The other day, while at a restaurant with my family, I saw a woman wearing a shirt that said, “Moms…they’re better than dads.” I can be pretty confrontational (being a counselor, I’m accustomed to telling people what I think) but I didn’t say anything. Had I said something, I would have made reference to the implied hypocrisy. Were I to wear a shirt that said, “Dad’s rock and moms are just wet blankets” I’m sure I’d get my fair share of dirty looks and been chastised for political incorrectness. Most shirts that portray dads make mention of their age or how they like to lounge around, beer in hand. Well, this man is much more than that. What I think bothers me most about that woman’s shirt, and others like it, is that it would not have bothered most men.
In my opinion, too many dads don’t take their jobs seriously. Additionally, I think the man’s role in the home has often been minimized to the point of needlessness. Our nation’s progress in women’s rights has had an unintended consequence for men: The women adapted by taking on jobs in the workforce while remaining the natural caregivers at home. However, men have not adapted as well and as a result have been pushed out of the home (or worked their way out) because they don’t take on their share of the responsibilities in our 21st century world. In many cases, the strengths that could have complemented their wives' strengths have been lost.
Dr. Warren Farrell, psychologist and author of Father Child Reunion, spent more than a decade conducting an analysis of extensive research in order to better understand the phenomenon that has been dubbed “The Father Factor” by the National Father Initiative. Dr. Farrell says, “Children clearly pay a price when their fathers walk away or mothers keep dads away. We are 100 percent certain that children do better in [many] different areas when they grow up in intact families.” Keep in mind that if a biological dad or stepfather isn’t present, you can seek out a positive male influence within your community through sports, civic groups, church, or another family member.
I have found that there is a synergy that men and women have as they work to raise their children. However, with a high divorce rate and a society of men who are afraid of the responsibility of being called “daddy,” children often do without male role models in their home. Here’s what they are missing out on.
In our house, I tend to be more levelheaded, while I find that my wife's strength is her intuition. If she doesn’t feel good about a decision, she won’t do it. Her feelings give her insight that normal observation cannot. However, when chaos breaks out at home, I am better at taking charge of the situation.
Men are also known for their courage. When Billy scrapes his knee he yells for mommy. However, when there’s a monster in his closet, he calls for dad because he knows that dad is bigger and stronger than anything lurking in the shadows. Look at it from a kid's point of view: men wrestle alligators, drive monster trucks, and summit mountains. These tasks take courage and children know their dad has it.
Or maybe when your daughter is ready to give up soccer, mom may be inclined to let her because of the chance of injury. However, dad will speak up and counter this logic with tenacity, teaching his little girl that you never quit. Maybe soccer isn’t for her and after the season, this can be discussed, but you never quit something you commit to. No matter how difficult it is, you see it through to the end. This lesson will show his little girl that he believes in her — and therefore she will believe in herself.
Men and women do share similar qualities, but in a marriage or a situation of shared parenting, men can bring certain aspects of their personality to the game and be a blessing to their children.
Finally, of all the shirts that are out there, my daughter has the best one. It says, “Daddy makes me smile.” You bet I do.
What do you bring to the table as a dad? What has the dad in your life taught your kids?
About Dale Sadler
Dale Sadler is the author of 28 Days to A Better Marriage and How to Argue with Your Teen & Win. By day he works with middle schoolers and by night he is a family counselor specializing in marriage, parenting and men's issues. He works hard to be the husband and father his family needs. Follow him @DaleSadlerLPC or visit www.DaleSadler.net