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.
HOMETOWN / WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW? Rochester, NY
NUMBER OF CHILDREN Three: Brandon 12, Nate 10, & Ella almost 8
WORK I work full-time as an engineer and I have a part-time job for fun, plus I volunteer with local youth hockey and soccer associations.
RELATIONSHIP STATUS Divorced and recently re-married
HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?
I am very thankful that my job allows for flexible hours. This has always been a priority since I became a father and my kids started school, and it has become even more important since my separation and eventual divorce from the mother of my three children. I am allowed to leave early on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that I can pick my two younger kids up from school and maximize my time with them. To offset this, I get in earlier than most of my co-workers three or four days a week. Also, my work has allowed me to avoid traveling and not taking me away from my kids. Since I’ve been a dad, I have been away from my kids for work for only 3 days when I went to a conference in New York City. While not working 60+ hrs a week and not traveling may have hampered my climb up the corporate ladder, I wouldn’t change a thing.
HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?
Being a parent has changed me in so many ways. I understand what my mom went through a whole lot more, raising me. I swear a lot less than I used to. I’ve learned to be more patient, especially when another parent is dealing with a kid that is melting down at the grocery store. And the biggest thing is that I’m more concerned about other people than I am about myself, now that I am a parent.
IF PARTNERED, HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
My wife didn’t have any children of her own before we started dating. So, she has gone from zero to 100 MPH in a blink of an eye since coming into our lives. And with our recent marriage, things are changing again. She is no longer dad’s girlfriend or fiancée, but now a step-mother to my kids. There are times when stress is added to our relationship because of the kids. But, we make sure we talk things out as we know that communication will be a huge key to our relationship being the best it can be. And we agree on the big things for the kids and that is huge.
WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AS A PARENT AND WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?
My strengths would be the fact that I am reliable and I show up for my kids, and that I try and give them the structure they need and still love them at the same time. I think my biggest weakness is how I deal with frustration when the kids are slow getting out of the house in the morning and when they are overtired and really whiney.
IF PARTNERED, WHAT ARE YOUR PARTNER’S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?
My wife’s strength is just how much she loves the kids. The love she has for the kids really is amazing. Her biggest weakness is probably just learning to deal with the kids when they don’t listen and not being as tidy as she would prefer.
WHO ELSE PROVIDES CHILDCARE FOR YOUR CHILDREN?
Since my ex-wife returned to work a few years ago, her mother has stepped up big time in taking care of the kids when we are at work.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?
Dealing with frustration with the kids and not losing my temper is something that has always been tough for me. I became a lot more mindful of how I dealt with it when my marriage to their mother was falling apart and I’ve gotten a lot better. But, there are times when I don’t handle things as well as I would like and I have to apologize to my kids when those things happen.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?
I think my best parenting moments are just the times that I am there for my kids; when I tell them that I love them, and I give them a hug or a kiss. My dad was never good at showing affection and communicating that he loved me. My dad inherited that from his father; he could never tell either of us that he was proud of us, but he would drive all over the country bragging to family members about us. My dad also lived about three hours away from where my mother and I lived after their divorce (when I was two years old) and that made it tougher on him to show up to my events at school or games. So, as a dad, I want to attend as many things as I can and to always let my kids know that I love them and that I’m proud of them.
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.