By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
This Father's Day I will hope once again that this special occasion will mark a seismic cultural shift. I will hope that American fathers will have turned a corner and grown as parents to the point where they play as full a role in their children's lives as do American mothers.
I know that shift did not occur during my father's generation. My father, who would have been 80 this year, told my mother that he wanted to see his son (my brother) when he could say, "Daddy." Dad didn't have much interest in any of his three children until they were older. He was a fabulous dad for a teenager with little interest in tending to small children.
But now there's some evidence today's young dads are changing, and this news is quite welcome. USA Today reported this week:
"People don't realize how much things have changed, but if we look at the numbers, we see big increases in fathers' contact with children and big increases in fathers' payment of child support," says Paul Amato, also a Penn State sociologist and demographer.
I see more fathers with their kids in tow on the street, more men food-shopping and more men at playgrounds. Do they equal or outnumber the women yet? Of course not. But there are many more than there were in my father's generation (when there were none) and more even than the men of my generation whose children are now in college and graduate school.
I actually believe involved fatherhood is the solution to the daycare crisis. If two parents split child-rearing there would be many fewer times when no parent was around to take care of children. Fewer women would have to take time out from their careers to parent and fewer of them would then have trouble breaking back into the workforce when their children fledged.