Nurturing Fathers Exist – Or Is My Husband a Rare Gem?

by Melanie Edwards on June 16, 2010 · 55 comments

in Parenting

Father and Daughter

My husband is a very attentive father – always has been since our daughter was born. He is known for making up silly songs and stories with our 4 year old. He’s also not afraid to don a fancy feather boa and tiara – whether attending a tea party or just playing dress-up. He also takes good care of our daughter and I can always trust that if I’m away, she’s in good hands.

Now, this may sound like nothing out of the ordinary to you. He’s her father. Of course, he should be attentive and caring, right? While I agree, it seems to be something that surprises many friends and family members. My mother has often been told, “Your son-in-law is a really caring father, isn’t he? So-and-so’s husband doesn’t play with their kids like that!” They are surprised to see a father doing, well, what a father is supposed to be doing – playing, talking, and interacting with his kid.

Apparently, not many men do this with their kids? Or perhaps, only the men in my immediate circle of close friends and family? Maybe it’s just a cultural thing?

I know that growing up our father was very much a provider. He made sure our family was taken care of, but I don’t really remember him playing with me. My papi is the definition of an old-fashioned Puerto Rican man and to this day I am not able to talk freely with him – with the exception of finances. Finances was something he made sure to teach me. How to balance a checkbook? He was all over that. Talking boyfriends? Eh…you better go talk to your mom.

On the contrary, I can see my baby girl being fully comfortable in sharing information with her daddy about her first period or boy trouble. At least, I hope their closeness remains through those years and that regardless of how he may feel, she’ll be able to come to him as much as me.

But, in these early preschool years, I’m baffled as to why my husband’s fatherly behavior is perceived to be so rare. Why are so many women surprised to see him go beyond the “goofy-dad” role and see him actually nurturing, caring, and tending to her?

Do you find that men you know are hands-on fathers or play more of a supportive background role?

Photo provided to Melanie by Mariana

Liked this? Share the love!

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie@Invisible Heartstrings June 16, 2010 at 7:31 am

Hi Melanie, I was a lucky one, my Dad used to play with us all the time. We'd wrestle on the floor and play sports outside.

Even so, the conversation was more similar to your dad. Although he played with us, I couldn't really talk to him about anything.

My husband, on the other hand, is like your husband. And I have teen aged daughters. We discuss all the 'sensitive' subjects as a family. My girls willingly discuss boys and girl problems with either of us.

Reply

modernmami June 17, 2010 at 2:25 pm

That's so great that your teenage girls discuss such issues with either your husband or you. I never had that, so can't wait to see it in my daughter.

Reply

PJ Mullen June 16, 2010 at 7:47 am

Fathers of the generation your husband and I belong to have made strides in becoming more active fathers, but there is still a good ways to go. My father traveled relentlessly for business when I was growing up and wasn't terribly involved with my brother and I when he was home from being so tired from traveling. While I have a good relationship with him, I relied on my mom for a lot of things growing up.

The biggest thing we can do right now is continue to set the example of what a real parenting partnership looks like so that by the time our children become parents it will become much more normal for father's to be involved.

I think it is only recently that is has become more social acceptable for fathers to break out of the dated roles and over wrought stereotypes of father's past. Cultural influences aside, I think progress has been made and the formerly silent majority are becoming a stronger voice in the parenting equation.

Reply

modernmami June 17, 2010 at 2:27 pm

It definitely seems like progress is being made, as the majority are weighing in that their husband or even father are attentive, etc. It's great!

Reply

Jennifer June 16, 2010 at 6:29 pm

I think girls with attentive, nurturing daddies grow up to expect the same in their husbands — a GOOD thing. Loved girls become confident women. :) I'm glad to say, I see a LOT more of that sort of attentive fathering around me now than when I was growing up.

Reply

modernmami June 17, 2010 at 2:27 pm

I never even thought about the effect of his parenting. But, I think you're right. She will grow up more confident, and she should definitely expect it from her future spouse.

Reply

Cherrie Bautista June 16, 2010 at 6:37 pm

This is true, not a lot of Dads and husbands are hands-on. My husband is the same thing — very hands on, is not afraid to get “silly” with the kids which is very sweet. Same thing with my Dad. I guess we're lucky!

Reply

modernmami June 17, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Kudos to you and your husband! Love that more are saying husbands are hands-on.

Reply

LaLicenciada June 16, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Hey Melanie,
My father played more of a background role. My dad would play with us occasionally when we were kids- like teach us self defense or video tape my sister and I doing our made up routines, but for the most part, that was it.

As we got older, there was more distance. Cosas de mujeres stayed between the women and my dad did not deal with it. My mom was way more hands-on throughout our childhood and adulthood. She was the nurturer. My dad is very caring, but he was not nurturing.

I don't know if this is just my family, (I recently wrote a post on Father's Day and brought this up so you can check that out in case my response here is very ME-centric), if its a cultural thing, a man thing, or a generational thing.

It seems like a lot of men of that generation were “Men” and “Fathers,” in a more traditional (or macho) way. I think those who have commented about how the tide is turning and Dads of this generation are way more hands-on is very true (traditional gender roles in the family don't seem to be as rigid). For example, my partner “Che”(also Latino) is very hands-on and goofy with his boys, even though his dad played a traditional provider role. However, is my partner as amazing as me when it comes to making sure the boys have eaten after hours of play, are hydrated, or we have band-aids around for the inevitable – no way. I'm a woman and I rock at that in a very traditional nurturing way (even though they are not my kids). Although I learned a lot from my mom, Che and I also learn from each other, that's for sure.

There are many factors that play into why one father is more nurturing than another father. Aside from ones culture or generation, factors like age, maturity and their own upbringing certainly come into play. Also the dynamic of the relationship (partnership / marriage) is definitely a factor.

With all of that said, I still say your husband is a rare gem.

Best,
Li
Twitter.com/LaLicenciada

Reply

modernmami June 17, 2010 at 2:29 pm

It's true that mothers have a different “touch”. Even with him being so great, he does it in a different style than I do. But, even so, he definitely comforts her and sometimes better than I do. So, perhaps…he is a treasured rare gem. ;)

Reply

Shannon, Fran & Dan June 17, 2010 at 5:29 am

My husband is very hands-on with our kids. He wasn't afraid to change diapers and take care of them when they were babies either. He plays and laughs with them and they just love when he's home. My father died when I was only nine, but I remember him being very nurturing himself and I doubt I would have been attracted to or decided to raise a family with someone that wouldn't be the same way. In our case it's not cultural, I've seen both types of fathers among men from my husband's culture. ^FM

Reply

modernmami June 17, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Perhaps that's why I was so attracted to him. Though, I never saw him interact with children really before we got married. It's great that so many dads out there are more hands-on these days.

Reply

MommyBrain June 17, 2010 at 11:14 am

Hi Melanie!!

My dad was very involved in my life growing up. One thing I can never thank him enough for is taking the time every night to go over my homework with me. I know there are many things Daddy taught me that I've used in my adult life… i.e. fixing cars, woodworking, etc… I love it
Now, my hubby is very involved with our girls. He loves taking them to the bookstore, or teaching them how to do computer programming. Just the other weekend while I was away, they were all out in the garage building kid sized workbenches for the girls so they could work with Daddy in the garage. My hubby is doing all he can to give the girls what he never had from his father.. I love that he's so awesome with the girls…

Reply

modernmami June 17, 2010 at 2:32 pm

That last point of yours about him giving them what he didn't have in his father, might be playing a part in how my husband parents as well. I love it.

Reply

Denisse June 18, 2010 at 11:14 am

I love it! My husband is one of those so-called rare gems. I think it has changed over time because maybe they were raised by fathers that were not very involved in their everyday life (good fathers still) and want to change that. My husband is definitely very hands-on and has a very close relationship with my kids :)

Reply

Bond With Karla June 21, 2010 at 10:15 am

My husband is very involved with our son and I love it. I grew up with what I like to think of as a part time dad. He was always there but never did much with us. His work came first. More families need to be about family first!

Reply

BusyDad June 23, 2010 at 12:33 am

He's a rare gem… ok, ok, I have a vested interest in this since I am of the involved variety. While most dads are probably not there yet, I do think that our numbers are a lot bigger than those of our fathers' generation. At least the trend is going in the right direction!

Reply

modernmami July 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Exactly! The trend is going in the opposite direction. And, rare gems are good anyway. ;)

Reply

Erin Pyle June 23, 2010 at 7:23 am

My husband is SO close with our son. I never imagined he would be so attentive! He jumps up to take care of him before I can even respond, and has since birth! I hear all the time how amazing of a father he is. We are so blessed. I had a terrible father that didn't and doesn't care. So to see attentive fathers like our husbands really makes me proud and thankful!

Reply

Eren Mckay June 23, 2010 at 7:51 am

Hi Melanie,
Unfortunately many men are taught that they should just be the “providers” and all that nurturing stuff should be the mom who does it. This is a wrong notion that is very strong in society. I guess they think it takes away from their “machoness” (is that a word?) Anyways it's sad and also overwhelms the mother since she now feels she need to fill the emotional need of that child alone. Thanks for bringing up this topic.
Blessings,
Eren

Reply

modernmami July 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Exactly! The trend is going in the opposite direction. And, rare gems are good anyway. ;)

Reply

modernmami July 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Exactly! The trend is going in the opposite direction. And, rare gems are good anyway. ;)

Reply

modernmami July 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Exactly! The trend is going in the opposite direction. And, rare gems are good anyway. ;)

Reply

modernmami July 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Exactly! The trend is going in the opposite direction. And, rare gems are good anyway. ;)

Reply

modernmami July 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Exactly! The trend is going in the opposite direction. And, rare gems are good anyway. ;)

Reply

modernmami July 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Exactly! The trend is going in the opposite direction. And, rare gems are good anyway. ;)

Reply

modernmami July 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Exactly! The trend is going in the opposite direction. And, rare gems are good anyway. ;)

Reply

modernmami July 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Exactly! The trend is going in the opposite direction. And, rare gems are good anyway. ;)

Reply

modernmami July 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Exactly! The trend is going in the opposite direction. And, rare gems are good anyway. ;)

Reply

modernmami July 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Exactly! The trend is going in the opposite direction. And, rare gems are good anyway. ;)

Reply

modernmami July 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Exactly! The trend is going in the opposite direction. And, rare gems are good anyway. ;)

Reply

modernmami July 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Exactly! The trend is going in the opposite direction. And, rare gems are good anyway. ;)

Reply

modernmami July 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Exactly! The trend is going in the opposite direction. And, rare gems are good anyway. ;)

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: