Are Today's Dads Really Different?

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

Last week, in the discussion over the super-silly Forbes piece, I let loose with one of my favorite points: today's dads "are much more interested in getting family and work time in the right proportions" than previous generations.

But I was so busy scratching my head over the whole Forbes flap that I didn't get around to reading the study lying on my desk, "The Effect of Fatherhood on Men's Patterns of Employment." It's an interesting piece of work that pretty much contradicts my argument, coming to the conclusion that dads are working every bit as long as men without kids. There's only one problem: One of the two sources of data the researcher relies on is a survey of men born in 1958. And while guys born in '58 pioneered a lot of things -- disco, stagflation, the personal computer -- I don't think they're the ones out front in the dad revolution.

In fact, I worry that even I -- born into Gen X -- am behind the times when it comes to progressive fatherhood. I've long assumed my generation was really changing the game when it came to flexibility. But the whippersnappers behind me may be the real revolutionaries. A BabyCenter survey of young fathers found much more egalitarian leanings in the twentysomethings than the Xers (who, in turn, are much more family-centric than their boomer fathers).

It raises the question of whether academia can keep up -- the UK study is already a few years out of date, and I wonder if fatherhood hasn't shifted even since the beginning of the decade. The number of at-home dads -- by the shaky method used by the Census Bureau -- is up by more than 50 percent since the early '00s, and I suspect that the availability of cheap broadband, cheap cell phones and the growing plague of Blackberries is making it even easier for dads to blend work and home.

Even the author of the UK study acknowledged -- in a roundabout way -- the changing nature of modern fatherhood. The press release declared dads want flexibility, not shorter working hours. That's not at all what the study showed, but it's probably the truth.

I know the On Balance readership is pretty heterogeneous when it comes to age, so I'm sure there will be plenty of discussion (and, I have no doubt, a defense of the '58ers) on the question: Are new dads doing a better job of pushing balancing than those that started the dad gig a decade or two ago?

Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at

By Brian Reid |  August 31, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Dads , Division of Labor , Flexibility
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These two statements do not disagree with each other.

" today's dads "are much more interested in getting family and work time in the right proportions" than previous generations."


"It's an interesting piece of work that pretty much contradicts my argument, coming to the conclusion that dads are working every bit as long as men without kids"

From my experiences, fathers of generations ago would work hard and then come home to either sit in front of the TV or do things with friends (bowling leagues, etc.). Now, it seems fathers work as hard but instead of getting so much "me" time, using the after-hours time for family time.

Before, the proportion of non-work time was more towards "dad". Now, the balance is more towards family.

Posted by: Father of 2 | August 31, 2006 7:12 AM

Good topic today. We're Gen X and I agree with F02's comment--my husband spends pretty much every minute he has free with our son, as opposed to other hobbies that may have been more common to the boomers.

Posted by: PTJobFTMom | August 31, 2006 7:48 AM

"today's dads "are much more interested in getting family and work time in the right proportions" than previous generations."

Which generation has more balance? Were working hours less, adult/me time more acceptable, children seen/not heard, church every sunday, youth sports not as obsesssive? Was there a mobilized war? Was dad a veteran? Were economic times tough? City life/country life/farm life? Union worker? Management? New father when in 20's or 30's? Divorce?

I fail to see the value of debating which generation of fathers had more balance and to stereotype any group.

Too many issues to make a value judgement.

Posted by: Fo3 | August 31, 2006 8:13 AM

Hey, my husband is a '58 baby (I'm a '55 model). He DOES work long hours--sometimes 70 or 80 hours a week (in high tech and an entrepreneur besides)--BUT he's absolutely always been there for the kids (who are now in college). For many many years he came home for family dinner at 6, did evening duty while I worked, put the kids (and me) to bed at 9, and then went back to work until midnight. We both got up at 6, had a family breakfast--and then he went to work at 7:30. Yep, long hours, but ALWAYS there for family two meals a day!

And way more than his father or mine ever did.

Posted by: DMD | August 31, 2006 8:21 AM

A lot of people talk about how great technology is in "blending work and home" but I think it sucks. I hate how because of email and cell phones (I'm stubbornly against getting a blackberry) takes my work and blends it into family time.

I work 10 hours a day, sometimes longer on deadline, sometimes weekends. I'm not a doctor, I write proposals. My husband is a lobbyist with a similar schedule.

Technology has succeeded in bringing work into family time, but the reverse is not the case. For both parents

Posted by: NewMom | August 31, 2006 8:28 AM

I am a '58 Dad and there is nothing more important to me then being with and sharing my time with my family. I have purposely rejected and/or left good jobs that demanded too much of my time. I am always looking for that IT job that lets me telecommute when I need to.
And many of my peers also seem to be putting their families before their jobs so I think that study may be right on.
Oh, and I have always hated Disco!

Posted by: jimbo21784 | August 31, 2006 8:33 AM

I think technology has made family time easier.

If I have a tight project, without technology I would need to stay at the office late 2-3 hours. This means missing dinner and time with my kids.

With technology, I can "leave" the office at my normal time, have dinner, play with my kids, and get them to bed. Then, I can log on and work for 2-3 hours.

If you have a job that requires longer hours, having the ability to work those hours when you want makes all the difference.

Posted by: Father of 2 | August 31, 2006 8:37 AM

My husband was born in '59, and he is a poster child for the involved dad. He has a daughter by a previous marriage (now grown) with whom -- though she lived a 7 hour roundtrip drive away -- he spent every other weekend until she was 17 and came to live with us for good. He switched jobs several times during her childhood and negotiated every other Friday afternoon off because his child came first. Prospective employers who wouldn't accept that were told that it was a dealbreaker.

He also took 3 months paternity (mostly unpaid, but we'd planned for that) for the births of each of our other two children. He is truly a partner in parenting our growing children and a wonderful father to our older daughter, now in college. Many of his friends of the same age are not nearly as involved with their families as my husband is with his. I am very, very lucky.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 31, 2006 8:37 AM


I agree that technology has made it easier for work to seep in to family life. My husband writes proposals and I edit, which means we both have crazy schedules and work on weekends sometimes.

However, I think the trade-off is worth it. Even though I spend dinner time working, I can do it at home as opposed to staying late at the office. I can also work from home on the weekends, which means I can take breaks to do laundry and have lunch. I wouldn't have the flexibility if it weren't for broadband and file sharing.

But I'll never get a blackberry. Cell phones work for me.

Posted by: Meesh | August 31, 2006 8:48 AM

The baseline year of 1958 as some kind of cut-off for the involved dad is a false measure. It doesn't matter when a man was born re: his involvement at home, it matters when he had kids.

I was born in 1961 (not far from 1958), but we didn't have kids until I was 37. Although I'd like to think that I would have been an involved dad anyway (my dad, born in 1926, certainly was/is), I'm sure my eagerness to be involved in my kids' lives and in the home in general was influenced by how society had come to accept much greater paternal involvement.

Posted by: Ray Lodato | August 31, 2006 8:50 AM

My father worked 40 hours a week and more as the sole breadwinner in our family, while my mom stayed home and cared for us kids. He did little in helping to raise us, other than making us do our chores and enlisting us in helping him with his projects around the farm.

The fathers that work with me now, however, are extremely involved with their children, taking time off, running them to the doctor's office, and generally making time for them whenever possible. I fully intend to do the same when (if) I become a father in the near future.

Posted by: John | August 31, 2006 8:56 AM

I read all the articles that Leslie linked to and decided that what's changed the most are attitudes toward work, for both genders. Men and women are both asking for more flexibility at work and getting it with the help of new technology. Back in the day, it seems that work was "sacred" and that you did it and kept your mouth shut because you had to. Now it seems like the focus has shifted to families, which are now "sacred." Women have been dealing with the shift by working fewer hours or staying home completely. Men have been seeking more flexibility. I think it's great that men are paving the way for employers to be more flexible. I think that most people want to continue to earn a full-time salary but want to work the hours when it's most convenient, so flexibility is key. Hopefully employers will continue to become more flexible for women and men.

Posted by: Meesh | August 31, 2006 9:00 AM

Mr Reid, how could you be born to Gen X? What are you 12? The last of the baby boomers were born in 64.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2006 9:08 AM

My husband (1958) is very involved, which to me means more than showing up for meals. He calls DD from work once or twice a day. They watched the whole Babylon 5 series together, which took a lot of explaining. He taught her to play World of Warcraft and to make wool felt. He keeps track of what the school needs from us, which is not trivial nor fun. And he helps her manage her electronics and music. He is a nurturing soul, and we love that.

Oddly enough, my father has begun to realize what he missed, and reach out to his grandchildren. He spent many days swimming and biking with DD this summer.

So my DD is lucky to have such strong positive male influences in her life.

Posted by: guest | August 31, 2006 9:09 AM

To Father of 2: Excellent, excellent point. I see a lot of evidence around me of guys who are 100 percent on the moment they walk through the door in the evening.

To Fo3: I've been thinking about the issue of whether balance -- in and of itself -- is the highest end of human scheduling. Probably worth taking up in a posting all of its own.

To NewMom: Technology is a tool. It's all in how you use it. I remember the first time I saw widespread cell phone use. It was Finland, 1992. (The Finns were waaaay ahead of the curve on mobile phone adoption.) I could understand the allure of mobile phones, but I could not for the life of me figure out why anyone would choose to have it with them at all time.

To jimbo, WorkingMomX and guest: Good to hear from the '58ers (and thereabouts), and glad to hear that the fatherhood revolution isn't restricted to 24-year-olds who can telecommute and work a flex sked.

To Ray Lodato: I think 1958 was coincidental, and I don't mean to imply that those born before that date are old-school uninvolved father, nor that those born afterwards are hyper-focused on balance. It just happened to be the dataset used, and while there is clearly a progressive streak (see comments above) I'm not sure that it is the best cohort of guys to evaluate the future direction of fatherhood.

To 9:08 a.m.: Apologies on my imprecision of language. I am of the Gen X generation (b.1965 to 1977), born to baby boomers (b. 1946 to 1964).

Posted by: Brian Reid | August 31, 2006 9:35 AM

This is a little off-topic, but yes, the baby boom ended as a statistical phenomenon in 1964 (although I would argue that those of us born in 1960-64 had a very different experience from those born at the beginning, in 1946-50). That means -- doesn't it? -- that Gen X began in 1965, 41 years ago. I think Mr. Reid is more than old enough to be a parent.

Posted by: tail end of the boomers | August 31, 2006 9:37 AM

My Dad was born in '37 and was a great provider. When Mom got sick he provided everything that he knew how to.

However, I don't think that many men of that generation were really big on being "emotionally" involved in their kids lives. Obviously I do not with to generalize and say that "none" of these Dads made the effort, but I feel that this may be where Dads of my generation (born in 1972) can make the biggest change over past generations.

However, this increased emotional involvement may not constitute being more involved in our childrens lives, just differently involved. I would submit that this is because with the increase of professional women in the workforce in recent generations, Dads may have comparatively less pressure to put food on the table, because Mom can bring home just as much bacon. (That's your mixed metaphor for the day.)

I think we're moving in a positive direction in terms of both parents contributing to kids' development, and Dads pushing their employers to give them more freedom to make that a priority.

Posted by: Proud Papa | August 31, 2006 9:48 AM

I think that one thing that has contributed to the push for flexibility (and the benefits it brings for family time) is job mobility. For many "boomer" dads, and especially early boomers, you expected to work at one job for most of your adult life. You stayed at work as long as was needed and kept your mouth shut, because the job was crucial to your life.

Now, thanks to corporate America's two-plus decades of downsizing, rightsizing, early retirement incentives, and plain old layoffs, we Gen X'ers (1974 here) understand that there is often no real benefit to being totally loyal to one's job. If I don't like this one, I can leave. The advent of 401(k) plans instead of defined-benefit pensions also helped fuel this mobility. There is less pressure to stay at any one job that encroaches too much on other priorities, such as family time.

Posted by: Brian | August 31, 2006 10:03 AM

Sorry, bud. But if you read the original work, 1958 is the onset of Gen X (it was originally the tail-end of the baby boom, those of us who were too young to deal with the draft during Vietnam, but too old to trash the boomers). And as a 1958 guy, I can attest that me, and many of my friends, have made choices that traded time for money. We may be lucky to afford this, due to educational attainment, etc. There will always be competitive driven soles who always play to win -- and they will always think that everyone else is lazy and unmotivated because they need normal amounts of sleep. But I can tell you that I would gladly make even less money if I could still do my work and allow more time for my family. So would many of my friends -- especially those who put off child rearing to pursue careers and understand the value of children because it was a conscious choice, not a stumbled into expectation of society (as it was for our fathers who were fathers by 25 or younger).

Posted by: Michael | August 31, 2006 10:10 AM

I'm a relatively new Dad (17 month-old daughter) who is fortunate enough to be able spend a lot of time with my child. But I can't take all the credit for this, my Boomer bosses have been instrumental in creating a work atmosphere that doesn't force me to choose between being available to my family and being a good employee. When someone has family business to attend to in our office, we all gladly pitch in to assist/cover for our co-worker and we know that we can count on people to do the same for us when necessary. It's a wonderful situation to be in and something that will shape the decisions that I make as a manager and leader for the rest of my working life.

Posted by: '69 Model Dad | August 31, 2006 10:15 AM

I read his piece to mean that he was born to Gen X parents, which would make him a little young to be a parent. Maybe I misunderstood him meaning

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2006 10:20 AM

I booted good ol' mother-in-law out of the delivery room and witnessed the miracle of life for the birth of all my kids. I think this 1 single action forever changed the father's perspective of what a relationship between him and his kids should be. Fathers in the new generation have the advantage of being bonded to there kids even before their baby drew their first breath.

The story that my oldest daughter will never live down is when my pregnant wife was laying down in bed and I was cupping my hands over her bulging belly talking to the baby. "This is your daddy, Is anybody in there? Yoo Hoo!" then I pressed my ear against my wife's tummy as if I was waiting for an answer.
Then my precious daughter kicked me in the head...

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 31, 2006 10:27 AM

My father was the model of the "8 hours at work, go home, drink 2-3 beers while watching Glenn Brenner then read the newspaper and go to sleep Dad." My mother taught me electrical work (installing lights), woodworking (making small stools and birdhouses), plumbing (fixing the toilets and sinks) and cooking. My father would dissappear for hours on the weekend fixing the lawnmower, car and doing yardwork while my mother took us shopping, to the pool, guitar lessons, etc. I know this: I never met an effectual, caring father when I grew up- there were none amongst our friends, and I did Boy Scouts for 5 years amongst angry Vietnam Vets and aging, bitter WW2 and Korea vets- I still remember one campout when my Dad and other Dads spent what seemed like hours at the picnic table arguing about experiences in Da Nang vs Correigador vs the Battle of the Bulge vs Cho Sin Valley (the guy who lost survived the Death March defacto won). The whole time the scouts did everything with no guidance.

This was a real problem and it wasn't until I was in college that I met fathers who weren't weekend workaholics or lazy alcoholics. The only thing my father would do that I appreciated was be to take us to museums and farms. Am I 180 degrees different? Well, I try to be. And yeah, when I came to grips with my childhood and get along great with my Dad now- I just can't ask him to do anything.

So my take on it is that yes, fathers today are different, perhaps some are 180 degrees different while others are only mildly different, but I know a small minority of Dads who come home, fire up the computer and stay online all night, and an even smaller minority who drink on weekdays.

Posted by: Bethesdan | August 31, 2006 10:28 AM

I personally have worked with plenty of guys who think it's OK to work 80 hours and then go golfing with their work buddies on Saturday. But it's not as standard as it used to be.

There is power in having more women in the workplace. Not that men have never cared about their families, but it's more accepted for women to speak up for their family time, and I think it's freed many men to speak up as well.

Bottom line is that I think it's becoming more personality-driven. Like I said, I still encounter guys who say stuff like, "Yeah, my wife hates me. I work all the time. Ha ha ha." Guys who pick their spouses specifically because they know the woman will be OK with them traveling for work 5 days a week forever. But I also know women like this, and I also know plenty of people who are successfully achieving better balance. I personally view this as a partial victory. Now if we could just get the workplace to be more friendly towards balanced folks!

Posted by: jen | August 31, 2006 10:35 AM

I'd like to agree with "Father of 2" that one's work time doesn't necessarily mean anything regarding involvement with kids. Sometime I find others' expectations frustrating, as I'm expected to be a good, involved father; yet I'm also expected to be sucessful at work. Both involve time. Basically, I
do my best not to sleep.

Posted by: '67 Dad | August 31, 2006 10:51 AM

In the first post I think Fo2 hit it exactly. And oddly, I think this is a bad thing. People need "me" time. And modern dads (of which I am one) often feel presured not to get it by peers and family.

My wife and I have found that we can give each other time off. And _that_ is mightly important.

Posted by: MWB | August 31, 2006 10:53 AM

"Basically, I do my best not to sleep."

Hey '67 Dad, sleep is over-rated. Right?

Posted by: Father of 2 | August 31, 2006 10:53 AM

To Bethesdan

I'm a little older then you (born in the 1950s), but it is amazing how similar our lives and our dads were.|I'm glad you get along with your dad now. Mine died when I was 20.

I still see a lot of ineffectual dads today. Yes, they take their kids to the zoo and attend PTA meetings, but they secretly spend most of the time rubbernecking. They still fall asleep at school plays, dance recitals and in church.

You can fool some of the people some of the time....

Posted by: June | August 31, 2006 11:02 AM

Were fathers really that uninvolved in child rearing prior to Gen X, or is this a myth?

My husband is a very involved dad, and he is of 1970 vintage. We both work good jobs with reasonable hours, after hours sometimes but we can both do that remotely.

My father, of 1940 vintage, was a great dad as well, he cooked dinner most nights, made my lunches, picked me up from school when I was sick, took me to my various activities, and would take my sister and I skiing for the weekend (no mom along) on a regular basis. According to my mother (and they are divorced, so she has no reason to be overly charitable), they shared child rearing 50/50 when we were young. He was in grad school and she was working when they had their first child, so I can understand how they fell into this. I do not recall thinking, however, that my father was more involved than other dads I knew. Nobody I knew had the "father knows best" scenario going on, but this was the 70s in southern california, so maybe it was a little more progressive of an area. My father was also an academic which gave him a lot of flexibility in his hours.

I noticed a lack of father involvement mostly when my friends' parents were divorced and it was an every other weekend kind of thing. I have noticed a change in how divorce works out, much more truly shared custody which I think makes the best of a bad situation.

Posted by: AU Park mom | August 31, 2006 11:14 AM

I think the comments by 67 Dad and Fo2 are true for both working dads and moms - we are expected to work hard at work and then want/feel the need to spend every other moment with our children, and it means no down time for ourselves or our marriages. It's really hard.

My husband and I are lucky that we're able to have him work part time, so he gets plenty of time with our son, and it takes some of the pressure off the whole situation. My dream would be for both of us to work part time, something like 3/4 hours, so we could all have enough time, but that's a hard situation to line up financially.

My husband, by the way, was born in 59, but our son (his only child) was born when my husband was 45. He thinks he would not been nearly as good a dad had he had children when he was younger. I'm not so sure.

Posted by: Megan | August 31, 2006 11:17 AM

Well I feel the need to speak up for the Dad's out there prior to 1958 :)

My father born in 1943 worked seven days a week, very long hours but came home to change diapers, kid duty and general playing around with us as kids. Never did we feel that he was not involved....I am close to my father even because of him and my mother being involved in my everyday growing up that has established a precedent for myself to be an active parent in my sons' lives.

Each generation of parents have done their best for their children; each is different and cannot be judged based on standards that are modern in this world.

BTW, alot of Gen X'er's father's in my neighbourhood would rather be horsing around on their "toys" then playing with their kids. My husband is by far the most involved father around here and even the neighbourhood kids at times enlist him to play kick ball.

Now how sad is that eh.....

Posted by: Mom in Canada | August 31, 2006 11:23 AM

"My dream would be for both of us to work part time, something like 3/4 hours, so we could all have enough time, but that's a hard situation to line up financially."

Megan, I completely agree with you. If only more places would pro-rate benefits such as health insurance, leave, etc. rather than just not provide them for part-time employees, I think a lot of us would figure it well worth a proportional cut in pay.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | August 31, 2006 11:36 AM

define full-time / part-time please. I work 40 hours full-time, but others here have talked about 60-80 hours so their part-time is >= my full-time.

i also wonder if people are including their commute time when referring to how many hours they work.

workers/unions in past generations worked very hard for an 8-hour day which still applies to a lot of jobs. Maybe it would be more balanced if there were 3 workers sharing what 2 workers are doing now. Oh, but that might mean salaries being cut by a third. I often wonder how much the desire for the large salaries, prestige, dream-job, etc drives the long hours.

Posted by: to megan | August 31, 2006 11:39 AM

Rockville Mom, exactly!

To to megan,

Well, we are pretty lucky in that we think of our hours on a traditional 40 hour week for the most part. I work between 40-45 hours most weeks, occasionally a little more. I work from home 4 days and drive to the office one day, so the commute time is not an issue.

My husband works about 20 hours per week.

When I say I would like us to both work 3/4, I mean about 30 hours per week. I would happily take a proportionate cut to my salary to do that. The problem is, as Rockville Mom mentioned, a lot of companies don't pay benefits to anything less than full time (not all, but a lot), and that in a lot of professions you wouldn't take just a proportionate cut in salary, from what I've seen it's either just not an option, or you take a much bigger cut (ie, 1/2 pay to work 3/4 time).

Posted by: Megan | August 31, 2006 11:46 AM

I'm a relatively new mom (son is 6 months old), and I have to say that my husband (we are both Gen X) is doing a great job following in my dad's footsteps of being a caring, involved parent.
My dad spent 22 years in the Army- my entire life, since he retired the year I graduated from college- and he was always involved. Ball games, soccer practice, picking us up sick from school... the only time he wasn't there was when he really wasn't- because he was in the field! My mom was, and is, a teacher, and was actually less available for some of the "emergency" stuff that comes up with kids. My brother and I grew up knowing that both my parents cared, all the time, and that they both knew darn well how to beat us at board games!
My husband is doing a fantastic job being involved with our son, and takes care of him full time when I have to do my Reserve duty. You should see him do dancing baby! So have things really changed? I guess is depends on your role models. I was lucky.
Balance is possible. Very hard, and takes a lot of work and love, but possible.

Posted by: Tiffany Danko | August 31, 2006 11:51 AM


Your husband sounds like me. When I was younger I didn't feel like I was ready to raise a family; now I'm 45 and looking forward to the challenge.

My father already had four children by that age, and didn't really do much other than discipline us and make sure we helped out around the house. Then my mom died in a car crash when I was 16, and he tried to handle both his and my mom's roles in our lives (mine and my younger brother). Unfortunately he had little experience in that role, but he did the best he could under the circumstances.

Posted by: John | August 31, 2006 11:54 AM

I agree with the comments that being a 'good dad' today too often means putting your kids ahead of the marriage. This is a real problem today- kids have gained an elevated status so that the family revolves around them- with very unhealthy results: spoiled and selfish children and exhausted and unhappy parents.

Posted by: observer | August 31, 2006 11:56 AM

I second AU Park mom on her observation that Academia is a more family friendly place. Both my mom and dad are boomer academics, and it made for a lot of flexibility and family time. I remember going to work with both of my parents when I was sick (and loving it), being brought along on business trips to interesting places, including Europe, when I was in high school, taking long trips in the summers, etc. My husband is now getting his PhD and we have two kids, the first of whom was born while we were both still undergrads. There's a lot of stress around finals, and quite a bit of early morning and late night studying, but there's also incredible flexibility. Of course, conditions vary from school to school and field to field, but I highly recommend academia for parents who want to be able to spend time with their kids.

Posted by: Momof2 | August 31, 2006 12:01 PM

The Gen X'ers (and younger) are just not as self-centered as the allegedly progressive boomers so it doesn't surprise me that we spend more time focused on our families.

Posted by: Rufus | August 31, 2006 12:10 PM

"Basically, I do my best not to sleep."

Hey '67 Dad, sleep is over-rated. Right?

Tell that to those air traffic controllers down in Lexington.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2006 12:10 PM

John, that sounds like a very intense situation. I wish you the best in becoming a dad someday soon - my husband occasionally frets that he is too old, but truly he's amazing and incredibly happy as a dad. I guess we all just come to things at different times.

Posted by: Megan | August 31, 2006 12:14 PM

I had always heard that '64-'65 was the end of the boomers and that '60-'68 were considered "cusp kids", those that could fall either way or exhibited both traits.

Shout-out to fellow Panther, Fo3! Can't wait for the hockey season to start.

Posted by: Working Dad | August 31, 2006 12:26 PM

My dad was born in '41 and I can remember him helping a lot around the house growing up. I can remember him doing the laundry, cleaning the house (he could wield the vacuum like a pro -- it was the favored way to get rid of guests who stayed too long after dinner or a party), etc while my Mom worked in the yard mostly and also did housework. My folks pretty much seemed to split the housework. I also know now (in hindsight and after conversations with each of them) that they spent so much time on the house, on studying, on work and on us kids that they neglected their own relationship.

Posted by: Doris | August 31, 2006 12:28 PM

Being a good dad (whatever that means) is not enough, if you ask any mom. Who cleans the toilets and cooks the soup? Being with your children is okay, so far as it goes, but if you don't share in the housework, you're robbing your wife of the valuable time SHE could be spending with the family as well.

So I think just focusing on the time with kids is misleading and not very helpful to the discussion. It's also a bit sexist, in that it presupposes most moms are always there to backfill for the dads (and in this day-and-age, that ain't necessarily so) and that we just naturally expect the Little Woman to clean house.

Posted by: Gene | August 31, 2006 12:38 PM

Rufus --

Boomers may be self-centered, but they opened all the doors -- legally and socially -- that have allowed younger generations to have the lifestyles that permit them more time with their families.

So, don't knock 'em,. kiddo. You owe them a lot.

Posted by: pittypat | August 31, 2006 12:40 PM

This past weekend, my husband's younger brother bragged to me about having only changed 4 or 5 diapers in his 2.5 year old kid's life. I though he was joking. He said, no, he "had other things to do."

The weird thing is, he IS an involved dad in so many other ways, but when he said that, I realized upon reflection that he's always doing "fun" things with his son. All the drudge work of parenting has been left to his wife and other female family members.

He's a Gen X/Y-er.

Posted by: Mom-to-be | August 31, 2006 12:42 PM


quite a generalization. if memory serves me correctly, the boomers went to work or war or college, and then left home to be adults. did not boomerang because it was easier with their parents than off on their own.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2006 12:47 PM

I think Mr. Reid means he is part of Gen X. I am assuming Gen X is the generation that follows the baby boomers. Aren't boomers kids called Gen Y or the baby bust generation? We should start to number generations. It would be easier to keep track of them that way. Or at least start with generation A and move forward. That would give us at least 26 generations before we would need to go to two letters:generation AA.

Posted by: Lieu | August 31, 2006 12:54 PM

To clarify, 1964 is the end of the baby boom which goes from 1946-64. There is no Big Year of the boom, but big numbers around 47-50, 1958-60, etc, which is why you get both upper teen Peter Paul and Mary folkies in 1963 at the same time you see 13 yr old instrumental surf bands. Generation Xers are born from around 1965-1980ish. Generation Y is 1980-1995 (birth of internet popularity). You'll get some argument on that, but I've read those numbers in many places.

Posted by: Bethesdan | August 31, 2006 1:01 PM

Out of curiosity, did anyone have a father who served in WW2, Korea or Vietnam in combat (and I mean in combat, working the supply depot in Hawaii doesn't count here) who was a nice, fun-loving guy? Just curious.

Posted by: Bethesdan | August 31, 2006 1:04 PM

Boy parents really DO have a hard time of it- expectations of the public, putting on a show, being involved, NEVER saying ANYTHING less than being a wonderful parent because SOMEONE is gonna take it to mean that you obviously suck (because everyone secretly knows that they have no clue what's going on and thank god they can deflect something to someone else), while hopefully getting a modicum of financial stability, trying desparately not to shed you OWN insecurities and baggage onto your childrens lives (impossible) and SOMEHOW in all this, actually raising a human being who is stable, secure, inquisitive.

IMO only a very small percentage of humans in the world are really called to raise children, just as only a very small percentage of humans are really called to become a priest. The fact that so many others keep trying their best is sweet and endearing, but also quite tragic.

Oh, to the topic- yes I think there is some change in how fathers work within the family. But I think it will take huge restructuring of expectations and working well together of the mothers AND the fathers to really make a difference. Until mothers start changing, there's only so much fathers can do.

Posted by: Liz | August 31, 2006 1:05 PM
This link says that demographers refer to the boom from 1946-1964 but births actually started to decline in 1957. So I guess it is sort of up for debate. I do think it is funny to use the 1964 cut off. Because that would mean my brother, who is 4 years older then me was born to the baby boom generation, while his siblings are part of Gen X.

Posted by: Lieu | August 31, 2006 1:06 PM

Are today's (younger, Gen X and Y)
dads different? I certainly
hope so!!! I'm of the "Cohort
of '58," born in '57, previously married for 19 years to a man born in '53. My experience was
that Mr. '53 was as traditional,
set in his ways, SCARED OUT OF HIS MIND of upsetting the "Daddy works his butt off, Mommy does
all the child care" applecart
as my own father who was born in '20. My ex ran and worked with a pack of men at his office whose wives were all (for the time being) SAHM's. Only his wife (Me!) had the audacity to work FT and expect Mr. '53 would be there about, oh, 50 percent of the time. I mean, this was 1983, not
1893 or 1923! My son, now 22, certainly absorbed the whole scene and he has different ideas (hey, having thoughts and ideas, it's a start) about how he'll parent and how much time he'll be there for his kids. I hope he won't cave under peer pressure or find that employers have ripped out the flexibility for dads and men at work. What can I do now to ensure that my grandchildren someday will have as much of their dad as their mom??

Posted by: SF Mom | August 31, 2006 1:07 PM

Proud Papa, I think you nailed it about fathers being more *emotionally* involved now. I've seen two men--my husband's grandfather and my own father, who were pretty close in age despite the generation difference--grow into being much more *emotionally* involved with their grandkids than they were with their own kids. This is not to imply that they were bad fathers; they were just less likely to be outwardly affectionate to their kids. It's like it didn't occur to them that they could be affectionate, like it was assumed that that was the mother's role. Maybe it's just easier to open up to grandkids, but I have to think that time has allowed men to open up more in this way, also.

And Father of 2, I had to laugh about the bowling league comment. When my grandparents were in town visiting us once, we drove past the bowling alley. I said, "Grandma, that's where daddy lives." How's that for a comment on how after work time used to be dad time? :)

Posted by: niner | August 31, 2006 1:08 PM

Lieu wrote: "Or at least start with generation A and move forward. That would give us at least 26 generations before we would need to go to two letters:generation AA."

Lieu, how about a naming scheme, like they have for hurricane seasons? It's worse than software releases. In what mode of math does version "8" follow "MX 2004"? :)

And, heh, heh, we're finding out how old everyone is today...

Posted by: niner | August 31, 2006 1:12 PM

Yeah, and if you had your kid by 18, then you and your kid could both be baby boomers. Weird.

Posted by: Lieu | August 31, 2006 1:15 PM

'Out of curiosity, did anyone have a father who served in WW2, Korea or Vietnam in combat (and I mean in combat, working the supply depot in Hawaii doesn't count here) who was a nice, fun-loving guy? Just curious.'

very interesting question, I hope we get lots of responses to this one!

My dad was born in 1932, volunteered for the coast guard during the Korean war, and was sent to the north atlantic right before his Army draft papers showed up. So he avoided the action on the front, on purpose, and was a fun loving guy and a very involved and encouraging father.

Wonder what it means?

Posted by: experienced mom | August 31, 2006 1:17 PM

My dad (born in 1935) was very involved with me as a child, but less so with my brother (who is 8 years older). Of all his close buddies, he is the only one who changed diapers at all (of course, not when I pooped). He was the one who got the kids up and ready in the a.m., made us breakfast, packed me (but not my bro) a lunch, made dinner 50% of the time, did the laundry & dishes -- very different from just about all of his friends. I remember having friends come over and be amazed that my dad knew how to do more than just barbecue. I was born when my dad was 40 and I think he was just more into being a dad than he was when my brother was born. And of course, there's the whole "daddy's girl" thing.

When I was pregnant, he offered to sit for my daughter when I went back to work. Since he still won't change diapers, I didn't think that would work out so well, but he is very into the whole baby thing.

Part of why I think my dad was so involved is that my mom's career, starting about 25 years ago, was just more high-powered than his, so he picked up a lot of slack at home. He was the one who picked me up from afterschool activitites, took me to the doctor (mom still made the appointments), helped me study, etc.

I knew when I was setlling down that I wanted a man just like my dad...except one that would change poopy diapers.

Posted by: MNMom | August 31, 2006 1:29 PM

Out of curiosity, did anyone have a father who served in WW2, Korea or Vietnam in combat (and I mean in combat, working the supply depot in Hawaii doesn't count here) who was a nice, fun-loving guy? Just curious.

Posted by: Bethesdan | August 31, 2006 01:04 PM

My dad was drafted to Vietnam. I'm not sure of how "in combat" since he didn't like to talk about it - I know he lied and said he could type 60 wpm to try to avoid being on the "front lines", but I also know he faced a lot of fire and his camp was attacked etc (can you tell I know nothing of the correct terminology?).

He rarely talked about it in depth - I can think of only twice: once when he was teaching me to drive and totally panicked when I drove over a small fallen branch, as it caused a flashback of trying to clear land mines, and once on 9/11, when the school where he taught was near the Pentagon and went into lockdown and again caused a flashback of his unit being attacked.

Overall he was a pretty fun loving guy, pretty relaxed and generally a good father. Turning into a spectacular grandfather. My sense is that he put some sort of emotional wall around those experiences and rarely let them bleed into his life, although I think they also gave him a certain feeling of the preciousness of life that should never be squandered. The three peices of advice he has consistently given me are: 1) F 'em if they can't take a joke; 2) Don't let the bastards get you down; and 3) Always carry your resignation in your back pocket.

Posted by: Megan | August 31, 2006 1:32 PM

My father inlisted in the Army reserves about 3 weeks before his draft papers came (miliatry snafu). The closest he ever got to combat was a contentious poker game. He was a clerk/typist with a JAG unit.

He often tells a story about how one of their weekend trainings required camping in tents. Nobody in the unit wanted to camp so they stayed at a motel down the road. They told command back at base where they were and nobody seemed to care.

Posted by: Father of 2 | August 31, 2006 1:42 PM

Megan --

Your dad's reticence to talk about his experiences in VN is very typical of VN vets. Unfortunately, when they returned to the U.S., instead of being welcomed back, they were vilified and treated like the enemy. Consequently, communicating their experiences and feelings was pretty much impossible.

Their experience was very different than that of WWII vets, who were welcomed home as conquering heroes, and even Korean vets, who were seen to be fighting the "Communist menace" and, hence, doing something honorable. That said, many WWII and Korean vets, likewise, didn't talk about their experiences because their families expected stories that were much different from what really happened.

Anyway, your dad certainly had a lot to struggle with (especially if he was prone to flashbacks), and it's really wonderful that he was able to cope with everything well enough to be a good dad -- and a great grandfather.

Posted by: pittypat | August 31, 2006 1:49 PM

I had a similar experience to Fo4.

My wife got very faint when our first was born. I made sure my wife was all right then accompanied my newborn daughter to the nursery for those initial tests.

Now I had read to the baby in the belly, cupped my hands and talked to her, but honestly nothing really bonded me to her as much as being in the nursery with her.

She was crying, and I just started talking to her, she quieted down and looked right at me while holding my finger.

Little brat won't let me forget it either. Now I'm wrapped around her finger. As for daughter 2 and three, they love me, but didn't quite bond with me like the first.

But still DDs are the best, and I hear they come home more often than sons too.

I think I used to give up too much time for my first and now she wants to be first even when the others have needs. Did I spoil her? Yep, but I'd not change a thing.

Posted by: Mr. Estrogen Central | August 31, 2006 1:56 PM

About veteran dads:

I think you have to differentiate between combat veterans/career military and officers/enlisted. Different perspectives.

Anyway, my dad (Vietnam) and his dad (WWII, Korea) were both combat veterans, officers, and career military.

My grandfather was and my dad is fun loving, but in a nonconventional way. They are serious, but don't take themselves too seriously. My dad's advice is to "roll with the punches." Their personalities are similar in the hardcore work ethic they instilled in their kids. Yet they also let the moms do pretty much all the child rearing. Work came first.

Posted by: armybrat | August 31, 2006 2:01 PM

My dad served in WWII behind enemy lines in Burma and China with the OSS. What he did was not fun. When my sister and I found his lock pick set he told us about being trained by the Britsh SAS as a commando, but made it funny, said the worst thing was having to eat powdered eggs and stewed tomatos for breakfast. He also showed us how to use the lock picks. He made sure we could safely handle firearms as well as cook dinner.

I got seriously sick when I was about 6 and the docs said I'd never walk. He found the one doc in Baltimore who thought maybe after surgery, I could use crutches for the rest of my life. After the surgery and hospital time, he found us a house with a pool and spent mornings and evenings with me in the pool exercising my legs. I walk just fine now. The docs said it was a miracle, but really it was my dad practicing what he called country medicine.

He even encouraged me to go on cross-country bike trips -- also forbidden by the docs. I applied to the Coast Guard Academy and was accepted academically, passed the test. It was only when I took the physical and flunked that I realized I was technically disabled -- my knees don't bend very well and I just couldn't figure out how to get up the ladder straight on.

He had a very interesting life, doing most of what he wanted to do professionally and I think that helped him put the war experiences in perspective.

I was born in '56, and he was the best dad he could be given his circumstances. He was the most capable parent -- my mom had what I now know were severe depressive episodes made worse by her alcoholism. Dad did the laundry, until we learned, cooked dinner and taught us how to cook, took care of school stuff.

When I married in early 80s I expected my husband to be like my dad: share the work of home, do vacuuming , cooking etc. He does now but it took a few yaars. We had a child real late, since he's 5 now -- and my husband is a super involved parent. I'm not sure he would have been earlier in our marriage, but our first child died and that made a big impression on both of us.

I would say the culture now is much more supportive of dads being involved with their kids, but it also depends on the man.

Posted by: Sarah | August 31, 2006 2:25 PM

I'm married to one. He is VERY involved with our kids (he has far more patience to help with homework, for example). I was born in 1960, so my husband and I are at the end of the baby boom, and I think those of us who came of age after the early years of the feminist movement did so with the expectation that both parents would be full-time parents as well as full-time employees. If anything, our problem is not too little parenting, it's too much work -- and I'm grateful to Gens X&Y for insisting on more work-life balance.

Posted by: Dads born in 1958 | August 31, 2006 2:25 PM

I am a 67 dad and never has my own dad been there for every event. He was a great dad mostly.
I on the other hand want/will do things different. The words I love you come out of my mouth and my two young sons everyday. They LOVE...REALLY Love their daddy. THe schools they attend just love them, perfect behavior, perfect attitude. Not too perfect, they are still all boy.
I read and read about all the wondeful thigs people are doing and it makes me feel good to be a father.

Posted by: 4RealPop | August 31, 2006 2:27 PM

"Out of curiosity, did anyone have a father who served in WW2, Korea or Vietnam in combat (and I mean in combat, working the supply depot in Hawaii doesn't count here) who was a nice, fun-loving guy? Just curious."

My grandfather fought in the Pacific in WW2 and he's nice and fun-loving.

Posted by: Maria | August 31, 2006 2:33 PM

I'm reading this as I sit at home cashing in my FMLA leave to stay at home three days a week to take care of my 2.5 year old and my 6 month old. I decided to take time off to bond with the youngest and provide child care until both girls have a full-time spot in pre-school.

My experience has been as follows. First, I am a gen Xer working at a university and my boomer bosses, although they approved the leave, did so reluctantly. They thought it wasn't "in the spirit of" what FMLA meant. I had to have discussions with them about it takig the time off. None of the women in our office have had to have those discussions. Additionally, when I take my two young daughters to the grocery at 10:30 on a Tuesday, I am almost always the only man in the store, outside of those working there. I have always been the only man with two children. The attention/recognition I receive from women doing the same thing I am, but usually with more children astounds me. It has been a discussion point among our closest friends. I almost always recieve a compliment for "spending time with my girls" or they give me props, stating "I can't get my husband to go out with one of them!" I thank them for their kind words and remind them they are doing the same thing, or more if they have more children. I think more men are involved in parenting before and after work, as has been mentioned. I see loads of other Dads dropping kids off or picking them up at my oldest daughter's pre-school. I have spent time hanging out with other Dads and their young children. We've joked that we couldn't imagine our own fathers doing the same thing when we were young. In my anecdotal experience, more Dads are involved in parenting, but child care is still dominated by Moms.

Finally, as a Career Counselor, I have found that most employers still don't know what to do with anyone, men or women, wanting a flexible schedule to stay at home part time with their children. I've had clients who had job share arrangements pulled out from under them that left them scrambling. There are many employers who do get it, who do understand the importance of the balance. I am confident those employers will have an edge when it comes to attracting talented, dedicated, hard-working people to join their organization. It just requires a little flexibility on the part of the employer and employee.

Posted by: Indy Career Counselor | August 31, 2006 2:45 PM

Random question: after Generation Z, what do we start calling people?

Posted by: 215 | August 31, 2006 2:55 PM

Young dads are putting more time into their kids in hopes of getting more out of their kids in the future. Pensions ain't what they used to be.

Posted by: Chris | August 31, 2006 3:07 PM

Horse Pucky! I'm a traditional father of three children. Our household is politically "liberal" but we attewnd church each and every Sunday (Calvery Chapel) and I have taken my children hungting and fishing since they were five years old each (my beautiful daughter - soon to make me a very proud grandfather come next March - still shoots trap and isn't going pheasant hunting with me this Fall because her mother is concerned about pregnancy and crawling around in a muddy, wet field). I am crazy, head over heals in love with my wife of 27 years and myheart still skips a beat when she is getting ready for bed at night. I love her and our child so much and am loved so much in return I feel overwhelmed. While our children were small and all the way through school, I worked 12 hour days so their mother could stay home with them. I spent my weekends enjoying them all and thanking God for the gift they are. My sons, neither of whom has a girlfriend (we know of) are both a "chip off the old block" and will make some young woman a wonderful husband someday. So, I pray that my sons and my daughters husband are NOT modern parents. I want them to be honest, loyal, Godly, and Democrats, but mostly I wish them happiness in all of the abundance I have enjoyed.

Posted by: MikeB | August 31, 2006 3:34 PM

NOT modern parents? Does that mean de-emphasizing guns or what?

"I want them to be honest, loyal, Godly, and Democrats, but mostly I wish them happiness..."

Could you clarify? Something about stones and glass houses comes to mond.

Did you mean horse hockey? How do you get skates on the horses?

Posted by: Fo3 | August 31, 2006 3:44 PM

Wow, old-school democrat in the house :)

Posted by: 215 | August 31, 2006 3:47 PM

MikeB, do you think that being honest, Godly and Democrats is incompatible with being modern parents? Or that being modern parents will deprive them of the happiness you've experienced? I ask this honestly, it sounds like you do from your post and I am curious as to why.

Posted by: Megan | August 31, 2006 3:48 PM

MikeB --

Why tell us the name of your church? How is it significant to the points you're making?

Posted by: pittypat | August 31, 2006 3:49 PM

MikeB --

Why tell us the name of your church? How is it significant to the points you're making

Why does it matter either way, he didn't tell you to go to church?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2006 4:04 PM

I do. Fo3 seems to me to be typical of a lot of modern young people. The writer pretty much gives away that they have given up on believing that genuine love and genuine happiness can exist in the world. I wrote about the guns, by the way, to make a point and draw out the cynics and the extremists - it did so admirably didn't it? As for liberalism, I honestly don't think you can be a conservative or a leftist and have the sort of intellectual integrity it takes to raise and accept and forgive mistakes (mine and their's) and unconditionally love as a family. That requires thought, a willingness to try a different way when the old ways fail, to adapt. That, too me, is what it takes to be a good parent and a good spouse. A modern parent? I people around me rushing around and never stopping to enjoy what they have. A lot of young modern parents are both working jobs to provide a house and lots of "things" for their children when what the childen really need is love and attention. Same for a marriage! The most wonderful wedding anniversary I can recall was when my wife and I were so poor we couldn't even afford the smallest gift. I was called out that night on an emergency (I was working as an electronic technician then) at the new Hilton Hotel in town. I got there and spent several hours fixing their new cash register system and was about to go home when the chef presented me with a box - two incredible dinners, lobster even!, a bottle of wine, dessert, an incredible feast. At home I laid this out for my wife and she and I had the most wonder anniversary dinner anyone has ever had. My God is the God of goodness and joy and unexpected wonders when you least expect them. Sometimes that can merely be the ability to bear up under the strain of a horrible circumstance, sometimes it is just a smile, and sometimes it is an unexpected romantic dinner.

Posted by: MikeB | August 31, 2006 4:05 PM

"Our household is politically "liberal" but we attewnd church each and every Sunday"

Mike B these two things are not at odds and need not be separated by "but".

Liberal Churchgoers Everywhere

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2006 4:06 PM

Awesome to hear a voice for tradition around here Mike!

What is your bowling average?

Posted by: to MikeB | August 31, 2006 4:06 PM

Veteran dads...

My own dad made into the National Guard, and didn't do any combat. But his best friend was drafted into the Army and did a combat tour in Vietnam. He was a very fun-loving, not uptight guy--a very "fun" dad, in my view (us kids were all very close in age and we spent a ton of time together growing up). Especially compared to my own quiet, introverted dad.

And my maternal uncle (same age as my dad) served in the Navy during Vietnam. His experience didn't impact his class-clown personality one iota.

Neither, to my knowledge, ever really talked about their experiences. It seemed like they made a conscious decision to leave that in the past and live their lives.

Posted by: Brian | August 31, 2006 4:08 PM

No girlfriends, eh?

Hmmmm. Hmmmmmmm.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2006 4:09 PM

Mike B,

I appreciate your philosophy and I suppose the major question is the definition of "modern parent." To the extent that you are saying that parents who focus solely on the material are misguided, I completely agree. But I don't think that sharing the roles of breadwinner and caretaker in new ways necessarily means being materialistic or misguided.

I also think your comment about conservatives and leftists is interesting - I hadn't thought of it that way but I do suppose that anyone who is rigid in their viewpoints would make for a difficult parent or spouse.

By the way, I think it was more the confrontational tone of your post than the mention of guns that brought on strong responses.

Posted by: Megan | August 31, 2006 4:12 PM

Who cares and what possible difference can it make whether "today's dads are really different" ?

Another yuppy puppy topic!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2006 4:13 PM

"That requires thought, a willingness to try a different way when the old ways fail, to adapt."

More to my point of view on "modern parenting."

Glad you're happy. I cannot see how my short post proves I have given up on Gen-u-ine love.

I hope you use that keen perceptive intuition for your kids too.

Posted by: Fo3 | August 31, 2006 4:13 PM

MikeB --

The ability -- and inclination, even -- to find beauty and magic in everyday simplicity is a real gift. Your wife is lucky to have you.

Posted by: pittypat | August 31, 2006 4:13 PM

At home I laid this out for my wife and she and I had the most wonder anniversary dinner anyone has ever had. My God is the God of goodness and joy and unexpected wonders when you least expect them.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2006 4:15 PM

"to MikeB" - My wife and I actully were in a bowling league for one season when we were first married. As our children got older we would take them bowling once and a while, but it wasn't something we ever did regularly. The children and I *did* join an archery team and shot bows and arrows for several years. We also did Tae Kwon Do as a family for more than 10 years. My interests, I thnk, result from how I was raised. My afther never played basketball with me. We tried baseball for one season, but a line drive hit "klunked" me in the head and kocked me cold! -- so much for shortstop. What my dad did with me was fish and hunt and shoot targets. This is not meant to draw out the fanatics from ewither side, either, this is what I rememeber most and loved the most about doing with my dad...*the* only authentic hero I have ever known. And, so, it has been pretty natural to do that with my children. I honestly don't think it really matters what you do, so long as you do it together and love it!

Posted by: Mike B | August 31, 2006 4:16 PM

What exactly is a good parent? Can anyone truly define it?

Posted by: 215 | August 31, 2006 4:17 PM

"Who cares and what possible difference can it make whether "today's dads are really different" ?
Another yuppy puppy topic!"

Maybe, but I've really enjoyed reading some of the posts about fathers and grandfathers. Sarah, I thought yours was particularly inspiring.

Posted by: Megan | August 31, 2006 4:20 PM

To All,

I haven't been a participant on this blog for very long -- just a few weeks -- but still I'd like to make a suggestion.

Since posters are free to post under any made-up name they want, there is no risk in putting a name on your post and, hence, no reason not to. Posters who continually post anonymously make it difficult for others to respond. We end up having to say "To the anonymous poster" or or "To the 2:37 poster" -- all pretty awkward.

So, I'd like to make the suggestion that posters on this blog not make any responses to posters who don't put a name on their posts.

Of course, everyone can (and will) do as he/she wishes. I, for one, will not be responding to any post that does not have a name.

Posted by: pittypat | August 31, 2006 4:23 PM

"What exactly is a good parent? Can anyone truly define it?"

On definition might be a parent the kids are willing to come visit when they're grown up.

Grandad served in the Pacific in WWII, and while he was a reasonably happy guy he mentioned the war to me exactly once: to tell me that he'd had nightmares for ten years afterwards.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2006 4:27 PM

Ok, I know I'm going a little post-crazy here, but I'm waiting for the world's slowest document to print, and then I will leave y'all alone.

But I thought that one good answer to 215's question was right above it compliments of Mike B - seems to me that one big part of being a good parent, or at least a good family, means doing things together. The families that I see that are the happiest are the ones that do stuff as a family, whether it's working on their house, building a boat, playing sports together (not just doing little league), gardening, whatever. I hope that's what we're able to do as our son gets older.

Posted by: Megan | August 31, 2006 4:30 PM

pittypat - I use MikeB but there are at least four posters using that name floating around on various forums on the Post. My real name is Mike Brooks. I am a 59 year old software and electronic engineer and live in Eugene, Oregon. I'll go back to being MikeB but someone posting under that name might or might not be me. Everything I have posted here is completely true. If you live in the Eugene area, I attend the Tri-County Calvery Chapel and would invite anyone to attend. There you will meet a whole room full of men and young men and fathers and father to be that are a lot like me.

Posted by: MikeB | August 31, 2006 4:32 PM

I read this blog to keep up on the new slang the kids are using these days. For example, horse pucky and yuppy puppy.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2006 4:38 PM

Veteran fathers:

My dad was career military starting in Vietnam as he left college. He went from there to South America and the Middle East for various tours. If you asked me to describe him I'd say he was a dorky military dad, like many of my friends' dads. He tells corny jokes, rough housed with me into a bad shoulder, and drilled me in history. However, he and the other dads all have alter-military-egos used in the appropriate places (my boyfriend says he sees both sides. One when I'm around and one when my dad is feeling him out).

I also have a retired Marine co-worker who was deep into difficult places his whole career. He's a great, fun guy with small children (he started late) he does tons for. I also have no doubt he was rather effective at his original line of work.

My feeling about veterans is that some can deal with their experience and lead regular home lives. Career military are said to have better coping mechanisms due to working with others who understand them and having time to work out their feelings. They can act appropriately in the appropriate setting. My dad would say that no one enjoys their homelife more than a soldier.

Posted by: Running | August 31, 2006 4:46 PM

How about VLIs and shiggety?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2006 4:48 PM

To MikeB --

I live on the other side of the country and am neither a Christian nor a churchgoer. But I think your sentiments about your wife and family are really beautiful. Those are qualities I treasure in my husband. (Except for the hunting part!) :>)

Thanks for giving me a smile today.

Posted by: pittypat | August 31, 2006 4:48 PM


You and I are somewhat polar opposites idealogically and yet it seems that we share some of the same values, although you seem to assume that we don't. I am a Gen-X'er (1965), moderate conservative, non-church goer. Although I am a God believing human being, I disagree with many of the tenets of most of the existing organized Faiths and don't care for church assimilation (particularly proselytizing faiths). I disapprove of guns in private hands, etc, etc. What you tout as the things you are proud of are many of the things that I'm proud I'm not.

And yet, I see it differently. I see older couples (empty nesters) who are more materialistic with their Cadillacs/Town Cars/Mercedes, and their large homes, etc who are so caught up in what they've "earned" throughout their life that they aren't stopping to enjoy things as much. They're travelling a lot and complaining that they don't have enough time to enjoy their homes, visit their families, etc. If you look, in this day and age, the number of seniors with higher amounts of DI are growing and they are out spending like the old Moss and Kaufman play says "You Can't Take It With You". In my sphere, I see a lot more materialistic seniors and many more of the zooming AARPers than people my age. Many of my age peers are just getting their first houses, are settling into jobs and trying to stabilize their lives and families and really slow down and enjoy life. They are trying to make better balances between work and home. And they are conserving more money for things that are important to their families. I see coworkers that are bringing mac and cheese to work so that they can conserve money to take their family away for a weekend together. I see people "flexing" their hours more so that they can be at more of their kids events. I remember my dad was great in taking off work to come to my plays as a kid, but it meant using vacation. My peers can work late one night so that they can leave early the night of their kids sporting event, something that my dad could never have done.

I am a conservative and I think that many like me are quite open minded and have enough intellectual integrity to be accepting. Your definition of conservatism comes closer to extremism than conservatism. Extremism either conservative or liberal shows many of the problems that you site.

I think you're mistakenly lobbing slings and arrows at conservatists when you really mean extremists. Extremists whether conservative or liberal exhibits many of the traits that you cite. If you were as open-minded as you claim, I think you'd realize that your values have very little to do with liberalism or conservatism or your generation vs mine.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | August 31, 2006 4:49 PM

Perhaps something in a DD, DH, DS or AGP?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2006 4:51 PM

i think that whether or not a father is involved with their child(ren) depends on the father. while the age and date of birth may reinforce whatever tendencies the man already has. my father (1925) wouldn't change a diaper if a gun was pointed at his head. my husband has changed just as many of my son's diapers as i have. would my father still be the non-diaper changer if he'd been born in 65 rather than 25? probably. i've read enough posts from people whose father were committed parents to think that age or date of birth had very little to do with whether or not they were committed parents. that being said i think that there are greater expectations for the man to be more involved.

Posted by: quark | August 31, 2006 5:02 PM

DadWannaBe - You are, of course, correct, I should (could?) have said conservative extremist, but what I see around me these days are the extrmiss identifying themsleves as "progressives" and "conservatives". A "liberal", or perhaps a "moderate", would be my description of those of us in the middle that remain intellectually athletic enough to adapt and enjoy the change that comes from parenting and being a part of a "couple".

I also certainly do see your point about the greedy oldsters of my and my parents generation who prize their new motor home, European vacation, cruise, or some other "thing" above family and people. Imagine the emptiness and lack of purpose with which they will meet their end. I, on the other hand, and others like me, are rich beyond imagination and only the blind can fail to see it. I have more riches than the wealthiest king or corporate CEO. I have a life with the woman of my dreams and the love and care of three children who make me so proud I sometimes wake up in the night from dreams of laughter (really! I wonder, though. Does that make me crazy?)

Posted by: MikeB | August 31, 2006 5:06 PM

DadWannaBe, I think MikeB was referencing extremists of both types, not just conservatives:

"honestly don't think you can be a conservative or a leftist and have the sort of intellectual integrity"

I assume the reference to leftists is to extremist liberals.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2006 5:09 PM

oops, sorry, his response hadn't shown up yet when I wrote.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2006 5:11 PM

and made pittypat queen of the blog.

Posted by: who died | August 31, 2006 5:23 PM

I do agree that it helps if the anonymous posters pick a name. It helps differentiate between the multiple anonymous posters on the thread. If you are joining in the discussion, it helps to pick a name for each post even if you change it each time. "who died" is easier to respond to than by time stamp. And occasionally, two anonymous posters will post at the same time and it can get confusing.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | August 31, 2006 5:34 PM

I did! I did! Seriously, she was only trying to make a suggestion, not one I agree with, but on an issue that many in the past have raised to.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2006 5:36 PM

(really! I wonder, though. Does that make me crazy?)

MikeB: Hum, not crazy - but I'm a little suspicious. Right now it's a toss up between *manic* or *denial.* Keep talking and I'll let you know.

Posted by: Tracy | August 31, 2006 5:44 PM

"I honestly don't think you can be a conservative or a leftist and have the sort of intellectual integrity it takes to raise and accept and forgive mistakes (mine and their's) and unconditionally love as a family."

What does one's political leaning have to do with intellectual integrity or one's ability to love, be open-minded, and forgive? I consider myself fairly liberal, others may consider me a raving leftist lunatic--support gay marriage, don't eat meat for a variety of wacky, "out there" reasons, go out of my way to preserve the environment, want to see policies that help the poor, oppose our current war and war in general...

But I also consider myself deeply devoted to family, friendship, relationships to living love in everything I do. And as much as I might disagree with so-called conservatives on many issues, I don't think that a strong conservative is necessarily any different from me on that front. My beliefs, and the beliefs of most people, in my opinion, are very strong, but that does not make me unwilling to hear the other side or unable to change and adapt.

I believe the more important issue is that open-mindedness and willingness to forgive and adapt, regardless of our political beliefs. Perhaps those on the far extremes seem more close-minded in many ways, but does that really mean that they love their families less? Maybe so, but personally I'm not going to make that assumption.

Posted by: Apples and oranges | August 31, 2006 5:45 PM

"Who cares and what possible difference can it make whether "today's dads are really different" ?
Another yuppy puppy topic!"

Are you kidding? It makes a HUGE difference! If my husband did the amount of work around the house that my father did, I would have to kiss my career (or my sanity) goodbye!

Posted by: niner | August 31, 2006 6:19 PM

"Perhaps those on the far extremes seem more close-minded in many ways, but does that really mean that they love their families less?"

I liked your post, Apples and Oranges, and I have a lot of the same "extreme" views you do. But I do think there's something to MikeB's idea that someone who is on the far extreme may be less willing to accept their family member's differences and mistakes. I think when someone is extreme to the point of being an idealogue, on either side, it is very had for them to accept that a person who disagrees is still a good person. And that can make for a lot of family strife if their child disagrees with them. One of my good friend's in-laws have basically become estranged from her husband and their grandchildren because they disapproved so strongly on religious ground with some of his past choices. I don't know that they love him less, but they have been less willing to be forgiving and continue to have a solid relationship with him. I would think that type of thing would happen more often the more rigid you are in your views.

Posted by: Megan | August 31, 2006 6:27 PM

Good point, Megan. A good friend of mine from college was very conservative when I met him. He was in ROTC, homophobic, misogynist (not saying these are inherent in anyone in ROTC, these were just his characteristics). A year after his father (who was former military, conservative, homophobic, misogynist) passed away, he came out and stopped making stupid cracks about women. He got out of ROTC due to a knee injury, and hasn't spoken of joining the military since. Families and family members can indeed be negatively affected by extremist views of parents. My friend had to pretend he was someone else or risk being hated by his own father.

Posted by: niner | August 31, 2006 6:39 PM

"Random question: after Generation Z, what do we start calling people?"


Posted by: Fract'l | August 31, 2006 7:15 PM

"Random question: after Generation Z, what do we start calling people?"


Posted by: Fract'l | August 31, 2006 07:15 PM


What, age anonymous? :-)

Posted by: DadWannaBe | September 1, 2006 12:58 AM

an interesting discussion and some funny comments. not too many trolls. what a day!

Posted by: experienced mom | September 1, 2006 8:36 AM

I'm a '58 dad and my goal as always been to be as good a dad as my '35 dad model. I doubt I can top him but I try.

Posted by: mart | September 1, 2006 9:38 AM

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