I think this is the year that fathers get their due respect. Parents who are present are starting to get noticed. Most mothers, whether they have a 9-5 job or “stay at home”, get all the blame and all the credit for parenting. She is seen as present (rightly so, most of the time) and taking an active role in the child’s upbringing. However, dads are generally ignored. Fathers are often called out for vanishing after conception, or not “being there” enough for their offspring during their childhood.
However, there are MANY dads who are active and present co-parents, who are just as nurturing as their co-parenting mothers and whether they “stay home” or have taken on a conventional career, they take their role as father seriously; they understand their vital role in the child’s development.
Society has this impression that, more often than not, a father is not attuned with the needs of his children, and is not giving what is needed for the child to develop securely and feel a deep connection with the male figurehead in the home.
This is not true for many families.
A few days ago, we were spending time with friends who are also parents. Both of them take an active role in their child’s upbringing. It is so beautiful to see nurturing fathers who love and embrace a role that society would otherwise see as “motherly”. This isn’t rare, either. What my husband gives to our children and what my friend’s husband gives to their child is not unique, but it needs to be more openly recognized.
Mother Elephant Fathering:
When we were on safari with another group of friends, all of our kids decided to name each member of our group as an animal in the bush. We couldn’t stop laughing, because each child had nailed the person’s essence in animal form. When they got to Brian, a precocious little one stepped up right away to say, “I know! He’s a mother elephant! They are big and strong, without any real predators that try to take them down, but also very protective and nurturing to their young.” In those few words, this little girl of nine years old summed up not only Brian, but this new idea of fatherhood catching on. There can be a balance of masculine and feminine/maternal without being effeminate.
We always seem to speak of gender roles as negative, but I think we need to start focusing on the positive. Restricting people to one idea of gender roles is what causes the real problem. However, we can embrace finding the right male-female balance that works for our relationship.
I like the idea of a mother elephant – a powerful, loving partner. I want my children to have a powerful and loving man to raise them. There is something really beautiful about embracing gender roles in a healthy way.
Cheers to all the badass mother elephant fathers out there!