Broadview editor and publisher Jocelyn Bell. (Photo: Regina Garcia)

Topics: Ethical Living | Editor's Letter

Canadian dads want to spend more time with their families

In households with two opposite-gender parents, moms still carry the "mental load," but things are changing

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On a recent Sunday afternoon just before the crack of spring, I came home to find my husband and seven-year-old son busy cleaning their fishing tackle boxes with a toothbrush, sorting lures into the various compartments according to type, size and perceived effectiveness, and discussing the distinctions between bass and trout lures.

The moment filled me with secret joy. Besides being a scene so stereotypical that it could have been ripped from a Father’s Day card, my real happiness stemmed from the fact that the activity had nothing to do with me. No preplanning. No hints dropped. No arranging or scheduling. No being asked to find something in the attic because no one else knows where it’s kept.

In households with two opposite-gender parents, moms still carry what’s being called “the mental load” — that endless task list of all the minutiae that make a family and a home oper­ate smoothly. According to the 2017 Modern Family Index, working moms in the United States are twice as likely as working dads to make sure all family responsibilities are handled, and three times more likely to keep track of their children’s schedules. That means mothers are what the survey calls the “unofficial keepers of where the entire family needs to be and when, and perpetual guardians against anything falling through the cracks.”

But the Index also tells us dads are yearning for change. Working fathers were 32 percent more likely than working mothers to say they’d take a pay cut in order to spend more time with their kids. Nearly half of dads said they were burning out due to lack of family time. Clearly, both moms and dads have a long way to go to achieve that elusive work-life balance, as well as equality between partners.

In this issue, you’ll encounter several dads. Our cover story is by Mark Mann, a new father who’s grappling with what it means to have a child in the era of climate change. In “Father Figures”, we highlight the changing roles of dads across the country. And our culture essay is on Finding Father, a collection of essays by Mennonite daughters about their dads.

Fatherhood is evolving rapidly, and being a dad in the 21st century might be more mentally, emotionally and even ethically challenging than ever. I can’t speak for dads. But as a mom, I can tell you that parenting my son has been the greatest joy of my life. And watching my husband as a father is a very close second.

This editorial first appeared in the June 2019 issue of Broadview with the title “Changing roles.” For more of Broadview‘s award-winning content, subscribe to the magazine today.

Jocelyn Bell is the editor-publisher of Broadview.

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  • says:

    Your article reminded me of Proverbs 31. Seems the writer “got it” then, and nothing has changed.

    Who can find a virtuous wife?
    For her worth is far above rubies.
    The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
    So he will have no lack of gain.
    She does him good and not evil
    All the days of her life.
    She seeks wool and flax,
    And willingly works with her hands.
    She is like the merchant ships,
    She brings her food from afar.
    She also rises while it is yet night,
    And provides food for her household,
    And a portion for her maidservants.
    She considers a field and buys it;
    From her profits she plants a vineyard.
    She girds herself with strength,
    And strengthens her arms.
    She perceives that her merchandise is good,
    And her lamp does not go out by night.
    She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
    And her hand holds the spindle.
    She extends her hand to the poor,
    Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
    She is not afraid of snow for her household,
    For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
    She makes tapestry for herself;
    Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
    Her husband is known in the gates,
    When he sits among the elders of the land.
    She makes linen garments and sells them,
    And supplies sashes for the merchants.
    Strength and honor are her clothing;
    She shall rejoice in time to come.
    She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
    She watches over the ways of her household,
    And does not eat the bread of idleness.
    Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    Her husband also, and he praises her:
    “Many daughters have done well,
    But you excel them all.”