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Are Modern Dads Piling Their Plates Too High?

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A feminist commercial from my youth comes to mind whenever I prepare dinner for my family.

“I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan …” went the 1980 spot for Enjoli perfume, paying homage to that era’s empowered woman.

Today’s modern father can sing from the same lyric sheet, although the line about “never letting you forget you’re a man” will likely get edited out.

We cook. We clean. We change diapers (and are darn proud of it). And, yes, we still often work a 9-to-5 job in between.

Some fathers stay home while their wives bring home that bacon, part of the growing stay-at-home-dad movement.

Of course, dads are still expected to do everything their fathers and grandfathers did before them. Change the car’s oil. Fix the leaky faucet. Kill that oversized spider hunkered down in the laundry room.

Is the new, improved father taking on too much?

It’s a question many mothers faced around the time that commercial aired. Women sought greater control over their destinies and, slowly but surely, the culture evolved to make that happen.

Now, it’s modern fathers’ turn to consider the ramifications of their wish list. And, make no doubt, today’s dads brought the matter upon themselves. They volunteered happily, knowing that for every changed diaper the household will run a little smoother, seem a little happier.

And, of course, each small act brings them closer to their children.

That’s why prioritizing becomes a critical part of a father’s schedule. Some household chores can simply slide for now, leaving you better prepared for the essential tasks like chauffeuring your children to their afterschool sports.

Speaking of priorities, while the role of modern fathers continues to evolve, it doesn’t mean men don’t need a night out or two out with the fellas.

Technology also can be a modern dad’s friend, an option your father and grandfather didn’t have at their fingers. One educational video game can buy you enough time to get the house in order.

Multitasking is the buzzword of choice, but doing too many things at once often means tackling all of them in haphazard fashion. You’re better off spending some dedicated time with your kids and then plopping them in front of the TV for the half hour you’ll need to crush your to-do list.

The modern dads I know are delighted with their choice. I still struggle at times with my expanded duties. Plus, I feel some shame when I realize my wife is handier around the home than me. It’s not even close.

Yes, fathers are expected to do more than ever, but at the same time some burdens (like handyman chores) may be lifted. The end result is clear, though. Our children will be better off having fathers who are more active, and present, in their lives.

Photo credit: Andrew Xu

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