game on Sunday afternoon. Moms should watch and learn from these good role models. Pull up a chair and join dad while he relaxes, or ask dad to reciprocate in kindness by watching the kids while you do something you enjoy.
So, dads – care to chime in? Do you agree with the list?
About the Author:
Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine. Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t MIsbehavin”. She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com.