Growing up, it was a common sight in my household to see my father in the kitchen, either cooking awesome meals (which he still does) or even washing the dishes (which he also still does). This was a stark difference from the men of his generation: men who probably only entered the kitchen when it was time to raid the fridge or, depending on the design of the house, to get from Point A to Point B.
It’s fair to say that my papí was “ahead of his time” in this aspect, but when I compare him to this new generation of men (men who not only cook, but also clean, wash clothes and assist in the child care), he’s not exactly the definition of a “modern man.” To be clear, this isn’t a knock against him, but more so an indication of the changing role of fathers.
As we approach Father’s Day, it shouldn’t be a shock that fathers have taken a more active role as, um, fathers. In fact, there are many reasons why this has happened. The most obvious is the changing role of women in the workplace. With more and more women working, the stay-at-home wife/mom is becoming (a lot) less common. Women can’t be expected to work eight plus hour days and then come home to be the only ones handling domestic duties (though many still do, unfortunately).
In addition to working more, more women are also becoming the family’s “bread winner.” Fair or not, this gives women more power when it comes to making decisions that affect the entire family.
Lastly, we’re living in a society that is becoming more egalitarian, in many different respects. Even if some would argue that change has been slow, you cannot deny that change has occurred and that societal change will continue. I’m not saying that sexism has been completely eradicated (we are far from that), but it was only 40 years ago that Title IX was passed, giving women rights that many of us take for granted today.
Of course, we can’t pretend that all fathers equally share the cooking, cleaning, and washing duties with their wives. In fact, some fathers aren’t even around, a big problem in the Latino community. But, if you were to compare fathers from 50 years ago, to fathers from 25 years ago, to fathers today, on average, fathers are much more involved today.
And that’s a very good thing.
Even if my dad didn’t wash our clothes or clean our rooms, he sure cooked a hell of a lot of our meals. And seeing that, as a kid, plays a huge role in what I expect from myself when raising my kids, and what my sister expects from her future husband. After all, men aren’t the only ones who benefit (and have benefited) from the changing role of fathers. We all do.