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The evolution of dads

Fathers Day isn't really about me. It's about my kids and their mom who are the only reason I get to get up every day and do this job. Other than spending time with my family, I always feel a little guilty if it involves any amount of special praise, gifts, or pampering. I'm a hard-working dad who spends nearly every hour of every day with my kids, but this being daily life isn't necessarily interesting. At least not from inside the fishbowl. On one level, it's entirely boring--a father raising his kids. Modern dads getting tons of attention isn't a bad thing. We're long overdue for equal treatment in the eyes of the culture when it comes to childcare, emotional support, and being involved in domestic activities like school drop off or grocery shopping. We change diapers. We take the kids to the playground.

But, on the other hand, there is still a stigma. It's what makes the gig so gosh-darned fascinating to society, the media, and random people we meet who have to comment in that "good for you!" type of way. We get a cookie for being so amazing. In fact, this is one of the pet peeves of the modern father...we aren't babysitting. It's called "parenting." The perception that we're not good at what we do is not only sexist and demeaning, but annoying as well.

Somewhere out there--if it ever gets published--Time Magazine has a cover story featuring millennial dads with a few quotes from yours truly about shared responsibility, expectations, and dad networking. One of the key highlights, for me, about this new generation of modern dad is the way we're connected to each other. Many of us are in areas of the country still hopelessly backwards when it comes to those traditional gender roles. A dad at the park is cause for alarm or a snarky comment and I frequently run across social media from men who feel isolated and frowned upon in their community. That's changing. And part of what's making it change is the real and online community of fathers who share, support, and socialize with each other. This week's tag line, if you notice many dad profiles changed, is "the brotherhood of fatherhood."

Again, Fathers Day really isn't about me. It is, however, about these men. Yes, I'm one of them. But this post is specifically to my friends and to thank them for allowing me to be a part of the dad experience...and thank you for being a part of mine. This movement of involved dads--as I told the journalist--wouldn't have been possible a few years ago. In fact, my ironic Twitter profile photo from 1950's television is an ode to the outdated, traditional father who most of us are familiar with as the stereotypical breadwinner and aloof head-of-household figure. Dispensing advice without getting his hands dirty unless it was fixing a car or the kitchen sink. We've all grown up with this sad face of masculinity.

So what do we do about it? In isolation, I'd have my own view probably. There are no rules since we're quite literally making them up as we go. It really is that network of playdates, national conferences, Dads Night Out conversations over beers, and friendly/heartfelt words of encouragement during the day that allow the modern father to be what we are. Which is a force!

This Fathers Day, don't forget to thank your friendly neighborhood dad for his "amazing." Go one extra though and tell his buddies thank you, too. Thank you for the carpool to the game. Thank you for the advice on that delicious recipe he shared online. Thank you for the tip about how to fix that home item that was broken. I thank all my dad friends--in person and online--for these and more. You span the globe. Chatting with fathers from continents not my own is awe-inspiring.

Cheers, dads! Have one for me tomorrow. Then get up off your ass because your kids probably need something and if you're lucky you may finish before the game comes on.