Family Life

How the Fatherhood Role Has Changed

Being a father has never been easy, and it should not be something that is taken lightly either. It is a privilege, honor, and great responsibility, and when I look at my own dad, I can’t help but think about the line of men in my family and how the fatherhood role has changed over the years evolving into what it is today. 

From my grandpa, to my father, and finally to my cousins who have recently entered into the role of father, the way that they raise their children, and the role that they play in their lives, has drastically changed. Looking outside my own family, I notice the same changes for those stepping into fatherhood. 

One local dad, Brandon Foreman, expresses, “I think fatherhood has taken a much more active role. In the past, fathers were looked at as more of the providers, and the mother was the rock of the family. Today, with everyone’s crazy schedules and work life balance, it takes the whole family to keep things moving.” 

With the rise of dual-income households and more women entering the workforce, life begins to move at a faster pace for these families. There are two work schedules to consider and two sources of income, and coupling that with the already hectic life that comes with raising children, “fathers are having to step up and be more than just a provider for the family. They must take a much more active role in helping and mentoring the children,” shares Foreman. 

This means being there physically for the child, providing for the family, and being there for them emotionally and mentally as well. 

To successfully help and mentor children, a father needs a relationship that extends beyond just casual conversation. Yes, your child’s physical health, grades, and progress on chores are important, but so is their mental health, dreams, worries and concerns, questions, and ambitions. 

Fathers used to be portrayed as these rugged characters whose sole responsibility revolved around being the breadwinner of the family. Now, fathers are spending more time with their children physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

Because of this increased interaction, fathers have also changed when it comes to their methods of parenting. The role of a strict enforcer has evolved into more of a parenting style that differs from fathers of the past. 

Dr. Sanjay Juneja, a local father, expresses, “I think in times past, kids were raised more by instruction than collaboration. Meaning, it was more of a patriarchal approach, kids aren’t supposed to do this, boys don’t do that; if you want to be a winner, you have to do this. There wasn’t much room for questioning or consideration of how a kid may have felt about something introspectively, nor the encouragement to voice it.” 

Fathers now, oftentimes raised through instruction rather than collaboration like Dr. Sanjay states, understand that it is an outdated method for fathering your children. Yes, there is a time and place to be strict and instructive, but that should not be the go-to response. 

Dr. Sanjay believes, “We should dive deeper into their personalities and the uniqueness of our children, and based on our observation, develop a plan accordingly. I feel that parenting isn’t about approaching things from the perspective of that’s what winners do, but rather, you become successful when you parent in a way that’s unique to your children and their personalities.” 

This goes back to being present physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is not just about having a physical presence. Children today will grow up to envy their fathers if all they cared about was having this strong, physical appearance that demands respect and full submission without question or thought. 

Children are a blessing. They are unique individuals with their own personalities, quirks, and fears. They should not receive fatherly love in a cookie cutter fashion of the past. Dr. Sanjay shares, “If we continue to take the approach of raising a child based on their individual needs and aggregate of unique personality traits and characteristics, it would lead us into a happier generation in the future with hopefully less division and more kindness in our dealings with one another.”

The cars we drive have changed drastically over the years. The devices we use to communicate with each other have as well. If the cars we drive and our means of communication can change and evolve for the better, the fatherhood role can as well. 

Growing up, my dad was great. He raised me well and taught me many things that I will hope to pass down to my own children someday. There is no denying the impact that he had on my life and the love that he had for me (I am his favorite child after all). But, he wasn’t perfect, and no father can ever expect to parent perfectly. Let’s learn from the fathers of the past and happily embrace how the fatherhood role has changed over the years evolving into what it is today. ■

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