Much has been written on the negative effects of absent fathers on family life. Yes, that is critical but why is our literature silent on the larger group of stick around dads—the ones who are present at home, who chase the bedtime monsters away?
New-age parenting wants fathers to participate more at home, however, as much as I look, I find zero practically helpful resources on fatherhood. There are a ton of dads out there that want to be more involved but they don’t know how. They have no support and most of the advice for them is subpar—full of “bro talk” and “dad jokes”. We simply know absolutely nothing about the at-home lives of Dads, the changes fatherhood brings to men.
The experience of giving birth can be so viscerally mother’s that we assume that not much changes for a man—physiologically, anatomically, or psychologically—when he becomes a father. But that is simply not true. For instance, medically we know that testosterone levels drop for a lot of men when they become a father and never return to pre-birth levels (don’t worry, it’s a good thing). But this kind of knowledge has not reached the popular media.
Yes, fathers can be absent at home. But making that the dominant story is harmful. If we truly want to change the face of fatherhood and parenting in general, we need to put the spotlight on the millions of dads who actually do stay at home. These dads are not the clueless, incompetent dorks at home as the cliche jokes go. They are Dads and they are real caregivers. They might approach parenthood differently and bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table, but—as different as they might be—they are no less important or significant or competent.