Welcome to Portraits of Fatherhood: We’re telling the story of today’s dads.
There is no better place to witness the changing roles of men and women in the larger culture than through the lens of parenthood. But rather than speculate on what and how contemporary fathers do what they do, we’d like to bring you portraits of the dads themselves. In their own words. Would you like to be interviewed for this feature? See the end of the post for details.
NAME Andrew Smiler
HOMETOWN / WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW? Born in Philadelphia PA, now living in Winston-Salem NC
ON THE WEB Andrew Smiler
NUMBER OF CHILDREN One
DAY JOB Therapist & Author. Evening & Weekend job: Father. As a therapist, I work almost exclusively with boys and men (and their families). I am also the author of “Challenging Casanova: Beyond the stereotype of the promiscuous young male” and co-author, with Christopher Kilmartin, of the best-selling Men’s Studies text “The Masculine Self” (5th ed.)
RELATIONSHIP STATUS Married
HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?
We are fortunate to have jobs that provide some scheduling flexibility and the ability to work from home. At the same time, we both work 9-5ish so our daughter’s schedule is pretty much the same from one weekday to the next. We’ve each always had at least one night “off” from parenting since our daughter was about 3 months old. On weekends, we often take morning and afternoon shifts of being the primary parent, allowing the other person to have some down time and/or do work around the house.
HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?
I never knew I could be so enthralled by another person for so long, especially when they’re doing things that seem so “simple,” like walking or talking. I love my wife, but I’ve never been that amazed, or touched, by her ability to walk across the room or recite the alphabet. I’ve also developed a whole new level of appreciation for “patience.”
HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
We have to do a lot more planning – about everything – and we’ve had to learn to be much better about sharing and following our schedules. All of this has required better communication, in one way or another.
WHO ELSE PROVIDES CHILDCARE FOR YOUR CHILDREN?
She’s been in full time day care since age 3 months. We’ve had several babysitters over the years, and at times that has meant a babysitter (almost) every Sunday afternoon so the adults can have time to be together to have fun, run errands, or work.
DO ANY OF YOUR CHILDREN HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS? AND IF SO, HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOUR PARENTING?
Does an ever present need for macaroni & cheese count?
WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?
I don’t know that I’ve had a really horrible moment, but I often find myself getting impatient – and sometimes angry – when the kid is dawdling on her way to bed or out the door.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?
When she looks at me and, for no apparent reason, says “I love you papa.”
For a more dramatic moment, we return to age 4 months. It was our first experience of projectile vomiting, and I got the kid to the bathroom very, very, very quickly. Only one round hit me or the carpet.
YOU WORK WITH AND STUDY BOYS AND MEN. ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED YOU DIDN’T HAVE A BOY?
Not at all. Our daughter is happy and healthy and loves us both. That’s quite enough.
We’re looking for a few good dads.
IF you’d like to be interviewed for this feature, please write to Lisa Duggan at: [email protected]
Please write “Portraits of Fatherhood” in the subject line.