What fathers want

After dealing with the aftermath of several families’ dysfunction of late, I’ve noticed a certain pattern that shows that the old model is severely out of date. Sometimes when Dad is out doing what he feels is expected of him–providing for his family financially–Mom is just not living up to her side of the bargain.

And that’s not fair.

Take the example of a dad working twelve hour shifts a day driving a truck, picking up and dropping loads, even on the weekends, so he makes a steady income enough to pay all the bills in the household. What a man’s supposed to do, right? Or so the 1950s model would say.

But let’s remember the moms in that model–they were home, baking cookies, making sure the children had nutritious meals, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, running the errands, doing the grocery shopping. Taking good care of the children. The REST of the work.

That was the half they picked up as their part of the bargain. Dad, you work hard outside the home to bring home enough money so we can feed the children and keep them safe and warm; Mom, you put that money to work and devote yourself to carrying that task through.

But for a lot of stay at home mothers today, that’s just not how it works. While the fathers are at work, the moms are Facebooking all day.  How often does all that Farmville gardening feed your own kids, hmm? (At least the cases I’ve seen haven’t gone as wrong as this Korean couple, whose real life baby starved to death while they raised a perfect one online.)

Or maybe the moms are drinking all day to escape the children, while the children get into God knows what. Or maybe they’re watching TV all day while the laundry piles up till no one can walk through the bedrooms, and dirty dishes are a mountain in the sink.

Is that really what a hard-working father wants to find when he comes home?

What about the real damage that might not come out for a decade or more? The child neglected by the mother living a “better” life online or texting or partying with friends all day, so that he learns, even at the age of one or two, that the only way he’s going to get lunch is if he scavenges through the refrigerator for a hot dog, or leftovers, maybe, if she’d even cooked dinner the day before.  When he learns that he should steal or hoard food, because he doesn’t know when he’ll eat again (even if he’s now lived in a home for over ten years when he always has food to eat). When he learns to shift and lie and hide to avoid punishment because he knows soon her attention is diverted back to her games. When he learns that nothing is the same day to day, so the “rules” change constantly and he doesn’t have to do what he was told yesterday because now it’s today. When he finds that only his current impulse governs what he does, because he’s not accountable to anyone.

When a father is working a second shift job in construction, a third shift job at a convenience store, and most days of the week, stopping for another few hours in the morning to make donuts to get just a little more money, is this really what he should have to deal with?

It doesn’t seem fair. But it’s too late to undo it now.

Dads who worry about what’s happening at home probably have a good reason to. Please take the time to talk about your bargain and make sure everyone understands what’s expected of them. Take action. Before it’s too late for your children.

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