The changing role of Fathers

by Kathy Radina | July 2, 2008

kathy radinaEleven-year-old Alisa fights back her tears, as she says of the father she only sees on week-ends, "I want to spend time with him, but he's always too busy. He tells me ‘later’. I don't think he even wants to see me." Maybe he doesn’t. But if he is like most fathers, he just hasn’t figured out how to find the time.

Throughout history, fathers have seen their primary role in the family as that of provider, and across the centuries, they have done just that.

But today, dads spend so much time “providing”, that some of today’s children are lucky to be able to have dinner with their fathers. They are lucky to see him before they go to bed.

This wasn't always the case. Once upon a time, when we lived in an agricultural society, fathers worked on the land, and since they were home virtually all of the time they could be intimately involved in the lives of their families. Dad was around to do things like scrutinize who was dating his daughter, and influence the choices and decisions his children made. Dad knew whom the daughter was pining for, he knew if the son was sneaking into the home brew, and he could tell right away if the rifle was missing from the top of the mantle.

When America became more industrialized, fathers were called off the land to go to work in the cities. They still played the role of provider, but by leaving the home to go to work, they lost much of their ability to influence their children.

Today we are in a technological age, and men once again have the ability to work from home and make themselves available to their families, giving them the opportunity to know their children.

Even without technology, some men are choosing more time at home. For example Marcus, a copywriter, and Betty, a nurse, negotiate their work schedules so one of them is home with their three preschool children at all times. It is not uncommon for Marcus to help put the children to bed, and then return to the office to work in the evening. He is a lucky man to be able to participate in his children's lives. They are all lucky.

The point of this article is to stand up and cheer for the hard working fathers who have made the decision to have an influence on their children's lives, and there seem to be more every day.

It is my delight to report that most of the men I see want to do the best they can for their families. Alisa's dad works hard to make a living, and I bet if he knew that Alisa needed a little of his time as well, he would give it to her. William Shakespeare said, "It is a wise father who knows his own child," and Dad can’t know if he isn’t around.

Kathy Radina, M.Ed. is a counselor in Carefree. She can be reached at 480-488-6096 or visit