I ask, because as I sat down to write a serious Father's Day blog for today, I found myself having trouble getting past the mental image of the dad blissfully lounging on the couch watching TV in the evening, while the mom struggles to get the kids in their PJ's, finishes up the chores, packs the backpacks for tomorrow and sends off a load of emails regarding the family's social activities.
If you've ever wished your dad was Ward Cleaver, or longed for a husband as helpful and humorous as Cliff Huxtable....apparently you are not alone. A recent study found that in the eyes of today's kids, real dads are falling short of their TV counterparts - including even Homer Simpson.
According to a USA Today story this week, a study of college students found that "fathers in the USA are a lot less supportive and accepting than TV sitcom dads," and that "many young people blame constant work demands - seldom portrayed on TV - for draining their fathers' energy and time from parenting."
Researchers at Marymount Manhattan College in New York showed eight sitcoms to 108 college kids and asked them to rate the TV dads compared to their real dads in areas like support, guidance, acceptance and general behavior toward other family members. On every measure, the TV dads scored higher than the kids' real dads.
But a TV sitcom isn't real life - which is something the kids involved in the study repeatedly pointed out. And let's be honest -- although college kids may be considered on the verge of adulthood, many of them are still rebellious teenagers unable to fully grasp the pressures today's parents face.
Although I find little value or deep meaning in this study, I suspect there's a grain of truth in it. Admittedly, dads have come a long way in the fathering department in the past 40 years. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of stay at home dads continues to grow yearly, with an estimated 159,000 men choosing to give up (paying) work and stay at home with the kids. And because the number of working couples has increased exponentially in the past four decades - men have had to increase their share of the parenting out of necessity.
And while we know how important a mother's love and nurturing plays in the
development of a child...respected Wall Street Journal Work and Family
columnist Sue Shellenbarger reports that "fathers can have a distinct impact on children beyond that of mothers,
and in many cases without regard to the fact that they often spend less
time with their kids" according to an increasing body of evidence.
Yet our stereotypical perceptions of dads dictate - for instance - how they spend their Father's Day. While on Mother's Day, most moms are awarded "alone time" as far away from their kids as possible (manicures, pedicures and book store browsing), on Father's Day, dad get just the opposite: picnics, park trips and pool duty with the whole family.
Face it. Dads are still spending less time with their kids than moms are. What better way to "honor" him on Sunday than to let him play "mom." Perhaps I should save a chore or two for him to do, too.........
Do you think dads these days are getting a bad rap? What are you doing for your dad or husband this Father's Day? Click below on "Comments" and tell us what you're thinking.
I'll be your Tarzan, you'll be my Jane
I'll keep you warm and you'll keep me sane
And well sit in the trees and eat bananas all day
Just like an ape man