Happy Father's Day!
Christine Sweeney, LICSW Program Manager, Parent Connection, BIDMC
JUNE 17, 2021
Sunday is Father's Day, and an opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge all the dads in our lives.
This past year we've experienced some significant shifts in family life. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many people out of the office to work from home, thus allowing many new dads, a chance to learn, along with their partner, how to care for a newborn, and to be more actively involved in the day-to-day adjustment of becoming a parent.
As many more people have been vaccinated and COVID-19 infection rates diminishing, some dads are returning to work, but many will continue to work from home either full-time or in a hybrid model with only some days in the office. This continues the opportunity for dads to be physically present and active in parenting.
In Massachusetts, we experienced the passing of MGLc.175m., or paid family medical leave, that allowed some families the financial means for both parents to be at home during those early and often challenging weeks of the newborn period.
The COVID-19 pandemic and PFML (paid family medical leave) have impacted and created opportunities for fathering that may be very different from dad's experience growing up. I do know from years of experience leading new moms groups, that most moms want/expect a more equal partnership in balancing the demands of parenting and home life. However, opportunity does not automatically convert into actuality.
If you grew up in a family where parental tasks were divided by traditional gender roles, changing this script requires conscious attention and effort. When we become parents, our model for parenting is our own experience, and it is worth considering and discussing with your partner, what each of you envision in this new family of procreation.
What are the things you want to replicate from your own experience, and what are changes you would like to make? As a dad, considering the model of fatherhood you experienced, or perhaps would have liked to experience, is an important exercise in your adjustment to parenthood. Talking with your partner and hearing her/his/their experience, and then clarifying what you as a couple envision for your family. is a worthwhile and ongoing conversation that should begin in pregnancy, and continue throughout your parenting years.
Becoming a father (actually becoming a parent) is a lifelong and constantly changing process. For those Dads just beginning this journey and for those already on this path, wishing you a very Happy Father's Day!