We're home from a great week with family - a family that doesn't need improving, but was improved by tropical beaches, salty sunshine, and Hawaiian cuisine (Have you tried Hawaiian mustard???!!!).
Daunting piles of laundry await so I'm thankful for my friend, Ben Linn, who has offered his wisdom, humor, and wit for the day. Thank you, Brother Ben, for sharing...
It's not easy being a dad. The crying of children drowns out the TV. Having to set a good example means no more soda with breakfast. And having to help them do things really has set back my ambitions to be a cage fighting champion (right after I finish this cake). But in all seriousness, I think the toughest thing about fathering (brought to you by Father Loving Our Pre-Schoolers – FLOPS) is the changing role of fathering these days.
I don't know if the Ward and June Cleaver model was ever based in reality, but it's clear that prior generations didn't expect a lot of hands-on child-rearing from dads. For that matter, most things related to domestic economy were once traditionally relegated to moms. In fact, as a not-too-old dad myself (33), I can see that my role is much different than my own father's. This is not to say that my dad was lazy or disinterested in home stuff, but my mom took it all on as a general rule. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, dishes, diapers, child transportation, etc. - these were all usually handled by Mom. Today, I find myself taking on a number of things with my kids that my dad typically did not do with us.
Don't let the rugged masculinity fool you, ladies. I do most of the laundry around the house. I get the kids ready and down for bed every night. I do the dishes. And if there are going to be homemade cookies in our house, they'll be my work instead of my wife's. And it's not for lack of doing the usual dad things either. I'll change the oil and fix the washing machine and barbecue sausage and hang blinds just as often. And of course, I must point out that my wife does quite a bit in her own right – grad school, helping in the kids' classes, and quite a bit of her own housework.
How did this come to be? How is it that my role as a husband and father is so different than what I saw growing up? I would like to share a radical concept... my wife and I talked about it and came up with a plan that worked for both of us. She didn't coerce or browbeat me; she just shared what she felt she needed in terms of my support, and I shared what I felt I could reasonably do. It was an exercise in compromise, and what we have works well for us.
As a sidenote, I can't say what any of my friends do around the house for their families. It's not something we can talk about. If we try to sound like we do too little, we'll be seen as a deadbeat. If we sound like we do too much, it's more like, “You'll make a nice wife someday.” Whatever the case, we husbands are called to love our wives as Christ loved the church – sacrificially and completely. If I can love my wife by hanging up some shirts, that's easy! And I know my Heavenly Father is pretty hands-on with me, so I think I should be as involved with my kids as I can be. And every family is different. So I encourage all the wives to communicate with their husbands and work out some good compromises around the house.